Summer Guitar Students Gear Up for Bigger Things

The 2015 USC Summer Guitar Seminar after a Q&A session with the USC Thornton Admission team.
The 2015 USC Summer Guitar Seminar after a Q&A session with the USC Thornton Admission team.

The 2015 USC Summer Guitar Seminar after a Q&A session with the USC Thornton Admission team.

USC Guitar Seminar director Shea Welsh working with the 2016 class.
USC Guitar Seminar director Shea Welsh working with the 2016 class.

USC Guitar Seminar director Shea Welsh working with the 2016 class.

USC Summer Guitar Seminar - 2016 Showcase Event at Carson Center
USC Summer Guitar Seminar - 2016 Showcase Event at Carson Center

USC Summer Guitar Seminar - 2016 Showcase Event at Carson Center

USC Summer Guitar Seminar - 2016 Showcase Event at Carson Center
USC Summer Guitar Seminar - 2016 Showcase Event at Carson Center

USC Summer Guitar Seminar - 2016 Showcase Event at Carson Center

USC Summer Guitar Seminar - 2016 Showcase Event at Carson Center
USC Summer Guitar Seminar - 2016 Showcase Event at Carson Center

USC Summer Guitar Seminar - 2016 Showcase Event at Carson Center

The 2014 class on their field trip to The Fender Guitar Factory in Corona, CA.
The 2014 class on their field trip to The Fender Guitar Factory in Corona, CA.

The 2014 class on their field trip to The Fender Guitar Factory in Corona, CA.

The 2013 USC Summer Guitar Seminar on their field trip to The Hollywood Bowl.
The 2013 USC Summer Guitar Seminar on their field trip to The Hollywood Bowl.

The 2013 USC Summer Guitar Seminar on their field trip to The Hollywood Bowl.

Above, scroll through an album of images from past Summer Guitar Seminars.

Each summer, USC Thornton welcomes high school students from across the country interested in pursuing a future in guitar performance. The USC Summer Guitar Seminar, which takes place on our campus each June, is an intensive four-week course that prepares students for successful college and professional careers.

Shea Welsh (MA ’03), the program’s director, is a Thornton alumnus who is quite active in the Los Angeles jazz, rock, and pop scenes as a performer, songwriter and producer. Over the past 13 years, he has guided many of his summer students to become full-time Trojans. In the last five years alone, fourteen alumni of the Summer Guitar Seminar have gone on to attend USC Thornton.

“We are the wake up call for what your guitar skill, literacy, and proficiency levels will need to be to compete at a major college music program,” Welsh said. “We set the bar really high, challenge you to ascend to your next level, and then send you home with a game plan to get into the music program of your choice.”

Students spend six hours a day, five days a week, in studios and masterclasses learning from faculty of USC Thornton’s Contemporary Music Division. They are expected to practice for another two hours each night and to take part in the many performance opportunities across campus. The hard work earns them 3 USC college credits.

The USC Summer Guitar Seminar visits Tommy Trojan. (Photo courtesy Shea Welsh)

“Since we have so many of our alumni attending Thornton and then becoming successful Los Angeles musicians, I invite back as many as I can to candidly talk to the students about their own personal experiences going through the audition process and what it was like attending USC,” said Welsh.

In informational workshops, representatives from Thornton’s Admissions Office also answer questions about course offerings, the application process and choosing the correct major.

“Additionally, we take the students on field trips to the coolest concerts that are taking place in Los Angeles,” he added. “Previous shows have included Buddy Guy at the Hollywood Bowl, Robert Glasper at The Wiltern and Pat Metheny at The Greek Theatre.

“I think the seminar really shows the multitude of ways that Thornton can give these already talented students an edge,” Welsh said. “It helps them rise to the level they need to be at to compete here, but at the same time it shows them why they would want to be here and why Los Angeles and USC really is the best place to be for young musicians.”



For a list of USC Summer Guitar Seminar alumni who have gone on to become students at USC Thornton, click here. To learn more about applying for the 2017 Summer Guitar Seminar, which takes place June 18 to July 15, visit the USC Summer Programs website.