Young students perform a number during their end of day concert.

Young students perform a number during their end of day concert. Photo: Graham Tidy

''Muppets and Merry Melodies'' was the theme of the 38th annual Young Music Society's Summer School.

More than 350 young Canberrans aged from five to 17 came to Canberra Grammar School to take part in the two-week program from January 7 to 18.

One was Julia Cahill, 6, of Kambah, attending for the first time. ''I've been doing a lot of fun things,'' she said, ''like choir, and I learned to play three songs on my recorder. Two songs I learned - Mary Had a Little Lamb and Hot Cross Buns - and I learned Jingle Bells by myself.''

James Champion, 12, of Calwell, has been coming for the past eight summers and this year took up beginner saxophone as well as playing in a string ensemble and taking a composition class. ''It was called Writing a Loony Tune: we got a poem from a famous author and made up a song for it.''

Noemie Huttner-Koros, 16, of Aranda, first came to the Summer School two years ago and returned this year. Among her activities were singing and playing flute, which she has studied for the past seven years.

For all of them, being with friends old and new was a highlight of the experience.

Tim Bevitt was in his first year as creative director of the Summer School but he had taught on and off there since 1999.

He said the aim of the Young Music Society program, started by Judith Clingan 38 years ago, was ''for children to come in and experience music in an intense fashion. Every student has the opportunity to learn a beginner instrument from scratch and experience other aspects of music.''

This year there were 35 staff members, professional musicians or teachers. Mr Bevitt, 34, studied classical piano at the Canberra School of Music and for more than 10 years and has run music and creative arts programs in schools, as well as teaching piano.