To those of you who are nurturing a young music student in their artistic growth -- kudos for helping them embark on this wonderful journey!
Studying music is a great way to encourage young students to exercise problem-solving skills, develop a sense of discipline, and practice working as part of a team.
Yet, new musicians -- adults and kids alike -- often decide to learn an instrument because they want to find a new way to express themselves.
But after decades of experience in my own musical journey, I will tell you --
Simply learning how to play an instrument does not give students this freedom of expression, even when they get pretty skilled at it.
Many young musicians find themselves having to perform in a manner that is acceptable to their directors or instructors.
While there will always be something to learn from this method of training, it can leave students asking, “When do I get to play what I want? Is this what I signed up for?”
In some cases, this can result in students not practicing, even if they say that they are truly interested in music.
Or, even when you find your child “practicing,” they aren’t really playing what has been assigned to them.
However, what I often want to tell parents is --
Your kid can have their cake, and eat it too! They can study music in a traditional manner and still have a say over how they want to express themselves.
One of the best ways for young musicians to develop or regain this sense of freedom is by writing their own music.
If you have a young music student who is constantly
noodling around on their instrument,
making up their own songs, or
trying to figure out new tunes by ear,
then learning to compose their own original music could give them the key to unlock their artistic voice!
Let me assure you, the roadblocks that you are facing with your child are not your fault!
If you have helped them to get an instrument and/or begin lessons, you are already helping them make strides towards success!
The thing is, both classroom music programs and private lessons tend to be very performance-focused.
Kids learn how to play their instruments and read music. They are assessed by how well they perform, and if your child is in a very competitive program, these festivals and competitions can consume quite a bit of the curriculum during the school year.
And there’s nothing wrong with that!
In fact, if your child is performing regularly, they are probably getting a very healthy music education.
But how would your child feel if they could be empowered to:
take their learning into their own hands?
be confident in their ability to express themselves?
turn their creative ideas into something that they can share with the world?
Sakari is an amazing instructor! She is very knowledgeable, but also patient and kind. She instills confidence in young musicians. She makes learning fun! Would highly recommend her!
— Terri G., parent of 5th grade violin student
Introducing the. . .
You(th) Can Compose! Summer Workshop™
The ultimate program for young musicians who want to turn their creative ideas into a reality in 14 days or less!
And I promise, it will be downright fun! All while equipping your child with the tools that they need to be the self-driven and highly creative artist that they are.
In YCCSW, your child will find inspiration in experimenting with a variety of approaches to writing music.
As their ideas blossom over the course of both weeks, they will develop the ability to shape their inspirations into a performance-length original work.
Ultimately, they will feel empowered to make their own decisions about their artistic vision and gain the freedom to more fully express their own creative impulses.
Sign up before June 12th and save! (deadline extended from June 5)
Enroll and pay tuition in full by Sunday, June 12th in order to get 15% off of any tuition package.
As an added bonus, your student will also get free enrollment in the You(th) Can Compose! Jumpstart from June 21-23 -- a $99 value!
All you need to do is complete your application at the link below and use the coupon code EARLYBIRD22 at checkout.
In addition to living my dream as a freelance composer and violist, I’ve also had the privilege of teaching hundreds of K-12 students over the last decade in one-on-one and group settings.
With every new teaching opportunity, I eagerly embrace the challenge of tailoring a curriculum that is “just right” -- one that meets students where they are currently but also pushes them to reach new heights in pursuit of their individual goals.
Like many music students, I got my start in elementary school.
I signed up to learn the violin as soon as I had the chance, but my parents weren’t able to afford private lessons until I was in the middle of high school.
It wasn’t long before I decided that music was what I wanted to do for a profession, so I took advantage of every opportunity to soak up whatever instruction I could get from the many directors and school teachers who supported me.
Thanks to a composition project in my orchestra class in the 6th grade, I became obsessed with writing my own music.
Whenever I had time outside of class, I wrote duets, trios, and quartets for friends to perform. Year after year, I asked my teachers for permission to program several of these works on school concerts.
Little did I know, this sort of determination that I learned from composing and getting my music performed was the perfect practice for the “real world.” My desire to take risks and create my own opportunities has been key to my success as a freelancer.
It’s a skill that can be applied to any field, and it has helped me to be resilient in an ever-changing world!
I don’t think I would have learned that so early on if I were only waiting on my directors and mentors to give me instruction.
For this reason, I have always been passionate about giving young music students tools to express themselves fully and take charge of their own education. Composing music is the perfect way to start!
Sakari is a gifted teacher of course, sensitive to what she hears and sees in her students and responding to them so that they can grow in their skills and musicianship
— Anna Ancheta, Executive Director of MUSICA! (El Sistema USA)
Over the course of three weeks, your child will participate in interactive projects where they will explore many different approaches to writing music.
They will love being able to interact with our esteemed guest artists -- professionals who will share about their music careers and their approach to composing. YCCSW students will have the rare opportunity to work directly with these professionals and receive input on their work.
Since this program is in a small group setting, your child will have plenty of opportunities for individualized feedback while being able to learn from and interact with their peers.
By the end of the program, your child will compose and perform at least one solo piece, which they will showcase in a YouTube recital at a private link.
The You(th) Can Compose! Summer Workshop will be a great opportunity for your child to take their musical inspirations and make them into a reality! On top of that, they will be able to share their hard work with all of their family and friends.
“This workshop is a really awesome experience!”
— Angelica, YCCSW 2020 student
Meet Our Guest Artists for 2022!
Shelley Washington (b. 1991) writes music to fulfill one calling- to move. With an eclectic palette, Washington tells stories focusing on exploring emotions and intentions by finding their root cause. Using driving, rhythmic riffs paired with indelible melodies, she creates a sound dialogue for the public and personal discourse. Shelley performs regularly as a vocalist and saxophonist, primarily on baritone saxophone, and has performed and recorded throughout the Midwest and East Coast- anything from Baroque to Screamo. She holds degrees from Truman State University; a BA in Music focusing on saxophone, and a Masters of Arts in Education. She also holds a Masters of Theory and Composition from NYU Steinhardt, where she studied with Dr. Joseph Church, Dr. Julia Wolfe, and Caroline Shaw. As an educator, she taught for the New York Philharmonic's Very Young Composers program, and was acting Artistic Director for the Noel Pointer Foundation, located in Brooklyn, NY. In the Fall of 2018 she began studies at Princeton University in pursuit of the PhD of Music Composition. Shelley is a founding member of the composer collective, Kinds of Kings.
Kian Ravaei composes music that delivers bold melodies, heartfelt directness, and visceral power. His growing body of work has often been praised for combining ri-gorous compositional technique with naturalness and penetrating emotion. Born in 1999 of Iranian immigrants, Ravaei spent his childhood playing jazz, producing electronic dance music, and singing in a rock band when he should have been practi-cing piano sonatas. Ravaei's music has been performed by leading musicians and commissioned by notable organizations such as the Canadian Music Centre and Sa-lastina. He makes his home in Los Angeles, where he serves as a Composer Teaching Artist Fellow for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and studies music composition with Richard Danielpour — one of his favorite living composers — at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.
Get the best value if you sign up by June 12th!
Submit your application and tuition payment using the code EARLYBIRD22 in order to get enrollment in the You(th) Can Compose! Jumpstart for free! You will also get 15% off of any tuition package.
Add up the savings and that means you will save $224 or more. That’s a pretty sweet deal!
Tuition for the You(th) Can Compose! Summer Workshop starts at $839 per student for the Standard package.
This includes enrollment in 14 two-hour group classes plus a one-year subscription to Breezin’ Thru Theory and Composing where your child can continue to practice their skills all year long.
Looking for even greater value and more individualized support?
Upgrade to the Concertino package ($999 total) to get all of the above PLUStwo 45-minute, one-on-one lessons during the program.
Upgrade to the Premier package ($1359 total) to get everything in the Concertino package PLUS 6 additional one-on-one lessons to be used after the You(th) Can Compose! Summer Workshop. That’s 8 private lessons at a 25% discount compared to the standalone private lesson rate! This offer is not available anywhere else.
And remember –
Investing in the You(th) Can Compose! Summer Workshop will empower your child to become a more well-rounded musician.
Today’s most successful artists are multifaceted and rarely fit into cookie-cutter ideas of what a music career looks like, so why start them off that way? Your child might even discover a musical path that is just the right fit for them!
Even if your child does not intend to pursue music as a profession, they will gain so much joy in knowing that they have the power to express themselves in the way that they see fit.
With any package you choose, make sure you use the code EARLYBIRD22 at checkout if you would like to get your 15% discount on any package PLUS free enrollment in the You(th) Can Compose! Jumpstart from June 21-23.
You only have until June 12th to get these bonuses, so don’t wait!
That’s a savings of. . .
$125.85 on the Standard package + the $99 YCC! Jumpstart
$149.85 on the Concertino package + the $99 YCC! Jumpstart
and for the BEST value -
$203.85 on the Premier package + the $99 YCC! Jumpstart
Can I pay with a payment plan?
You certainly can! There are actually two payment options:
Option 1: Choose “Pay Now” or “Pay with PayPal” in order to pay in full.
Option 2: Choose “Pay with PayPal” to get the option to pay in installments.
There are two ways to pay in installments using PayPal:
(1) PayPal Credit, which charges no interest as long as you pay the full amount in 6 months, or
(2) Pay in 4, which breaks your tuition into four interest-free payments.
What are the class sizes?
In order to make sure that your student has access to plenty of support, classes will hold a maximum of 8 students.
What is the time commitment for the course?
In order to make sure students are ready to get the most out of YCCSW as soon as it begins, there will be a mandatory orientation to be scheduled in late June.
Classes will run from Tuesday, July 5th to Friday, July 22nd.Students will have 2-hour workshops on Zoom every weekday from 10 a.m. - 12 noon p.m. Pacific Time (1 - 3 p.m. p.m. Eastern Time).
In addition to the live Zoom workshops, students will need to set aside time to work on their composition projects outside of class. Your student can expect to do work independently for at least 30 minutes per day of the class, although this may vary from student to student.
What technology is required?
Chances are, you have everything that you already need at your fingertips!
But if you would like to be sure, here is what your child will need to have the best experience:
a computer or tablet with a built-in camera and microphone
a minimum internet speed of 4.0 Mbps
the Zoom video conferencing app on their device (Download it for free at www.Zoom.us/download. View the full system requirements here.)
exclusive access to their devices during class. (If more than one child will be attending, each will need their own device.)
a printer is recommended, but not required
What if my student has little to no experience with composing or music theory?
That's perfectly fine! In fact, the You(th) Can Compose! Summer Workshop is a great place for them to get started.
In YCCSW, they will learn to take their inspirations and make them into a piece that they can perform. Having a fully-completed piece will give them the confidence that they need to continue to express their musical ideas.
If your student does have experience with composing, then they will have plenty of support in taking their skills to the next level. They will also explore many different approaches to writing music so that they can have more techniques to draw from in future pieces.
Does my student need to be able to read music?
Yes! Your child will need to have a basic knowledge of reading on a musical staff (i.e. reading notes in treble, alto, and/or bass clef). This includes guitarists, who may be used to reading tablature or lead sheets.
They will need to be able to identify basic rhythms, name the pitches that they see, and perform from sheet music using their primary instrument.
Will my student learn to write songs?
So your child wants to be a songwriter? That’s great!
Although student projects may involve vocals or lyrics, the majority of the sessions will focus on writing instrumental music.
That being said, vocalists are definitely welcome! If your child is a vocalist, it can help if they have some fluency in a second instrument such as piano. However, that is not required -- the voice is an instrument too!
What if I want to enroll more than one child? Or bring a friend?
You are absolutely welcome to enroll multiple students! In fact, either siblings and/or friends can benefit from the referral discount. Refer a friend or bring a sibling and each student will receive a $90 rebate off of the price of tuition.
If you are enrolling more than one child, please submit an application for each individual. The full tuition fee will be due for each child in attendance -- you will receive any applicable rebates after YCCSW begins. Your child’s friend will need their parent(s) or guardian(s) to submit their own application.
If you will have multiple students attending from the same household, please keep in mind that each child will need their own device. Because Zoom is bandwidth-intensive, you may need higher internet speeds to accommodate several participants in your home. Additionally, each child will need quiet, separate spaces from which they participate.
Does my child need their instrument?
Students will need to have their primary instrument in their possession for the entire workshop.
If your child normally borrows an instrument from school, but they do not have access to it during the workshop, please consider renting an instrument from your local music store.
Is my student required to know how to play piano or guitar?
If your child plays piano or guitar, that's great! But it isn't necessary to play piano or guitar in order to learn how to compose.
During the You(th) Can Compose! Summer Workshop, your child will write for whatever instrument or voice type they are most comfortable performing with as long as they have a basic fluency in reading the notes on a musical staff.
This includes, but is not limited to, instruments and voice types that you commonly find in a band, orchestra, or choir.
Is my child required to take private lessons for their instrument/voice?
Though regular private lessons are ideal for any committed young musician, it is not mandatory for students to take private lessons while they are enrolled in YCCSW.
What happens if my child misses a day?
Classes will be recorded and made available to all participants via a private streaming link. Therefore, if your student would like to review or catch up on content, they can watch a video replay of the sessions.
However, your child will get the greatest benefit from the program if they are in attendance for all ten sessions. All classes will involve student participation so that they can get the most out of the learning experience.
Please reconsider your application if you plan on being unavailable for more than one class day. Additionally, students who plan to miss the first or last session (July 5th or 22nd) are not encouraged to apply.
Can my child really learn music online?
Of course! Online music lessons can be extremely effective even though they may feel very different from in-person lessons since the teacher is not in the same physical space.
After years of experience as both a teacher and a student in online music lessons and other courses, I can truly say that modern technology such as Zoom allows us to have an uninhibited learning experience.
In fact, I've found that students in my online music classes often become even more self-driven than if they were doing the same lessons in-person -- they quickly learn that it is imperative for them to take responsibility for their own materials and learning environment in order to have as efficient of a lesson as possible.
If your child is new to online music lessons, don't worry! As long as they have access to their instrument and the technology listed above, they will have plenty of support in learning how to adjust to the virtual format.
Two hours is a long time to be on a screen! How will my child be able to stay focused?
Agreed! However, the best part about having a longer session is that your child will have plenty of time to work on their projects during class where they can get immediate support and feedback.
Your child may also find that the two-hour duration gives them plenty of time for their creative ideas to unfold during the session.
In the You(th) Can Compose! Summer Workshop, your student will be able to interact with the concepts in-depth. This program is the perfect laboratory for creativity for students who are eager to explore new skills.
That being said, students who are willing to be engaged to the best of their abilities will get the most out of this program.
We will practice self care by taking a 15 minute break after the first hour of class. For the first 5 minutes, all of us will be encouraged to step away from the screen. For the remaining 10 minutes, students can opt to continue their break, work independently, or ask for some brief tutoring.
During the main session, we will often have projects where students work independently to brainstorm musical ideas on their instruments. This will also give them a break from the screen and from sitting still for the entire class.
What are the benefits of being in a group program? Can’t my child get this from private lessons?
Perhaps. One of the main advantages of group instruction is that students can really benefit from observing the feedback given to other students.
Since the classes are small enough where each student can have a voice in discussions, your child will benefit from the inquiries of others much faster than if they were limited to moving at the pace of their individual questioning and curiosity.
Plus, the activities in this course will be highly interactive, giving students plenty of opportunities to collaborate and learn from their peers -- an invaluable skill for any musician who wants to go far in their craft!
What happens after I apply and submit my payment?
Your application will be reviewed to make sure that your child is a great fit for this program. During the review, you may be contacted by phone or email regarding your application if any clarification is needed.
Once the review is complete, you will be notified by email to confirm if your student has been accepted into the program. You can expect to receive a response within two business days of submitting your application.
As soon as you submit your application and make your payment for the program, you can consider your spot reserved. However, if we decide that the program is not a good fit for your child right now, you will be guaranteed a full refund.
[Sakari] has a passion for teaching and makes even the most mundane of exercises fun and educational.
— Jordan C., adult violin student
Still on the fence?
Here's the thing --
Believe it or not, there are not many programs out there for young composers to get introduced to the art of composing and develop their ideas from start to finish, especially with this level of individualized support.
Even with teenagers, composition programs tend to follow the trend of the rest of the classical music world -- there is a lot of opportunity for competition, but little room for those who want to get started.
(Most programs want to see submissions of finished works with your application. I do not require this.)
It's really unfortunate, to be honest!
For most, private lessons are the first and only option.
However, one-on-one lessons rarely give kids a chance to interact and learn from their peers on a regular basis.
In school, students get to learn alongside their peers, but the focus is usually on performing in concerts.
Any opportunity to compose is usually a side project, and there is less time to learn in-depth or go "out-of-the-box."
At YCCSW, you can have your cake and eat it too --
the small class size means plenty of individual attention and peer interaction
you can start as a beginner and have the joy of writing (and performing) an entire piece
being in a group means lower pricing, but I promise, you will learn just as much as one-on-one (if not more!)
Did I mention that the price is less than half of the cost of your average private lesson per hour?
And unlike most summer programs, there's no need to shell out thousands of dollars in the cost of transportation or lodging for in-person classes.
Plus, each student will have a one-year subscription to Breezin’ Thru Theory and Composing, a browser-based app where they can continue to hone their skills at their own pace and get immediate feedback on their progress all year long. The value just keeps adding up!