We encourage each student's innate musical creativity with studies in composition. Their pieces are heard in the Performance Workshops and at the year-end Composers Concert, performed by Academy students, faculty, and friends.
All Theory (Literature & Materials of Music) classes incorporate composition as a learning tool, but composition is more intense for composers. Students may work privately with their own composition teachers and/or with professional composers on the Academy faculty.
Students in the beginning composition course receive instruction in the fundaments of compositional craft: basic counterpoint, melodic construction, motivic development, and introductory instrumentation. Students generally produce 2-3 short works using principles learned in class.
The intermediate level of the composition series builds on the skills introduced at the basic level. Principles of harmony, voice leading, and form are discussed, with reference to both common-practice tonal and contemporary styles. In this course, students generally write 1-2 works of larger scope that are played by Academy students and/or faculty during the performance workshop.
This course is intended for students with substantial preparation, equivalent to or exceeding that which would have been attained through sequential enrollment in the basic and intermediate courses. Student projects are much freer than in the basic and intermediate levels, are typically longer in length, and written for much larger forces (large chamber ensembles, chamber orchestra, etc.). Students at this level frequently participate in juried competitions and external composition workshops, such as the Seattle Symphony's Young Composers Workshop. Many graduates from this course have gone on to pursue composition at the undergraduate level at major universities and conservatories across the United States.