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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Concert Production

Production apprentices will work with Stage Manager Jeff Padgett. Duties will include setting up for rehearsals and concerts and transporting equipment (including instruments) to rehearsal and performance venues.

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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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Piano Technology

In addition to working on performance instruments under the guidance of Alan Rothschild, apprentices will have several project pianos to practice upon.

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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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The mission of the Vocal Apprentice Program is to provide collegiate-level singers with performance opportunities through solo voice, chamber music, and orchestral concerts; offer an opportunity to study with and learn from professional singers about the craft of performance; and increase exposure to a wide variety of vocal repertoire.

The Vocal Apprentice Program will include:

-Daily Masterclasses led by the festival’s voice mentors (each apprentice will have the opportunity to sing in the masterclass at least once per week)

-1 private voice lesson per week

-Opportunity to perform in at least one of 4 vocal concerts (There will be two evening and two afternoon vocal performances, each open to the public)

-Performance with the NMF Orchestra in at least one large concert work

-Weekly Vocal Seminar on rehearsal and performance preparation, public speaking, audience engagement, and artists in society

-Coaching with Festival mentors from both the Voice and Collaborative Piano programs

-Coaching with apprentices in the Collaborative Piano Department