Fine Arts Clinics, Camps and Workshops

We offer annual music education and entertainment opportunities for the region, including the NSU Band Clinic and South Dakota Jazz Festival.
Jazz Camp

At the NSU jazz camp, you'll have the opportunity to play in various jazz groups, take lessons, learn about improvisation, enjoy social and recreational activities and participate in nightly jam sessions.

  • Classes
    • All students will have a chance to be part of a jazz big band. Rehearsals will be held each day, with a final concert Saturday. You'll learn to play a variety of jazz style, including swing, Latin and funk/rock.
  • Lessons 
    • Each student will have one lesson, with the option of taking more. Lessons will help you improve tone, technique, style and improvisation.
  • Improvisation Class
    • Improvisation classes will be divided into beginning, intermediate and advanced groups. This is a great time to "get your feet wet" or improve the improvisation skills you already have.

The Gordon Institute for Music Learning and Northern State University are proud to offer



Early Childhood Music: Level I

Level I Certification

June 19-30, 2017

Learn More and Register

Rushmore National Music Camp: Junior High Week

July 30-Aug. 4, 2017      

NSU Campus Band students entering grades 6-9 are welcome to attend the Rushmore National Junior High Music Camp on Northern's campus in Aberdeen. Guided by camp counselors, students stay in Northern dorms and enjoy meals in NSU's dining hall, the Wolves' Den.


The camp offers many performance opportunities and individual lessons from music educators and professionals, as well as daily recreational activities. For details, visit or follow the camp on Facebook.

Voice Camp

The NSU Voice Camp is ideal for young singers in grades 7-12 who love to sing and want to learn more about their voice and the world of the singer-actor in a supportive atmosphere.

  • Classes
    • Daily classes will include vocal warmups, health and care of your voice stage department, song interpretation, diction for singers, acting, jazz, movement, small-group ensembles, and choir. All students will participate in choral ensembles. Enjoy recreational and social activities while learning about music and vocal technique.
  • Lessons ​​
    • Students are asked to bring one prepared song to work on in lessons and classes. Acceptable categories include classical art song, age-appropriate aria, folk song, or musical theater selection. It's helpful if the song is memorized or close to it. If you don't have a song to bring to camp, one will be assigned to you.
    • Each student will have one lesson, with the option of taking one additional voice lesson. Lessons will focus on posture, breathing, breath support, healthy production and projection.
71st Annual Band Clinic: Fall 2017

Greetings from Dr. Rolf Olson, director of bands at Northern State University! The NSU Band Clinic is the longest-running band festival in South Dakota. The one-day festival consists of two student festival bands and the NSU Symphonic Band, along with workshops for students and directors. The 125 to 175-piece clinic bands are equal in size and balance and rehearse during the morning and early afternoon.

What’s New

Several exciting changes will enhance the clinic/festival this year. Each student will receive a T-shirt, which should be worn at the concert. We will also offer a catered lunch on campus for students and directors, giving them a chance to see other parts of campus and visit with NSU band students. Finally, the concert will take place in the beautiful new Johnson Fine Arts Center Main Theater, offering a wonderful visual and aural experience to complete the day.


General Schedule

The clinic begins with check-in at 8 a.m. and culminates with a concert at 3 p.m.

Nomination Process

The instrumentation of the bands is based entirely on director nomination and past experience of the student nominated. EVERY student nominated will be chosen to participate, so please nominate only your most outstanding and deserving students. We must have two quality bands capable of putting together a program in a limited amount of rehearsal time. Please nominate upperclassmen when possible.


  • Registration/Nomination Form
  • We can accept late registrations; however, we cannot guarantee names will make the program after the cutoff date, which is 5 p.m., Nov. 1.  The clinic fee is $15 per student, payable to NSU Band Clinic and sent to Laura Haar, NSU Music, 1200 S. Jay, Aberdeen, S.D. 57401.
  • The NSU Band Clinic will recognize four-year participants. Please indicate the number of years your students have participated in the clinic when you register your students. Four-year participants will receive an NSU music scholarship.

Music will be available in late October.


Guest Ensembles



Detailed schedules and information will be emailed after the registration period and during the week before the festival. 


More Information

Please contact Dr. Rolf Olson at or 605-626-2501 with questions.


Past Programs
48th Annual South Dakota Jazz Festival

Jan. 18, 2018

Johnson Fine Arts Center, NSU

Registration to be announced in late 2017/early 2018


Start your jazz festival season off at NSU! The 47th South Dakota Jazz Festival will be held in the newly renovated Johnson Fine Arts Center at Northern State University. Vocal jazz, combos, and big bands are welcome to participate in competitive and non-competitive categories to best serve musicians and music educators. Featured artists are soon to be announced.
Ensembles eligible to perform at the festival
  • Big Band: A minimum of nine instrumental musicians performing with the traditional Big Band part assignments
  • Jazz ComboA maximum of eight musicians - usually with at least a bass, drums, and piano or guitar. Including instrumentalists or solo singers is very common.
  • Vocal Jazz Ensemble/Swing ChoirA vocal ensemble that performs jazz with a minimum of dancing. (No show choirs, please)
  • Details and Rules


Vocal Dr. Wendy van Gent,, 605-626-7753

Band Dr. Grant Manhart,, 605-626-2982

Band Dr. Terry Beckler,, 605-626-3436