At auditions and college visits, when I tell people that I’ve already composed three operas, they think I’m a graduate student. I tell them ‘No, I’m about to be a freshman!’ And they can’t believe it.”
— Karen, Music '17

Rooted in tradition while looking to the future, Music Department students receive mastery level training in four stylistic areas: classical, jazz, experimental, and commercial music. Music Department students grow into versatile, adventurous, and collaborative artists under the guidance of first-class professional musicians in the artistically rich city of Chicago. With this holistic and practical approach to music education, students are prepared to join the music industry as it exists today and to create the music landscape of the future.

Music Department Classes

Private Lessons: The focus of the Music Department curriculum is private instruction with Academy Faculty. Each student receives two private lessons per week. Our outstanding faculty members are all renowned professional musicians who prepare music department students for recitals, competitions, juries, and auditions.

Ensembles: In the Music Department, ensemble study encompasses a range of genres and styles. Each student participates in at least two ensembles that rehearse twice per week. These ensembles are coached by academy faculty members who prepare the students for concerts, festivals, competitions, and auditions.

Academy Ensembles

  • Chamber Ensemble

  • Jazz Combo

  • Electronic Ensemble

  • New Music Ensemble

  • Classical Vocal Workshop

  • Vocal Jazz Ensemble

  • Pop/Rock Ensemble

Studio Class: Studio Class is another central aspect of the department. Students perform repertoire from private lessons & ensembles in Studio Class and receive feedback from faculty, guests, and fellow students. Studio class takes place weekly and includes the entire Music Department population.

Musicianship: Musicianship is the non-performance course required of all Music Department Students. The four levels of this course explore Music Theory, Piano Skills, Ear Training, Composition, and Music History. This curriculum is unique to the Academy experience and includes a universal exploration of non-Western, popular, folk, jazz, and classical music genres. In Musicianship, we ask and seek to answer these questions: Why does music exist? Why is it a necessary part of the human experience? Where do we fit in the evolution of music and how can we use our music to contribute to society? At The Academy, we know music is a powerful force; Musicianship is a key component of the curriculum as we seek to unlock and master this force.  

Recording Arts and Commercial Music Program: The RACM program serves as an introduction to the basics of audio hardware and signal paths in tandem with the use of Digital Audio Workstations. The course will focus on the production of music, radio spots, programming of MIDI melodies, and song creation and recreation. In doing this, the students will develop and gain engineering and music production skills in recording, mixing, editing, arranging, and composition. This will be accomplished in harmony with a fundamental understanding and a historical perspective of the architecture of music concepts such as scales, keys, chords, melody, rhythm, meter, song form, musical textures, re-mixing loops, and tempo maps, which will be covered in this class.

Read more about our Recording Arts and Commercial Music Program here.

Music Department Performances

On-Campus Student Concerts: Our In-House Concert Series features four, department-wide student performances each year. The Music Department strives to produce engaging and unique concerts, many of which break from the traditional concert format. We frequently include classical, jazz, experimental, and commercial music performances on the same programs. Each year, at least one department-wide concert focuses on historically suppressed and excluded composers or artists. The final department-wide concert, Without Genre, showcases student-created, collaborative works. Additional performances, such as studio recitals, ensemble concerts, Opera performances, or jam sessions, may be scheduled throughout the year as well.

Off-Campus Student Concerts: In the culturally rich city of Chicago, Academy Music Department students have the opportunity to perform off-campus in historically revered venues such as the Jazz Showcase, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Epiphany Center for the Arts, Ganz Hall at Roosevelt University, the Fulton Street Collective, The Botanical Gardens, and The Center on Halsted. Students may also be selected to perform professionally for corporate or private events. In addition, Music Department students participate in festivals and clinics including the ILMEA district festival, the University of Illinois’ Chicago Jazz Festival, and the Arts Schools Network Annual Conference.

Senior Recitals: Each senior performs a Senior Recital as part of the Music Department graduation requirements. This performance showcases the skills and repertoire they have developed through private lessons, classes, and ensemble study. The recital serves as a senior project.

More about the Music Department


The Justin Tranter Recording Studio

More about Classical Piano at The Academy

More about Drums and Percussion at The Academy

More about Bass at The Academy

*Course titles reflect transcripts for the 2017-2018 freshman class.