2024 Intermediate 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. *All students must choose practice for one elective period.

Intermediate Elective Schedule

1st period


2nd period


3rd period


Music from Africa to America – Baruch WhiteheadTheater Improvisation: Lots of Fun and Seriously Serious - Marie Sirakos/Holly Adams Elements of Jazz Through History, Style, and Improvisation – Mike Treat
Exploration in Studio Art – Julianne HunterImprovisation for All – Dan ShautSongwriting – Dan Shaut
The Collaborative Sound Recording Experience – Tyler OgilvieThe Collaborative Sound Recording Experience – Tyler OgilvieSMA Klezmer Experience– Ryan Zawel
Introduction to Composition – Parker CallisterBeginning Music Theory – Parker CallisterYoga for Musicians – Jill Pace
Introduction to the Guitar – Peter GuarinoIntroduction to the Guitar – Peter GuarinoIntroduction to Learning the Art of Magic – Mike Stanley
Introduction to Conducting – Ben RochfordIntroduction to the Piano – Mary HolzhauerIntroduction to the Piano – Mary Holzhauer
PRACTICE - One practice period required of all students.PRACTICE - One practice period required of all students.PRACTICE - One practice period required of all students.

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 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


Yoga 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 - Jill Pace


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, Marie Sirakos


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


Exploration in Studio Art

Students will have the opportunity to explore many different practices in art making for this course. Drawing, bookbinding, ceramics, cyanotype, printmaking, collage, painting, and papermaking will allow students to tap into another creative side of themselves. Each day will have a unique focus and present the opportunity to learn new skills and methods of making. No previous experience is required. Most materials will be provided, but a notebook, sketchpad, pencils, pens, or other general art supplies are helpful, if you have them available!

Instructor - Julianne Hunter