Frequently Asked Questions

Academic Curriculum

How do I know if I am ready for ISYM?

You are ready for ISYM if you are currently participating in a school ensemble and/or are enrolled in private music lessons. You should be ready for an exciting and intense week which will challenge your musical abilities and help you reach the next level! For our junior high large ensemble programs, we recommend that a student has at least 1 year of experience playing their instrument.

What is the student-to-teacher ratio?

This is dependent on the ISYM program in question. Pre-college programs have a lower student-to-teacher ratio than the large ensemble programs. Our faculty and staff are carefully selected and are all experienced music educators. Many of our instructors are University of Illinois faculty, which provides a unique experience for students to receive individual attention from world-class teachers/artists. We conduct thorough background checks on all faculty and staff.

What is the daily schedule like?

A typical schedule for an ISYM musician is packed full with music-making! Participants are engaged in rehearsals, sectionals, electives or master classes from 8:15 am- 4:45 pm daily. Each evening features a different activity. Sample daily schedules are available upon request.

What types of electives are offered?

Participants pre-select their top three elective choices during online registration, and find out their assigned elective on the first Sunday of camp. They will attend their elective class Monday-Friday. In summer 2014, we offered: Alexander technique, barrage, composition/theory, conducting, didgeridoo, gamelan, group piano, improvisation, music technology, rock band/songwriting, and ukulele.
Pre-college clarinet, trumpet and senior jazz programs do not include an elective class within their daily schedule. During the registration process, you will see a drop-down box from which you may select your top elective choices. Detailed descriptions of elective courses can be found under the “General Information” tab.

Student Life

What is the student-to-counselor ratio?

The student-to-counselor ratio is approximately 18:1. Our counselors reside in the dorms and are experienced music educators who are typically enrolled in the University of Illinois Graduate Music Education program. While our faculty and staff supervise the daily music activities from 8am-5pm, the counseling staff is responsible for participants from 5pm until 8am the next morning. At least one counselor is always on duty during the day in the counseling office, as well as another for sick call, and our head counselor can be contacted 24-hours a day. During the evening, participants are monitored through frequent head checks with their counselors before, during and after all evening activities. There are typically two counselors on each floor of the dorm. We conduct a thorough background check on all of our faculty and staff.

What do ISYM participants do in the evening?

Evening events include faculty recitals, concerts, big screen movie presentations, activity night (bowling, billiards, arcade, swimming, fitness center, and outdoor activities), camp talent night, and a camp dance. Activity choices change from session to session based on availability and weather.

May I request a specific roommate?

Yes, you may request a specific roommate. Participants share a room with one other person. Roommate requests need to be mutual, and we will do our best to honor all requests. Triple rooms are also available on a very limited basis. Please include the full name of your requested roommate on your application, if possible.

I have food allergies. (i.e. peanuts, gluten)

If you indicate you have food allergies on your application, we will send you a food allergy form from University Dining Services. They have a dedicated staff member who will communicate with you to work on your child’s dietary needs during their stay. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided for participants by University Dining Services while camp is in session, and their staff members are available to answer questions about food during meals. There is always a variety of options including a hot entrée, plain vegetable, potato, salad bar, build-your-own sandwiches, fresh fruit and dessert. There are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options at every meal.

I have a relative who lives in Champaign-Urbana who would like to take me to dinner one evening.  May I leave the ISYM campus?

Yes, you may leave the ISYM campus to have dinner with a family member or friend. Your parent/guardian must sign a “Permit to Leave form” on registration day in the Counseling Office. When someone checks you out during camp, they must first stop by the ISYM counseling office to present their ID and go through our check-out procedure.

Early arrival/Late departure

If you absolutely must arrive early or leave late from ISYM, you need to let us know 3 weeks prior to the start of your session. We need to know your approximate arrival or leave time, and your travel arrangements. Please be aware that there is a $25 fee to spend extra nights in the dorm. Also, please note that food is not provided when camp is in session, nor are counselors on duty. Our head counselor will be on call for any concerns prior to the start of camp.

When can I check in for early arrival?
We ask that you arrive no earlier than 2 pm on the Saturday before a session begins. If you have informed us of your early arrival ahead of time, you can check in at the Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Hall Front Desk when you arrive.  Our head counselor will meet you and make sure you get settled in. There will be a room charge for an extra night’s stay. Last year the charge was around $25.

How can I get from the airport to the U of I campus?

We can arrange to pick you up as long as you fly into Champaign (CMI) and let us know your travel arrangements 3 weeks ahead of time. Otherwise, you need to work out your own transportation. We don’t have the capability to make runs to Chicago, Indianapolis, or Bloomington. However, there are busses that run from these airports to Champaign if you would like to arrange for that yourself. Picking up participants from the airport on the first Sunday of camp is very difficult for our staff to accomplish, since we are occupied with auditions and registration. If you need us to transport you from the airport, we recommend that you arrive a day early.

How does late departure work?

We can help you get to the airport in Champaign if you let us know your travel arrangements 3 weeks ahead of time. There will be a $25 charge if you need to stay overnight and choose to depart the next morning. 

Packing Information

Drums in Rock Band/Song Writing and Jazz

For 2017, drum sets will be provided. Drummers will need to bring their own sticks, cymbals and a drum set rug.

What do I do about medications?

Medication can be stored in a medical cabinet in the counseling office, if you wish, or your child can keep their own medication in their room. Participants who self-medicate should continue to do so during camp.  We also have refrigerated storage for insulin or other medications as needed.  At the request of parents, we can use a tracking chart to make sure participants are taking their medication at the prescribed time.  Arrangements should be made with the head counselor upon arrival at camp.

May I bring a laptop, and is there internet access?

Bringing computers to ISYM is not advised because it's a valuable item, and participants have very little time to use them during their busy schedule.  Valuable items should be locked in dorm room closets.  ISYM is not liable for the theft, loss, damage, or destruction of personal property. Starting in 2015, guest Wi-Fi access will be available to students in their dorm rooms.

May I bring a car to campus?

Although we strongly recommended that you do not bring a car to campus, if you must drive yourself, we do allow you to store your car on campus.  There will be a daily charge for parking and you will have to surrender your keys to the ISYM coordinator. You will not have access to your car, or be allowed to drive it while camp is in session. Please contact us ahead of time if you would like to pursue this option so that we can make arrangements and quote you parking rates.

May I bring a cell phone with me?

Yes, you may bring a cell phone, but we insist that it be silent during rehearsals. We recommend that participants be very careful with valuable belongings such as cell phones or computers. Do not leave them laying around, and be sure to lock your dorm room at all times. Pay phones are also available in the Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Hall.

What items are restricted at ISYM?

Participants should not bring rollerblades, skateboards, or bicycles. Other restricted items that are grounds for immediate dismissal include fireworks, weapons, alcohol, and drugs.