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Singer-Songwriter at Arts Academy


Why Study Singer-Songwriter

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If your dream is to write lyrics, perform your own songs, or hit the stage with a band, we can help get you there. At Interlochen, you'll develop a personal music style and prepare for a dynamic future in the music industry.

What You’ll Learn

In the Singer-Songwriter program, you’ll be given opportunities to perform solo as well as with one of our popular music groups—The Wrecking Crew and The Revolution—and other ensembles. You'll also study the ins-and-outs of the music business. 

Our top-rate instructors have extensive teaching and industry experience. They’ll help you find your voice, gain confidence, and cultivate a unique style that reflects you. While offering the individual attention you need, your faculty will also provide guidance in your college search or career path. 

As a student of the Singer-Songwriter program, you will:

  • Analyze writing habits and patterns and evaluate effectiveness in a variety of contemporary and traditional styles
  • Comprehend differences among well-written and well-performed and produced songs
  • Demonstrate new methods of writing to give voice to something outside one’s own experience
  • Collaborate with other Interlochen students, writing songs, arranging instrumentation, and performances
  • Synthesize and apply knowledge of the relationship among lyrics, melody and harmony
  • Create professional quality recordings using the digital workstations
  • Create a professional portfolio of original songs

Core Curriculum

Audition Requirements

For more information on graduation requirements and academic curriculum, please visit Academy Academics.

Meet the Faculty

Our faculty members have extensive experience as recording artists, producers, and industry professionals. They continue to nurture their professional relationships while dedication their time to developing young performing artists.

All Faculty

Courtney Kaiser-Sandler

Courtney Kaiser-Sandler

Chair of Contemporary Music; Instructor of Singer-Songwriter

Joshua Davis

Joshua Davis

Instructor of Singer-Songwriter

Get to know Emma

"I've had amazing teachers here. They bring a great environment to class every day—and I know I'll continue those relationships while I'm at college." - Emma, Singer-Songwriter

Guest Artists

In the past year, Singer-Songwriter students have learned from and collaborated with the following artists:

  • Tracy Bonham, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter
  • Andrew Dost, F.U.N.
  • Sharon Van Etten, singer-songwriter
  • Lance Horne, Emmy Award-winning composer, lyricist, & performer
  • Rami Jaffee, Foo Fighters / The Wallflowers
  • Mat Kearney, singer-songwriter
  • Damian Kulash, OK Go
  • Michael McDonald, Mick Management
  • Tim Nordwind, OK Go
  • John Strohm, President of Rounder Records
  • Shara Wordon, My Brightest Diamond

Program Highlights

Annual Tour

Each year, auditioned and selected Singer-Songwriter majors experience the life of a touring artist during a weeklong tour throughout the midwest with stops in Nashville, Chicago, and Detroit to name a few. During the tour, you'll perform both electric and acoustic sets at diverse venues and engage in other meaningful experiences such as college visits, elementary school performances, studio tours, and volunteer opportunities.

Awards & Honors

Singer-Songwriter students regularly compete and excel in national competitions and award programs. Recent honors include: John Lennon Songwriting Contest, Michigan Music Education Association Honors Competition, National YoungArts Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts: Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge, International Songwriting Competition, NASA’s Humans in Space Youth Art Competition, and Indie International Songwriting Contest. We've also had faculty and students experience success on The Voice, America's Got Talent, and American Idol.

Industry Courses

In addition to our songwriting, voice, and instrument lessons, you'll learn about other aspects of a professional career in music through courses that center on audio recording and production, performance and creative identity, and the music business. 

The Music Center

Our state-of-the-art 60,000 square-foot music facility has two 3,500 square-foot rehearsal halls, two recording studios—which allow for rehearsal and performance recordings in multiple venues on campus—multiple ensemble and practice rooms, and individual faculty teaching studios. Learn more about The Music Center.

Their own best place: Singer-Songwriter in the Music Center

Get a glimpse of Interlochen’s new Music Center, where Singer-Songwriter students learn, rehearse, and perform in state-of-the-art studios.

Within the program you become such a tight-knit family. You know everything about each other, you know everyone's songs, and everyone builds each other up. It's not competitive; everybody loves everybody's music and loves everyone as a person.

Ava, Singer-Songwriter

Gaining perspective with Claud

Learn more about singer-songwriter Claud and what they are up to after life at Interlochen.

Read Claud's story

A person in a yellow shirt

College Matriculation

Singer-Songwriter students regularly enroll in top music programs and conservatories including:

  • Belmont University
  • Berklee College of Music
  • California Institute of the Arts
  • Detroit Institute of the Arts
  • Institute of Contemporary Performance
  • Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
  • Los Angeles College of Music
  • Loyola University New Orleans
  • Musicians Institute
  • The New School
  • New York University
  • Syracuse University
  • Colorado State University
  • University of Hartford
  • University of Miami
  • University of Southern California