Singer-Songwriter Core Curriculum

The Singer-Songwriter program provides a comprehensive curriculum in the discipline of popular music songwriting. Students foster their own personal musical style while developing skills in melody, harmony, arranging and lyric-writing. Instruction in piano, guitar and voice are also provided to further the students' performance abilities.

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

In this course, students explore the skills and concepts fundamental to live sound reinforcement, audio recording, and audio editing. This is a hands-on course. Theory and application are introduced simultaneously, and projects reflect the interests and disciplines unique to each participant. This is a cross-curricular course available to all students.

The Private Lesson is individualized and tailored to the level, background, and needs of each student. It stresses a solid foundation in technical skills and covers a wide range of literature. Private study includes studio classes which provide students an opportunity to perform for their peers in an informal setting.

Academy Choir is a requirement for all Voice majors and is open to all students. The choir participates in numerous concerts during the year, performing works from a diverse range of styles, time periods and composers.

In this course, students explore the following questions: How much do you know about how you perform? Are you effective outside the technical skills of execution? What makes the audience want to keep coming back to watch you? Through self evaluation, peer feedback, and teacher guidance, students dig deeply into what challenges and strengths they have in their ability to perform. Topics include the self editor, presence, intention, the role of the audience, and how to get ready to have a healthy, positive performance experience. This course introduces positive performance practices. This class also serves as a college audition and prep course during the fall semester.

This course examines the relationship between music and lyrics as two intertwining pillars of a song. Students examine their ability to capture an idea, mood, setting, theme, or feeling in the appropriate form, whether it be melody, song structure, chord progression, rhyme scheme, or more. The first semester is open to all music majors, with only Singer-Songwriter majors continuing into second semester.

While listening to vinyl recordings spanning from the 1960's to the present, students explore and examine music in the book series 33 ⅓. Class discussions surround what is highlighted in the book series, examining each recording's significance, recording process, writing, performance, lyrics, arrangement, and more.

In this course, students explore the business of contemporary music. Topics discussed include copyright, music supervision, how to build a team, crowdfunding, publicity (bios, branding, cyber PR and printed), touring, PRO's, publishing, establishing yourself as an artist with the IRS, good book keeping, write-offs, entertainment law, and more.

This course is designed to dive deeply into songwriting concepts, collaborative writing, and learning to use the DAW (digital audio workstation) Logic. The course is team taught by the songwriting faculty.

Contemporary Theory begins with a review of fundamentals including intervals, triads & seventh chords, scales, keys, and chord inversion. We will study extended chords (jazz harmonies), diatonic harmonic function, cadence, and chromatic chords, particularly secondary dominants and related ii chords. Projects include transcription and arranging for individual instruments and small groups.

This course explores popular songs from the past in a performance-focused setting. Students are placed into bands and work together to match the tone, style, and feel of an original recording, while presenting the song as a polished performance during class time. Students learn how to hear and delegate parts, how to rehearse as a band, and how to realize a performance that is audience-focused and enjoyable to watch. This class is required of all songwriting students unless permission has been obtained from the Chair of Contemporary Music. This class serves as a pre-requisite for auditioning as an instrumentalist for the Popular Music Ensemble.

Students may audition to perform in various Popular Music Ensembles. These ensembles perform rock and roll, pop, and other contemporary styles, serving as the standing band for the Singer-Songwriter program.

Four-year senior students work with faculty to record an album and all the parts needed for a full album release. These parts include collaborating with film students on several different types of music videos, press release photos along with long bio, short bio, and elevator pitch. Under the direction of their faculty mentor, they will create a timeline for the release itself along with singles and other social media marketing culminating in the booking of a summer tour if the student is interested and able. Alternatively, a four-year senior student in songwriting may work with the Chair of Contemporary Music to obtain permission of an individualized capstone project with the facilitation of their songwriting studio instructor.

Sample Singer-Songwriter Curriculum for a 4-Year Student

Semester I and II

Required Courses
Private Lesson: Singer-Songwriter / MUS048
Choir / MUS055
Music Theory / Musicianship / MUS101-502
Singer-Songwriter Workshop / MUS111

Elective Courses
Performance Lab / MUS227
Group Lesson (Piano or Guitar) / MUS199/211
Intro to Jazz Improv / MUS208

Sample Academic Courses
Algebra I; Biology; English I; French I


Semester III and IV

Required Courses
Private Lesson: Singer-Songwriter / MUS048
Singer-Songwriter Workshop / MUS111
Songwriting Foundations I and II / MUS106
Performance Lab / MUS228

Elective Courses
Jazz History / MUS210
Group Instrument Class (guitar or piano) / MUS199/21
Music Archaeology / MUS107
Keyboard Skills / MUS415
Introduction to Audio Technology and Production / PROD092

Sample Academic Courses 
Geometry; World History; English II; French II


Semester V and VI

Required Courses
Private Lesson: Singer-Songwriter / MUS048
Popular Music Ensemble / MUS313
Songwriter Theory / MUS219
Recording Techniques / PROD112
Performance Shangri-La / MUS105

Elective Courses
Space at the Table / MUS113
Jazz Improv I / MUS208
Group Instrumental Class (Guitar or Piano) / MUS199/21
Group Vocal Class / MUS115
Composition / MUS213

Sample Academic Courses
Algebra II; U.S. History; English III; Chemistry


Semester VII and VIII

Required Courses
Private Lesson: Singer-Songwriter / MUS047
Music Business / MUS109
Space at the Table / MUS113
Popular Music Ensemble / MUS313-314
Senior Capstone (3 or 4 year students only)

Elective Courses
Jazz Improv II / MUS307
Intro to Audio / MUS090
Musicianship Skills/Theory / MUS215
Group Instrumental Class (Guitar or Piano) / MUS199/21
Vocal Coaching / MUSXXX
Recording for Film/TV / MUSXXX
Performance Shangri-La / MUS105

Sample Academic Courses
Precalculus; Ecology; English IV

Updated for course catalogue 2020-21.