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School of Music

Summer Conservatory violin students

Carolina Summer Music Conservatory

Advanced high school students of woodwind, brass, percussion, jazz, voice, piano and strings can participate in this intensive one-week training period for both day and boarding students.

Participants study repertoire with USC music faculty in small chamber ensembles and together in a chamber orchestra culminating in a performance on the last day.

Students who have completed 9th through 12th grade focus on individual performance and chamber music, developing musicianship skills – the listening, rhythmic and ensemble skills that go into making chamber music.

In addition to master classes, chamber music coaching and private lessons, students are offered a variety of activities, including courses in music history, music theory, how to prepare for an audition, and jazz improvisation.

Conservatory participants rehearse and perform solo works with professional accompanists and hear concerts and recitals given by conservatory faculty members.

A limited number of pianists are accepted into the program and must apply through the Southeastern Piano Festival website. Piano students have the opportunity to work in chamber ensembles in addition to daily lessons, master classes and classes with the other conservatory students.

2017 Dates

June 11–17, 2017
Application deadline May 1, 2017.


Application fee: $50 (nonrefundable)
Tuition: $400
Room and board: $275
Total fees: $725

Application fee: $50 (nonrefundable)
Tuition: $400
Total Fees: $450

Optional meal plan for commuting students: $85 (5 lunches and dinners; for commuting students only)
Commuting students must live off campus with an adult guardian.

A limited number of scholarships are available. All students wishing to be considered for scholarship assistance must submit a taped recording and indicate on the application that they wish to be considered.

To apply

  • Fill out the downloadable application. Application deadline is May 1, 2017.
  • Include a $50 nonrefundable application fee (make checks payable to: University of South Carolina).
  • Include an electronic file or CD recording of 5-10 minutes of you performing on your major instrument (or proof of inclusion in your Allstate ensemble). A recording is required if you wish to be considered for a scholarship.
  • Mail to: Clifford Leaman, Carolina Summer Music Conservatory, USC School of Music, 813 Assembly St., Columbia, SC 29208

Summer Music Conservatory FAQ
For more information: email Dr. Clifford Leaman or call 803-576-5893.

Summer Music Conservatory Faculty




Rebecca Nagel

Rebecca Schalk Nagel, oboe

Assistant dean and professor of oboe at the USC School of Music, Rebecca Schalk Nagel has performed across the U.S. and in Europe. As director of Spark: Carolina's Music Leadership Laboratory, she explores new ways for students to engage with their communities.

Joseph Eller

Joseph Eller, clarinet

Joseph Eller is associate professor of clarinet at USC. He has performed solo and chamber music recitals throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia. He was appointed principal clarinetist of the South Carolina Philharmonic in 2012 and has played extra with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Opera Orchestra, Charleston Symphony Orchestra and numerous other orchestras throughout the southeastern U.S.

Clifford Leaman

Clifford Leaman, saxophone

Clifford Leaman is associate dean and professor of saxophone at USC. He is in great demand as a soloist and clinician and has performed and taught throughout the U.S., Canada, Italy, Spain, France, Slovenia, Sweden, Thailand and in China where he has been a featured guest artist eight times since 2004.

Reed Hanna

Reed Hanna, bassoon

Reed Hanna, an active performer and composer, performs regularly with regional orchestras in S.C. and Georgia. He performed the premiere of his Concerto for Bassoon and Strings on a program with his other works for bassoon and piano in April 2015. A candidate for the doctorate of musical arts degree in bassoon performance, he also holds a master of music degree from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and a bachelor of science in music education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Lauren Watkins

Lauren Watkins, flute

Flutist Lauren Watkins enjoys an active career as a performer and educator. She has performed as featured soloist with the Ohio State Symphony Orchestra and the Sewanee Festival Orchestra and is currently a flute instructor and Sunrise Band director with the Congaree New Horizon’s Band, flute instructor at the Hammond School, graduate teaching assistant for the flute studio at USC, and has a private studio in Columbia, S.C.



James Ackely

James Ackley, trumpet

 James Ackley is professor of trumpet at USC and has performed with the Charleston Symphony, Moscow State Radio Symphony, Charlotte Symphony, Bogota Philharmonic, the Cincinnati Symphony, and many others. As a soloist and recitalist, he has performed in more than 30 countries and in the most famous concert halls in the world. He is a member of the award winning Bala Brass Quintet. He is is a Yamaha Performing Artist and Clinician.

Ronald Davis

Ronald Davis, tuba and euphonium

Ronald Davis is professor of tuba and euphonium at USC and is principal tubist with the South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra. As an orchestral player he has performed with the Augusta Symphony Orchestra, the Santa Barbara Symphony, the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Sinfonia Orchestra under Roger Wagner, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Charleston and Charlotte Symphonies.

Michelle Smith, horn

Michelle Smith, horn

Michelle Smith is pursuing her doctor of musical arts degree in horn performance and is a graduate assistant for USC Bands. She received a master of music in horn performance from the University of New Mexico and played in the Sandia Brass Quintet, Graduate Woodwind Quintet, University of New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, Brass Choir and Wind Symphony. She has performed with ensembles in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and New Mexico, and has worked as a private teacher and horn instructor for schools throughout the Southeast.

Stephen Wilson trombone

Stephen Wilson, trombone

Steve Wilson has more than 40 years of experience as a professional trombonist. He has performed with Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., George Benson, Natalie Cole, Frank Rosolino, Bill Watrous and Wycliffe Gordon, among others. His performance of Chris Brubeck’s Concerto for Bass Trombone with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra was broadcast on NPR.