For Musicians

Programs of Study

The National Music Festival offers apprenticeships in all orchestral instruments, conducting, arts administration, concert production, piano technology, recording engineering and music library. Apprentices are selected via a competitive application process, and all accepted apprentices receive full tuition scholarships and housing. 

Please explore this section of the site for more information about the NMF experience and how to apply.

Select a Program to Learn More:


As an orchestral apprentice at the National Music Festival, you will have the opportunity to play in a variety of orchestral and chamber repertoire. You will work closely with your mentor(s) and other apprentices in an intense, demanding and rewarding schedule of rehearsals and concerts.

The daily schedule will usually consist of orchestra rehearsals in the morning, chamber music or chamber orchestra rehearsals in the afternoon and one or more concerts in the evening. The second Sunday will be a free day for you to enjoy the Kent County and Chesapeake Bay communities. Everyone will play in at least three orchestral programs and one or more chamber works. Several workshops will be offered in areas including managing stage fright, taking auditions, audience interaction, entrepreneurship and the business of music.

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Conducting Institute

The National Music Festival is accepting applications for Assistant Conductor to the Festival Symphony Orchestras. Under the direction of the Artistic Director, Richard Rosenberg, the Assistant Conductor(s) will serve as cover conductor and assist the conductors/guest conductors as assigned as well as conduct several concerti, orchestral works and large chamber ensemble music in performance. S/he may be asked to periodically help the librarian and with some administrative duties, though there will be one library apprentice and five administrative apprentices as well.  The assistant conductor will be an apprentice to the National Music Festival, and all apprentices receive a full tuition stipend as well as housing.

The deadline for reduced-fee applications is February 10 (the fee for conducting applications is $70 through February 10, and $105 afterwards). The Assistant Conductor(s) must arrive early and remain through the end of the Festival.

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Arts Administration

National Music Festival Arts Administration Apprentices work independently and as a team to assist in the management of a music festival with multiple nontraditional venues and an intense schedule. The Festival produces approximately 35 performances and 200 free open rehearsals in a two-week period. For the 2020 season, Arts Administration Apprentices are required to arrive in Chestertown on or around May 20, and will depart on or around June 16.

Apprentices will be provided with hands-on experience in:

  • Operations
  • Marketing (including social media) and publicity/media relations
  • Development
  • Internal communications
  • Venue liaison
  • Box office
  • Volunteer supervision
  • and more.

An effort will be made to assign each apprentice to projects that fit their skills, interests and desired career path. Arts Administration Apprentices will work closely with the Festival’s Executive Director and Director of Operations. Arts Administration Apprentices must arrive early in order to assist with Festival preparation, and stay briefly after the Festival as well.

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree or equivalent, either completed or in progress. An interest in arts administration as a career option, and a willingness to learn. Experience in nonprofit and/or classical music organizations is helpful, but not required. A love of classical music and an entrepreneurial attitude are advantages, as are self-motivation and the ability to work independently.

Benefits: Full scholarships and housing will be provided to each accepted apprentice. We will be happy to provide recommendations and references for employment, advanced training and/or scholarships following successful completion of the apprenticeship. For those needing to complete an internship as part of their degree requirements, we are happy to work with you and your college or university to allow you to receive college credit.

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Music Library

Music library apprentices will work closely with Library Mentor Robert Stiles, the Principal Librarian of the Detroit Symphony.

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Recording Engineering

Apprentices will assist Recording Mentor Ben Schwartz in all areas of recording production, including recording all concerts (as well as orchestral dress rehearsals) for submission to National Public Radio.

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NewBassoon Workshop

The 2022 NewBassoon Workshop has been cancelled. Announcing the next NewBassoon Workshop, June 4-11, 2022 in Chestertown, MD, held in conjunction with the National Music Festival. Each summer, leading American bassoon artists and teachers, Michael Harley, Lynn Hileman, Saxton Rose, and Rachael Elliott, all members of the pioneering bassoon collective Dark in the Song, present a week-long workshop on contemporary bassoon literature, performance techniques, and pedagogy. Designed for college students and beyond, participants work closely with the faculty and a new guest each year in a variety of settings, including master classes, private lessons, and ensemble coachings. Highlights include: faculty and student performances, experiential workshops, and alternating bi-annual Performance and Composition competitions.

How to Apply: Applicants should email a resume and short statement of interest to Michael Harley, NewBassoon Workshop Director,, on or before May 1, 2022. Accepted Workshop Fellows will be sent registration and payment information.

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