48th year of Summer Sonatina International Piano Camp


Photo Jul 18, 11 14 00 AM (1)

Busy painting piano keys under the big tent

Full disclosure here. Summer Sonatina International Piano Camp is turning 48 this summer. This will be our Opus 48. Piano Camp started by my parents Rein and Rosamond van der Linde when I was 10 so now you know my age.

Piano camp originated in North Bennington, VT, a mere 5 miles from where we’re located now in Old Bennington. We moved our family to this big house on the hill because back in 1976, we simply had no more room to tuck a piano in a mudroom, garage or basement area. Here in the large gray mansion, we’ve upgraded to closets, the laundry room, bedrooms and larger rooms perfect to host a grand piano. Somehow we’ve managed to cluster 30 pianos into a house that has 34 numbered rooms.


Laundry room piano. Plenty of space!


The grand pianos in the living room. This room is much larger than the laundry room!


An upright in a bedroom (note the unmade bed!)


Grands even fit in some of the bedrooms!

The joy of piano camp is the cacophony of sounds that emanate from every nook and cranny of this non-soundproofed house full of 40+ pianists from ages 7 – 16. The scope of repertoire that can be heard from first to third floor can range from learning middle C, to a boogie woogie or a Chopin Etude played at a frenzied tempo.

Photo Jul 14, 12 54 13 PM

Piano Monsters in Room 3!

The beauty of this piano camp is that there are no auditions. You get to come as is. Imagine that?! Whatever skill level you’re at will be matched with our outstanding faculty (check out the bios on our website) and junior faculty (those still in college). Only play by ear? Not sure you can practice three hours a day? No problem! We’ve got you covered. Counselors are paired with you, to be your practice buddy, if you struggle with the 3 one-hour practice sessions per day.

Photo Jul 23, 5 53 22 PM

A bunch of counselors, who double as piano buddies!

Not only will you enjoy meeting friends exactly your age but you can be assured that you’ll have some of these friends for life. How do I know this? I see spontaneous Summer Sonatina Reunions on social media with those that attended piano camp from as early as the 80’s or 90’s! Yay to piano pals!

Photo Jun 22, 7 04 50 PM

Playing air piano at the Bennington Monument.

Did I mention fun? That’s a given. In addition to piano lessons, master classes, concerts, music classes, duets, ensemble playing, composition and chorus there are recreational activities like swimming, arts and crafts, bowling, flash mobs, walking downtown, putting on original music and acting productions, croquet, and more. The highlight of the week is hopping on a bus to Tanglewood Music Center to hear the Boston Symphony Orchestra or going to Saratoga Performing Arts Center to see the New York City Ballet.

Photo Jul 08, 7 39 16 PM

Summer Sonatina at Tanglewood.


Actual staff members!

Behind the scenes, we’re always preparing for something. Here are a few pictures of getting ready for our Annual Flash Mob:

Photo Jul 13, 1 01 42 PM (1)

Moving the piano out onto the cart

Photo Jul 15, 12 12 46 PM

Cart made and designed by Dale Cobb. I had to make sure it was safe!

Photo Jul 17, 10 07 30 AM

The piano under wraps, ready to be brought downtown

Photo Jul 19, 3 39 26 PM

Measuring the size of the keys on Catamount Lane in preparation for downtown

Photo Jul 18, 1 21 44 PM

Adding our own words to the tune of “Piano Man”


Laying the keys down on the crosswalks at the Four Corners in Downtown Benningto


Each week Siena Facciolo followed people around to capture the highlights of the week. The following video is edited by Michael Cutler:


And, if that isn’t enough for you, here’s week 3. Video again by SF and editing done by MC


This is a Summer Sonatina tradition. Tiffany, the moose, at the Bennington Center for the Arts, helps us all get ready to perform:


Each week we had a special focus. During Week 1, everyone learned the music to Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky and some of the students acted out parts as well. Choreographed by Peter LeRay and parts of it performed on the piano by Tim Jones, the grand finale was such a wonderful surprise!


One week a group of students created words to go to the Hamilton song “The Room Where it Happens” but we know it’s Summer Sonatina International Piano Camp where things really happens!


Group hugs happen spontaneously on the last day of each week of camp.

Photo Jul 17, 11 39 54 AM

We all love group hugs


Got you curious now? There’s more information on the Sonatina website at www.sonatina.com or an online application form can be found at: http://www.sonatina.com/typeform_sonatina.html

Photo Jun 22, 7 08 53 PM (1)

These smiles say it all


I hope these little snapshots and videos of Summer Sonatina uplift you, as it does for the 150+ students who come to camp every summer. We’re not counting, but, there have been over 40,000 fingers who have tickled the ivories in our 48-year history.

We hope that you add 10 more!


The experience is GRAND and UPRIGHT!





About Polly van der Linde

Pianist, teacher, director of International Piano Camps in VT, for adults and children of all levels of ability
This entry was posted in Flash mob scene, History of Sonatina, Piano, Piano practice, Sonatina, Summer Sonatina, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 48th year of Summer Sonatina International Piano Camp

  1. Lin E says:

    Beautifully done, Polly! a joy to read and look at the photos!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s