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Itzhak Perlman gives a student some individual attention

Itzhak Perlman camp offers haven for young musicians

Web posted on: Tuesday, July 14, 1998 4:50:02 PM

From Correspondent Jill Brooke

NEW YORK (CNN) -- What does it take to inspire future musical talents? Violinist Itzhak Perlman could have the answer -- a camp that gathers students committed to learning, and sets them in an environment conducive to their development as artists.

The Perlman Music Program in Easthampton, New York, provides just that. Students attending the camp get instruction from some of the best musicians in the world.

The final product

"Usually, we hear them on CDs, and you only hear the final product there," one student says. "But at this camp, we get to work with them and sort of see virtuousity behind the scenes."

The program is costly -- $1,800 for three weeks -- but two-thirds of the students reportedly receive financial help. Fundraisers with musicians from Pincus Zuckerman to Billy Joel help support the scholarships.

The camp offers students a safe haven to discuss music with other young musicians.

"Let's say you're at just like your normal school, not many kids play instruments," another student says. "But when you come to this camp, you're immersed in all this talent and all these kids who have the same interests that you have."


Perlman dream

"I think that many more kids probably have talent that is not nurtured, simply because they are in the wrong atmosphere," Perlman says.

The violinist should know. He is considered one of the greatest musical talents of his era, yet he was forced to battle through growing pains often associated with prodigies. His wife, Toby Perlman, started the camp after learning that her husband felt out of place when he was a young musician.

"I was very much isolated," Perlman says. "I remember when I was a kid I was (considered) a freak because I practiced three hours a day. Here I wouldn't have been considered a freak, I would have just been considered part of the particular social mileu."

The program aims to help students feel comfortable in an environment that helps sharpen their talents

Preventing burnout

Toby Perlman says the school also prevents burnout, a common affliction for young music prodigies.

"It happens for a variety of reasons, often because the child is isolated, doesn't go to normal schools, doesn't have what we consider normal peer experiences," she says.

The Perlman Music Program might not be considered normal by some, but it certainly seems likely to put young musicians on the right path.

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