2021 Electives

The Summer Music Academy is unique in offering an extensive list of music and non-music electives. For students considering a career in music, these electives offer an array of experiences that will hone interests and provide new musical experiences typically not available in most summer music programs.

Electives are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, typically starting towards the beginning of June. Registration information will be sent via email to all parents before enrollment opens. Posted electives subject to change depending upon interest and enrollment. Students in the Performance Track must choose Practice Time for at least one elective period – all others are not required to select a Practice Time session.

Elective Schedule

Elective Period 1 (2:00 PM) Elective Period 2 (3:00 PM)
Introduction to Sound Recording Technology (Klingensmith) Introduction to Sound Recording Technology (Klingensmith)
Yoga for Musicians (Grajo) Yoga for Musicians (Grajo)
Introduction to the Guitar (Gillen) Introduction to the Guitar (Gillen)
The Sounds You See: How Music is Used in Film (White) Vocal Jazz Ensemble (White)
Conquering Performance Anxiety (Rochford) Introduction to the Piano (Holzhauer)
History of Popular Music (Keefner) Modern Band (Keefner)
Monologues for Musicians (Adams) Let's Create an Original Musical! (Adams)
Beginning Conducting (Benware) Exploring Historical Events Through Musical Theatre (Benware)
Introduction to Percussion Instruments (Alexander) Introduction to String Instruments (Sulbaran)
Introduction to World Music (Earll) Anatomy and Physiology of the Vocal Instrument (Walz)
Jazz Improvisation and Standards I (Bernard-Papachryssanthou) Introduction to Composition (Oxford)
Jazz Improvisation and Standards II (Weiser) The Musical Mind (Peebles)
Practice Time Preparing for a Career in Music (Witek)
--- Practice Time

Elective Descriptions

Introduction to Sound Recording

Students will learn basic recording concepts that will include cable and connector identification, interconnecting of audio equipment, microphone technology, live sound, and remote recording techniques.

Instructor – Luke Klingensmith


Yoga for Musicians

This course is designed with two aims.  The first is to help students unwind, relieve tensions, refresh the mind and body, and leave with a sense of renewal.  The second is to set the foundation for a regenerative yoga practice that students can build upon at any time beyond the course.  Expect to learn sequencing, technique, and posture modifications while nurturing seeds for lifelong self-care.  

Instructor – Shayna Grajo


Introduction to the Guitar

This course is designed for students with little or no background in playing the guitar. Students will obtain a functional understanding of the guitar, as well as tools for the continued exploration of the instrument beyond the scope of the class. Emphasis will be placed on right and left hand technique, basic chord shapes, and reading skills. Guitars will be provided. 

Instructor - Matthew Gillen


The Sounds You See:  How Music is Used in Film

This elective examines various ways music is used in movies. Using a variety of short movie clips, we’ll look at how music is used to set a mood or provide atmosphere, reflect emotion or project underlying psychological aspects, reinforce or contrast with the action on the screen, suggest new story dimensions or provide a composer’s comment, build a sense of continuity throughout the story, and otherwise help make a film memorable and marketable. Other uses will be covered as time permits. (Due to the time of day, popcorn will not be provided---sorry!)

Instructor - John White


Vocal Jazz Ensemble

For musicians new to this genre or those with prior experience, this elective explores the exciting world of ensemble jazz singing. We’ll rehearse at least four tunes in contrasting styles (blues, samba/bossa, swing, funk), focusing on vocal techniques essential to the vocal jazz idiom. We’ll also cover the foundations of vocal improvising (scat singing), especially building a step-by-step approach for how to get started. Bah vah deh bahp!

Instructor – John White


Introduction to the Piano

Students who have limited experience playing the piano will have the opportunity to learn the basics.

Instructor - Mary Holzhauer


History of Popular Music

The landscape of American popular music has shifted dramatically over the past several centuries and has been defined by innovation, happy mistakes, and misunderstandings. But what does that have to do with music today? How has race and gender influenced American popular music? How has society influenced the direction of pop art? Come explore the misconceptions, brilliance, and surprises that have led to the music you know and love.  

Instructor – Jon Keefner


Modern Band

In this course students will learn how to engage in informal music making practices such as learning by ear, songwriting basics, and jamming. Guitars, basses, drums, and keyboards will be provided with some instruction but any instruments and singers are welcome. Learn how to hone your aural skills in a supportive, self-directed environment. 

Instructor – Jon Keefner


Monologues for Musicians

Are you preparing to audition for a show or a college? Not sure what to pick or how to make your work shine? Or maybe you feel like you need to grow your skills on performing monologues in a play? Come prepared with a goal and come prepared to learn from others' performances and the direction others are given as well as your own. If you have specific material, great, if you don't, the instructor will help you find something. We will create supportive and rigorous work environment. 

Instructor – Holly Adams


Let’s Create an Original Musical!

You've performed in them, dreamed up character ideas as you fell asleep, heard music in your head--let's put it all together in this collaborative class that begins with brainstorming and ends in an informal performance (which we will film). On the way we struggle with structure, linger over lyrics, and prune stuff we wish we could keep... and make fabulous art. 

Instructor – Holly Adams

Introduction to Composition

Students will get the opportunity to begin composing their own music!  Time will be divided every day between instruction and composing.  The participants will listen to a variety of classical music, discuss techniques for crafting a cohesive piece of music, and learn about various computer-assisted compositional techniques utilizing notation software. Participants are asked to download a Virtual Piano application to a device to be used during the elective.

Instructor - Joshua Oxford


Beginning Conducting

This course is designed to equip the student with the fundamental skills of conducting, including baton position, left hand technique, score reading and preparation, transposition and rehearsal procedure. Members of the class will also function as the ensemble and each person will have the opportunity to conduct the ensemble. 

Instructor – Drew Benware


Exploring Historical Events Through Musical Theatre

From "1776" to "Miss Saigon," "Assassins" to "Evita," "Parade" to "Hamilton," and the list goes on, the musicals of Broadway have long been an outlet for composers to explore historical events or the dramatized lives of historical figures. This elective will explore several such musicals through video recordings, plot outlines, and audio tracks, complete with opportunities for class participation. Come see why Composers like Jason Robert Brown, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lin Manuel Miranda, Stephen Sondheim, and so many more love to tell history through their art form! 

Instructor – Drew Benware


Introduction to Percussion Instruments

Open to all SMA students, this class will explore the basic techniques involved in playing the major percussion instruments which include snare drum, mallets, timpani and drum set.  Everyone will have the opportunity to play each instrument and explore what each area of percussion has to offer for everyone’s enjoyment.  No previous experience with percussion is required.  Instruments will be provided. 

Instructor – Conrad Alexander


Introduction to String Instruments

Open to all SMA students, this class will cover the basics of how to play the violin, viola, and cello. Topics will include posture, plucking, bow hold, left hand position, and tone production. Students will have the opportunity to try out each instrument, and will perform a simple song at the end of the two weeks. No previous experience required.  Instruments will be provided.

Instructor – Cassandra Sulbaran


Introduction to World Music

This class explores the wide variety of music practices from around the globe.  Throughout "Introduction to World Music" we will learn about some of the musical traditions of: Sub-Saharan Africa, Northern Africa and the Middle East, Central Asia, India, & Eastern Asia.  We will discuss some of the fundamentals of Ethnomusicology, which studies the relationships between cultures and musical activity, and will help prepare you to discuss unfamiliar music and traditions in a respectful manner.  This class allows you to take a musical journey across the world! 

Instructor – David Earll


Jazz Improvisation and Standards I

Students will learn the basic elements of how to improvise and compose an effective jazz solo. No previous experience in jazz or improvisation required. 

Instructor – Alejandro Bernard-Papachryssanthou


Jazz Improvisation and Standards II

Students will learn more advanced techniques of how to improvise and compose an effective jazz solo, such as playing over more challenging harmonies and more difficult songs. For students with previous jazz and/or improvisation experience. 

Instructor – Nick Weiser


The Musical Mind

In this class students will participate in a variety of activities to explore the musical mind. We will consider how music shapes the brain and how the brain shapes music. Topics include: perfect pitch, earworms, musical prodigies, and music therapies. 

Instructor – Crystal Peebles


Anatomy and Physiology of the Vocal Instrument

In this course we will learn about the anatomy of the vocal instrument through hands-on and visual resources. As we learn what the instrument looks like, we will also explore how the anatomy works together to produce sound. Topics covered include vocal health, breathing for singers, making sound and resonance. 

Instructor – Ivy Walz


Conquering Performance Anxiety

This course will examine the various factors that contribute to music performance anxiety. In addition, students will be introduced to techniques used to cope with this problem and will practice them in class. 

Instructor – Benjamin Rochford


Preparing for a Career in Music

This course will explore the practical aspects of selecting and preparing for a career in music. Upon completion of the course students will be familiar with practice techniques, time management, goal setting, cultivating a positive mental attitude, overcoming performance anxiety, audition preparation, proper etiquette for working with other musicians, and resume writing.  Sample topics covered:  Deciding on a career in music;  How to motivate yourself to practice;  Time management/goal setting ;  Developing a practice routine;  Identifying skills to improve upon;  Cultivating a positive mental attitude;  Overcoming performance anxiety;  Music apps to help in your practice sessions;  Audition preparation;  Proper etiquette for working with other musicians;  Resume writing.

Instructor – Aaron Witek