2023 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.

Elective Schedule

Period 1 (1:30 - 2:20 PM) Period 2 (2:30 - 3:20 PM)

Music of the African Diaspora from Africa to America (Whitehead) - Beeler (3104)

Theater Improvisation:  Lots of Fun and Seriously Serious (Adams) - Nabenhauer (4308)

Improvisation for All (Shaut) - IRR (4306)

Songwriting (Shaut) – 2102

Introduction to the Guitar (Guarino) - 3304

Introduction to the Piano (Holzhauer) – 1101

Yoga for Musicians (Grajo) - 3302

Self-Care for Musicians (Grajo) - 3302

Introduction to Learning the Art of Magic (Stanley) - Nabenhauer (4308)

Elements of Jazz Through History, Style, and Improvisation (Treat) - 3304

Introduction to Composition (Callister) – 2102

Beginning Music Theory (Callister) - 2310

The Collaborative Sound Recording Experience (Ogilvie) – Iger (2105)

The Collaborative Sound Recording Experience (Ogilvie) – Iger (2105)

SMA Klezmer Experience (Zawel) - Presser (3102) Introduction to Conducting (Rochford) - Presser (3102)
Practice Time Practice Time

Elective Descriptions

Beginning Music Theory

Students will delve into the fundamental building blocks of music theory and will solidify their understanding of note reading, notation, clefs, meter signatures, key signatures, scales, intervals--and beyond! An introduction to sight-singing will also be included. No prior experience with music theory needed.

Instructor – Parker Callister


Elements of Jazz Through History, Style, and Improvisation

Students will be introduced to defining elements of jazz through learning a bit of history and by listening to representative jazz artists. Students will learn to perform several jazz standards while concentrating on the elements of jazz style and will learn the steps to improvise on these songs.

Instructor – Michael Treat


Improvisation for All

A course which will foster musical creativity and improvisation and is open to all instrument areas.

Instructor - Dan Shaut


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 music, discuss techniques for crafting a cohesive piece of music, and learn about various computer-assisted compositional techniques utilizing notation software.

Instructor – Parker Callister


Introduction to Conducting

Students will learn basic conducting technique including various meters, styles, and dynamic ranges. Members of the class will also function as an ensemble and each student will gain experience conducting their peers. This course will be taught by an experienced ensemble director and conducting teacher.

Instructor – Ben Rochford


Introduction to Learning the Art of Magic

Students will work with and learn magic with everyday objects: newspaper and paper, playing cards, money magic with coins and bills, rubber bands, paper clips, corks, dice, etc.  They will work on puzzles, deductive and inductive reasoning, and thinking outside the box.  Students will start to learn how to interact and entertain an audience by using patter and stories with the mechanics of the magic.

Instructor – Mike Stanley


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 - Peter Guarino


Introduction to the Piano

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

Instructor - Mary Holzhauer


Music of the African Diaspora from Africa to America

Participants will experience African drumming and dance and a survey of African-American music from opera to hip-hop.  No prior experience in drumming or dancing required.  Click on this link to see a recent performance by the Ithaca College West African Drumming and Dance Ensemble:


Instructor - Baruch Whitehead


Self Care for Musicians

This class introduces balanced approaches to mental health and "you" time.  Through activities such as meditation, journaling, nature walks, and light stretches, we will regulate the nervous system, enjoy calm, and give space for authentic self-expression. 

Instructor - Shayna Grajo


SMA Klezmer Experience

Klezmer was originally the ritual and celebratory music of the Yiddish-speaking Jews of Eastern Europe, where it developed over the course of many centuries. Brought to North America with the Jewish immigration wave from Russia and other Eastern European countries during the turn of the 20th century, a modern klezmer tradition developed in the urban centers, particularly in New York City.  Since the 1970s, a dynamic revival of this tradition has been taking place. It has since become one of the most visible transnational music and culture movements involving thousands of participants on five continents.  The SMA Klezmer Experience will welcome students to a trove of ancient melodies and a communal sense of folk music-making. We’ll learn tunes both by ear and off the page. All instrumentalists are welcome, regardless of previous experience, cultural identity, or instrument.

Instructor – Ryan Zawel



Students will analyze songwriting techniques using popular music of different eras and genres. Using standard techniques used by successful songwriters, students will begin to write their own unique song.  

Instructor – Dan Shaut


Theater Improvisation: Lots of Fun and Seriously Serious

From comedic to serious, from games of wit to character-driven 'long form', improv always involves listening to your partner, supporting the story, and thinking on your feet. Come prepared to work hard, learn lots, and have fun!

Instructor – Holly Adams


The Collaborative Sound Recording Experience

Instrumentalists and vocalists will collaborate to produce and record a song by the end of the week. Students will follow a predetermined song form developed by the instructor and be given the opportunity to contribute artistically throughout the recording process.

Instructor – Tyler Ogilvie


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