December 13, 2019

Adult Classes At Interlochen Ignite Artistic Ambitions

By Kristi Kates | Nov. 11, 2016

Interlochen is synonymous with all things artistic for no less than five reasons. Four different divisions of Interlochen – the arts camp, the boarding school, the Interlochen Presents performance series and Interlochen Public Radio – all combine to "ignite a lifelong passion in the arts." In 2005, it welcomed a fifth division, the Interlochen College for Creative Arts, which focuses on adult continuing education.

"When our current president Jeffrey Kimpton arrived, he talked with adults across the country who were affiliated with Interlochen, whether as alumni, students or parents," explained Leslie Donaldson, Interlochen’s director of engagements. "We heard from a lot of people who didn’t attend Interlochen as kids because of finances, or because they didn’t think they’d get in if they applied. Many of them expressed a definite interest in coming back to Interlochen as an adult, so we launched these new programs especially for that purpose."

While the adult chamber music camp at Interlochen has been ongoing since 1953, it was the only program for adults. Now that camp is included in the rest of the College for Creative Arts offerings, which focus on five different disciplines.

"We offer classes in creative writing; visual arts; music; media, which is audio storytelling; and professional development opportunities, which are primarily for creative entrepreneurs, artists, musicians and K-12 educators," Donaldson said.

In the creative writing department, you can take classes like The Art of Observation (notebooking for poets), or Deep Revision Writing, the latter being Interlochen’s first residency for adult students.

"That one will be a dedicated writing residency with quiet time to write, mentored by Interlochen staff and including fireside chats and social events," Donaldson said.

Example classes include visual arts offerings like needle felting or "winter wonderland" landscape painting; music courses like Introduction to Piano for Adults and the popular ukulele three-hour workshop; and media classes like website design or introduction to digital audio with IPR. Several separate video lessons are also available online, and an additional series of dedicated online courses is in the works to round out the class offerings.

"It can be hard for people to get here (to Interlochen), especially in the winter months," Donaldson said. "So we’re launching our online programs for adults in February, with classes including blogging, a flash fiction writing course, and more."

Fourteen adult programs will be offered for all of the winter/spring season, with around 125 students anticipated, most arriving from less than two hours away; those numbers are expected to increase now that the adult programming is being offered year-round. "By comparison, summer adult education classes offer 52 programs, and we enroll around 800 people from as far away as Chicago and Detroit," Donaldson noted.

One thing you can breathe a sigh of relief about is that unlike Interlochen summer camp or the boarding school, you won’t have to apply, audition, or send in a portfolio to take the adult education classes. "Some courses for absolute beginners might have a minor prerequisites – for instance, you might need basic guitar skills if you’re taking a guitar course," explained Donaldson. "But for most of the classes, you simply enroll in whatever you’re interested in."

The start of the winter/spring adult semester begins in early February, with enrollment starting in December (Donaldson recommends you sign up as early as possible).

Costs are as low as $45 for the three-hour ukulele workshop; or up to $1,500 for the writing retreat, which also includes lodging. The courses reflect the diverse interests of the community and visiting students. "We try to be really mindful of what other opportunities already exist in the area for adult classes, music and art especially," Donaldson said. "So we try not to step on any toes, and make an effort to offer classes that are unique. It’s all about giving people the opportunity to get that experience of "˜attending Interlochen’ – we just want to help fuel your artistic spirit."

For more information, or to sign up for adult education classes at the Interlochen College for Creative Arts, visit college.interlochen.org or call 231-276-7387.

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