Founded in 1994 by education visionary Toby Perlman and violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman, the Summer Music School (aka “The Littles Program”) welcomes gifted young students of the violin, viola, and cello into a richly supportive musical community. Approximately 40 musicians from around the world, ages 12-18, come together each summer for a seven-week program on a beautiful waterfront campus on Shelter Island, New York.

The heart of PMP’s teaching philosophy lies in the development of the whole person – not just the musician. A rigorous yet non-competitive approach creates a nurturing environment, where each student is encouraged to take risks and discover their individual voice. PMP’s world-class faculty, led by Itzhak Perlman, leads a curriculum of solo, chamber music, and orchestral repertoire at the highest level. The whole PMP community sings together in chorus, where students develop listening skills and have fun! Performance opportunities every week give students the chance to refine their repertoire for supportive audiences.

Support is the key. PMP gives students what they need – outstanding instruction, a nurturing environment for growth, a welcoming community of students and alumni, and whatever else is needed along the way. Admissions are based solely on talent, not recommendations or financial means – no student is ever turned away due to an inability to pay.

Once admitted, students are welcomed into the PMP family. Littles have a place at camp every summer until graduation at age 18. After that, students may apply for the Chamber Music Workshop, attend Travel Residencies, and enjoy Life-Long Mentorship from PMP. 



7 AM
Rise/ Morning exercise and stretching

8 AM
Breakfast with the PMP community

8:30 AM
Four 50-minute hours of rehearsal in your own personal practice room, with 10-minute breaks in between

12:30 PM
Lunch with the PMP community – stay tuned for important campus announcements!


Curriculum includes:

                         private lessons 
                         studio class
                         chamber music coachings
                         special off-campus outreach performances around the East End

Recreation includes:

                         frisbee (the official sport of PMP)
                         ping pong
                         pool (billiards, not swimming)
                         swimming, kayaking, canoeing on the waterfront
                         trips into town
                         and so much more!!

5:00 PM
Chorus rehearsal led by Patrick Romano

6:00 PM
Dinner with the PMP community



7:00 PM
(during the week) Orchestra rehearsal, led by Itzhak Perlman

7:30 PM
(weekends) WIPs

Evening group activities include sight-reading “Round Robin” sessions, video nights, game nights, group discussions (including “Ask Mr. P!” and college prep) and skit night at the end of camp.


A relaxing day off from studies to have fun at camp and on the East End! Outings include trips to the movies, to the beach in East Hampton, to shops, and more.

The Perlman Music Program String Orchestra

Conducted by Itzhak Perlman, the PMP String Orchestra is truly one-of-a-kind.  Students are seated non-competitively to eliminate the pressure of “ranking”, and they rotate seats between movements so each player has a chance to take leading and supporting roles. 

The result is a seamless ensemble of energetic and joyous music-making at the highest level.

During camp, the orchestra meets for an hour and a half, 3-4 times a week. Most rehearsals are open to the public.

Find out when the ensemble rehearses and performs on our calendar of events, and see the orchestra in action in the “Look & Listen” page.  

Chamber and Contemporary Music

Chamber music is integral to the PMP curriculum. Through chamber music, students gain essential skills in listening, matching, cueing, and balance. Beyond the score, students build life-long collaborative and communication skills, learn how to give and receive constructive criticism, and offer mutual support.

The chamber music curriculum is divided into trimesters, and students are assigned a new chamber music group every two weeks. Groups rehearse regularly and receive coachings from Associate Director Merry Peckham. At three special Works in Progress concerts during the summer, each group has a chance to perform.

One trimester is devoted to contemporary music, directed by composer Nathalie Joachim, who leads an insightful introduction to a new musical language. Students explore modern works for string ensembles, taking time along the way to share their thoughts and reactions. The curriculum is rooted in Toby Perlman’s belief that all students should experience new music early in their training.

Chamber music coachings are occasionally followed up by music theory sessions.

The Perlman Music Program Chorus

All students, fellows and faculty (including Mr. and Mrs. Perlman) take part in daily choral rehearsals, led by PMP’s choral director, Patrick Romano.

While students are not expected to be trained singers, PMP believes that the skills needed for singing directly correlate to those they are mastering on their instruments.

Members of the Shelter Island community are invited to lend their voices and audition for the PMP Chorus; please contact to get involved. 

Works in Progress Concerts

With their teacher’s approval, students may volunteer to perform at Works in Progress (WIP) concerts. Held on most Friday and Saturday evenings, WIPs are opportunities for students to play through their recital and chamber music repertoire for a supportive audience. Students are encouraged to take artistic risks and explore their repertoire, a core value of PMP. Everyone at PMP attends the performances, and students introduce each other’s pieces, honing the valuable skill of speaking from the stage. Students are accompanied by a collaborative pianist who works with them throughout the summer in lessons and studio classes. Visit our Events page for upcoming Works in Progress concerts on the PMP campus!

The Annual Family Concert is a PMP tradition and a community favorite. Students collaborate with Merry Peckham, fellows, and faculty to create an amazing introduction to the classical music world for local children and families. The family concert includes a fun skit, popular songs, colorful costumes and sets – and everyone has a chance to contribute to the day! Afterwards, students run an “Instrument Petting Zoo” where young audience members can try youth-sized instruments.   

After the family concert, PMP kids are in for a big adventure of their own – the Amazing Race! 

How old do I have to be to come to PMP, and what instruments do you accept?

We accept students of the violin, viola, and cello age 12 to 18 as of the first day of camp, which will be June 20 for the 2020 program. Please note that students who play multiple instruments are required to choose a focus of study before applying.

How do I apply, and what is the deadline?

Applicants are required to complete a brief questionnaire and submit up to four video samples of their playing in an online form. The admissions office suggests several samples that demonstrate a variety of styles and skills, decided in consultation with the applicant’s teacher. The repertoire is open-ended for violists and cellists. Violinists are asked not to submit performances of Bach E Major Partita and Shostakovich Concerto. Piano or orchestral accompaniment is required for all concerto submissions. Audio is not acceptable.

Applications for the 2020 Summer Music School are now being accepted at, and the deadline is January 15, 2020. Please send any questions to

Please note that videos may submitted via upload to our secure server or weblink to YouTube or Vimeo. Both uploads and links are accepted in the application when it becomes available; please do not submit links or videos via email. 

How good do I have to be to get in?

The level of playing is very high, and the applicant pool is extremely competitive. While we wish we could take everyone who is qualified, many talented students who would do well at PMP are not offered a spot because we believe that the secret to our success is the small size of the program.

Do you require an interview or letters of recommendation?

No, the admissions office does not conduct interviews or accept letters of recommendation. Admissions decisions are made based solely on your video submissions.

What is the cost to attend, and is financial aid available?

For the 2019 program, tuition per student is discounted to $7,000, and no student is ever turned away due to inability to pay. Financial aid is available to those who demonstrate need. Those who seek financial assistance must submit the financial aid application, accessible here, when they submit their application for study. While PMP cannot waive the application fee, submissions prior to 12/15/2019 receive a discount; see for details. Specific questions may be emailed to

How long is the program? May I attend part-time, or leave and return to play a concert or audition?

Students stay in residence for the full seven-week program and are not excused from camp for any reason other than emergency. 

Where do we stay? Can my parent/guardian stay with me at camp?

The 28-acre waterfront campus is located on Shelter Island, NY; see here for directions. Students reside in dormitories on campus, separated by gender. Roommates are assigned by age. Fellows reside in dormitories with students. Parents and guardians are not allowed to stay at camp or visit unannounced. However, they are invited to attend any of the public events during the program.

What's a fellow?

Fellows are counselors who lend a helping hand to our faculty and staff and ensure that camp is a healthy, safe and fun place to be!

What happens if I get hurt, sick or get a performance injury at camp?

PMP has a nurse in residence on campus 24/7, and has a local doctor who treats students who get ill while at camp.

Toby Perlman, faculty and staff provide support to students dealing with a performance injury. These students take time off from playing and are encouraged to take part in PMP activities to their best ability.

How is the food?

PMP’s food is the best! Our faculty, staff and students expect nothing less. Chef Jim will take care of you – be sure to indicate any special needs or allergies on your health form before you come to camp!

I’m in a wheelchair. Can I come to camp?

Of course! PMP is ADA compliant and then some. All our stages and common spaces, and most rehearsal spaces, are accessible, and we have accessible living spaces on campus as well. For off-campus venues, we make custom adjustments to ensure the stage is accessible for all.

Upon acceptance, we'll discuss your specific situation to make sure we meet all your needs - from transport to your accommodations and more.  

What if my English is limited, or I don’t know any yet?

We offer support for students for whom English is a limited or new language. Many of our students, faculty and staff are multi-lingual and help integrate new students into the community. Applicants and parents are encouraged to discuss the specifics of their situation with our admissions staff via email to

Are classical music jokes allowed?

Yes, but only if they’re viola jokes.


LAST UPDATED AT 6:00 PM EST ON 10/31/2019.

Information for Students

Students arrive Saturday, June 20 by noon and depart Monday, August 10, 2020. Students from abroad may arrive on the afternoon of Friday, June 19. Please confirm your travel plans with Anna Kaplan via email, before booking. 

Please keep in mind that Shelter Island is a 2.5 hour drive from NYC metro airports, and 3.5 hours from EWR. The camp provides 1 group transport option to and from Manhattan at the start and end of camp. Detailed information about arrival and departure can be found in the Arrival/Departure Form

Once admitted, please submit your non-refundable $500 deposit. Please submit your payment online via this link, or send checks to our NYC office:

The Perlman Music Program, 19 West 69th Street Suite 1101, New York, NY, 10023

Your tuition balance and each of the following forms, filled out in their entirety, must be submitted by June 1, 2020. Tuition is discounted to $7,000 per student (this includes the $500 deposit). Financial aid is available based on need. 

No one will be allowed to come to camp without having sent all forms.

Send all forms (or submit online where applicable) to:

The Perlman Music Program
19 West 69 Street, Suite 1101
New York, NY 10023
Phone: 212.877.5045
Fax: 212.877.3259


Forms to submit: 
Summer Music School 2020 Arrival/Departure Form
Summer Music School Health Form, including Medication Forms and Meningitis Form
Liability Waiver [under 18]
Liability Waiver [over 18]

Other information:

Contacting your Child
Summer Music School Student Packing List

Directions to camp