New Viola Bootcamp Helps Students to Achieve Goals

Posted on February 27, 2020 by Zi Wang

This summer, the newly created Viola Bootcamp, July 13-17, is bringing a fun and intensive week of learning to intermediate and advanced violists, ages 10-18, who are looking to celebrate the unique qualities of their instruments while building a healthy technical foundation and improve their overall skills.



Academy Teaching Artist for Viola, Dr. Patrick LeStrange, will lead the camp along with a line of high-profile musicians including Helen Fall, member of the Alexandria and Fairfax symphonies; Philippe Chao, assistant principal violist with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra; and Caitlin Renner, Academy teaching artist, avid collaborator, and music educator at area preschools.

“I am thrilled to have Helen Fall joining the camp as an instructor,” said Dr. LeStrange. “Helen is a wonderful viola technician, and I know all participants will leave the camp having made tremendous progress. Philippe Chao, professor of viola at George Mason University, will be joining us for masterclass and provide a tremendous amount of advice on technical improvement.”



During the bootcamp, students will immerse in intensive classes designed to improve their technical skills and their awareness of their own playing.  Each day, students will have private lessons and supervised daily practice with instructors to work on their personal goals, whether to conquer a difficult piece or orchestra except, correct a technical issue, or battle their nerves in performance.

Group classes and workshops will focus on fundamentals, scales, and posture, and Professor Chao will provide practical tips and tools to improve students’ performance in the masterclass.



Another unique component of the program is the daily viola ensemble session, which students can explore a versatile genre of viola music, from classical to fiddle, with Ms. Renner. Students will enjoy playing a viola-only ensemble, which will give them an opportunity to apply their newly honed technique in a musical setting.

Dr. LeStrange hopes the camp can provide a space for fellow violists to socialize and share their joy and passion for both music and life. Students will embrace personal growth, along with exploring music and building friendships.



“I hope that all students leave Viola Bootcamp not only with a better sense of how to play their instrument,” said Dr. LeStrange. “But with an appreciation of the viola and the unique family we are all in together!”

The bootcamp will divide students into groups based on their ages and playing levels. An audition is required for entering the program to ensure proper placement. Students can submit their audition videos via YouTube by June 29. To register the camp or learn more about the audition information, please visit: