Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s Young Composers Project is a hands-on learning experience that guides students from understanding basic music theory through the creation of a new work for symphony orchestra. Students will dive into the creative process of composition as they learn about orchestral instruments and diverse musical genres and composition techniques from the best musicians and composition instructors in Southern Arizona.
As a student in the Young Composers Project, you will have the unique opportunity to work directly with professional TSO musicians, observe closed dress rehearsals, meet renowned guest artists and work with professional composers—privileges granted only to Young Composers Project students! At the end of class, you will leave with an original score you wrote, printed, and bound yourself and a professional audio recording of your composition. The class culminates in the Young Composers Festival each May, during which the Tucson Symphony Orchestra performs your original work.
The Young Composers Project is a course from September to May for young musicians ages 8–18. Now in its 31st year, the Young Composers Project has produced more than 445 new works by young composers.
All music students age 18 or under are encouraged to join the Young Composers Project. Student applicants must have a basic ability to read music, either as an instrumentalist or a vocalist, but students do not need to have any prior composition experience. We welcome students from all experiences and musical backgrounds, and formal classical music training is not required. In the past, students that are self-taught, singers, or play non-orchestral instruments have been successful in the Young Composers Project, as well as those that are classically trained. If you are not sure if you or your student is eligible, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
First, complete the application form. The form will ask for basic student and contact information, as well as musical background and composition experience (if any). Upon submission of the application form, you will receive a copy of your responses by email. This is confirmation that your application was received.
Within the form, you will be asked to select a class level. Our goal for class placement is to identify where you or your student will best achieve success within our challenging curriculum. If you are not certain for which class you should register, please make your best guess based on the guide below, and contact email@example.com for further guidance. Final decision on class placement will made by the instructors after an initial assessment questionnaire on the first day of class.
Class Level Guide
- Introductory Class: if you recently learned to read music, have never composed before, or are an elementary student, this is likely the right class for you.
- Intermediate Class: if you have studied some music theory, have composed some but only for one or two instruments, or have completed the Introductory Class, this is likely the right fit for you.
- Advanced Class: if you have completed at least one year of the Intermediate Class and are ready to move up, or have extensive composition experience, this most challenging class may be the right fit for you.
After completing the application, each new student will need to submit two letters of recommendation from people who are familiar with their musical abilities. For example, a school music director, private teacher, choir leader, etc. Please send these in by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Returning students who have participated in the Young Composers Project recently do not need to submit letters. If this step of the process presents a significant barrier to application, please contact email@example.com to discuss potential accommodations.
Application Deadline: August 19, 2022. All materials must be received by this date, including letters of recommendation. Once all materials are received, students will be notified of acceptance into the program. If classes have reached capacity, students will be notified that they are on the waiting list, and will be contacted if a spot opens up.
Classes begin in early September, and students have until October 1 to switch class levels or drop the class. The full schedule for each class, with deadlines, will be posted in July.
Tuition payment can be sent as soon as your application is complete, and must be paid in full by October 1 in order to continue class. Tuition covers classes September through May (two semesters), including a professional performance and recording of each student’s final composition project. Tuition: Introductory ($350), Intermediate ($450), Advanced ($500).
Financial aid is available in the form of needs-based scholarships. Generous funding by TSO donors allows us to provide partial or full scholarships to a small number of Young Composers students. Please indicate on your application form that you are interested in applying for financial aid, and staff will contact you with the aid request form.
Classes will take place in person at the Tucson Symphony Center, 2175 N. Sixth Ave, Tucson AZ 85705.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions about the application process.
Experience the Young Composers Project through this short documentary featuring four student composers as they progress through the class, their composition process, and the Young Composers Festival.