Giving Kids the Respect and Freedom to Explore

If you were to write a history of Kinhaven from 2000 to today – about a quarter of its history – you’d be well advised to start with Martin Jacobs, whose knowledge must be encyclopedic. Marty, a pianist, attended Junior Session from 2003 to 2006, Senior Session in 2007 and 2008, and the Adult Chamber Music Workshop in 2013. From 2014 through 2016 he was on the activities staff. Then, in 2017, he attended the Young Artist Seminar and did so again this summer. Oh, and he estimates he takes about 1,000 photos a week at Kinhaven.

One of his favorite memories links his early years to his recent years. During his last year of Junior Session, Marty was assigned the last movement of Schubert’s Trout Quintet. “I was so happy to get that,” he says. The coach for that was long-time viola faculty Kathleen Foster. Years later, In 2017, he played the piece again at the faculty concert for Junior Session – this time with Kathleen in the group.

Since completing his undergraduate studies at Juilliard and his master’s in performance from the University of Montréal, Marty has been living in New York City, “doing a lot practicing, teaching, and collaborative piano,” while deciding his next career move. He is considering continuing his studies and entering competitions, and while he doesn’t yet have a fully formed vision of his professional life, he says, “I know piano will be a big part of it.”

Many Kinhavenites, asked to reflect on their favorite Kinhaven traditions, mention the butterscotch brownies, folk dancing, and Wally Wampus, and Marty does so as well. “But more than any one specific thing,” he says, “it’s the respect and freedom the faculty gives the kids to explore themselves as musicians and people, and to make some mistakes.” He appreciates this even more as an adult. He credits Kinhaven Co-directors Tony Mazzocchi and Deborah Buck for creating a climate where exploration and risk-taking are encouraged. “They are really good at giving everyone the room to feel comfortable being who they are, and they have woven a supportive net of faculty and staff to guide Kinhavenites on their journey.”

Marty says that Kinhaven solidified his desire to go into music. He applied to both colleges and conservatories, “but when it came time to make the decisions, it felt the most natural and right to choose a path of music, and Kinhaven was the biggest influence on making that feel right to me. Kinhaven showed that music could be the primary focus of your life and demonstrated that it could work for me.”

Having spent so many of his summers at Kinhaven, Marty sees Kinhaven as having been foundational to his personal development. “At first it had this indescribable magic, something in the air: Vermont, the campus, the people. But more than that, I always felt that Kinhaven prepared me well for the next year of my life. The expectations that came with being a year older usually started in the summer.” And professionally as well: Marty’s first job was at Kinhaven, “so it also prepared me for the expectations of having a job.”

Marty likes to say that “Kinhaven is the reward for and the antidote to the demands of the rest of the year,” adding that it offers “a chance to join a community that has a plan for you and for your summer. You’re going through it, you’re working hard, and you’re not alone.”

All photos in this post by Marty Jacobs.

To hear Marty play, visit

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