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Music Composition


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Padera at Piano

How often will I have composition lessons?

All undergraduates and graduate students, except for freshmen, have one-hour private lessons per week with a teacher. Freshmen have private 30-45 minute lessons per week in addition to a weekly freshman seminar.

Can I have lessons on an instrument?

Undergraduates need to take two years of instrumental lessons. Most often, students take piano lessons (you don’t have to audition for the piano studio). If you wish to have lessons on an instrument other than piano, you need to take an instrumental audition in order to be accepted into a studio. Masters students take one year of instrumental lessons.

How many students are in the Composition Program?

We generally have 14-16 undergraduate and graduate composition students each year. We also have a small number of composition minors in our Program.

What kind of opportunities will I have?

There are numerous opportunities available each year for composition majors, from competitions and reading sessions to lessons with guest composers and student collaborations. Please check the Program Activities link for a full list of our annual opportunities.

What have recent students gone on to do?

After graduation, several composition students have gone on to masters and doctoral degrees in universities around the country. Recent graduates have gone composition programs at Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Colorado at Boulder, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Our former students have also received recognition in the field, including awards such as the Guggenheim Fellowship, Aaron Copland Award, ASCAP Plus Award, and Rockefeller Foundation Artist Fellowship. Former students have had their works performed by violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, eighth blackbird, International Contemporary Ensemble, Turtle Island String Quartet, Cavatina Duo, Sequitur, Alarm Will Sound, Volti, Mizzou New Music Festival, Bang on a Can, Accessible Contemporary Music, Attacca Wind Ensemble, Assad Brothers, Philadelphia Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, and the Louisville, Austin, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras.

Additionally, several of our former composition students started musical organizations after graduation. In particular, they created Access Contemporary Music, Anaphora Ensemble, Chicago Composers Orchestra, Singers on New Ground, and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Players.

Can I take classes outside of the Music Conservatory?

Undergraduate students are required to take 15 credit hours of non-music, academic electives. Graduate students don’t have this requirement, but can take courses if they desire; however, these classes won’t count towards their degree program.

I'd like to use the Electro-Acoustic Studios to compose works. Do new students have access to the Studios right away, or do they need to take a class first?

If you are a composition major, then you will have access to the Electro-Acoustic Studios right away. However, if you don't already have prior experience in electro-acoustic music, then you will need to first take the Electro-Acoustic Music sequence, which is offered every other year.

What types of assistantships are available for Masters students?

Students interested in the M.M. in Composition may be interested in applying for any of nine half-assistantships available at CCPA. The half-assistantship includes 50% tuition coverage, as well as an annual stipend of $2500. Assistantships are awarded for one year; graduate assistants will be evaluated at the end of the first year and may be invited to return with the approval of the faculty. Assistantship areas include Composition (1), Music Theory (3), Musicology (1), Choir (1), Orchestra (2), and Collaborative Piano (1).

Graduate Music Assistantship Application Information