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Applied Lesson – PSC

Composition is taught in weekly hour-long private lessons and in the weekly Composition Seminar. Professional Studies Certificate composers may choose to study with one private teacher over the course of the academic year or with two private teachers; a different one each semester.

The department strongly believes that composing is a practical act and that a consistently high production of music followed by hearing this music in performance is of major benefit to a student composer. Feedback, growth, and assessment depend upon faculty being able to hear and see a student's developing voice and in helping to identify problem areas, habitual weaknesses, and dead ends. For this reason the Applied Lesson carries specific minimum requirements for the student's Portfolio, requirements for performances of their own work, and requirements to ensure frequent exposure to the music being written by their colleagues.

Applied Lesson 1 and 2

MU 785
Fall Semester
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: none
Meeting: one hour weekly
MU 786
Spring Semester
Credits: 3
Prerequisite: Applied Lesson 1
Meeting: one hour weekly

The Professional Studies Certificate is a program for advanced students who have completed an MM in Composition and who have begun to define an original voice. It provides numerous performance opportunities and the chance to deepen compositional experience.


• Attendance is required at every lesson 
• Attendance is required at every concert of the CRS (Composer Recital Series)
• Late arrival to a lesson or a concert may be counted as an absence
• Applied Lessons missed due to illness or emergency may, at the discretion of
    the instructor, be made up before the end of the semester
• Two unexcused absences drop the final grade by one letter grade
• Three unexcused absences result in a final grade of F 

Performance Requirements

The minimum requirement for public performances of music by PSC students is to have at least one new work performed on the CRS.


Students are required to compose a minimum of 30 minutes of music over the course of the program.


Individual Composition Juries, lasting 15 minutes, are held in the final week of each semester. These provide an opportunity for a student to receive feedback from faculty other than his or her private teacher. They also provide the opportunity for faculty to assess a student's portfolio and to offer observations and suggestions for future direction. Students receive scans of all panel members' written comments after each Jury.

In advance of each jury students submit a portfolio which should consist of:
• pdf scores of all works written or completed during the semester
   (scans of hand-written scores or sketches are acceptable)
• a program note (100 to 400 words) for each submitted new work
• mp3 recordings of all works premiered during the semester


The final grade for the Applied Lesson rests largely upon an assessment of the student’s growth as a practicing composer, taking into consideration completion of the portfolio and performance requirements. The Applied Lesson grade consists of two components: the private teacher's grade, worth 70%, and the jury grade, worth 30%. 

The Private Teacher grade is calculated from assessment in five areas, each worth 20%:
• creativity and originality
• notation: clarity of conveyed intentions
• ability to write effectively for instruments and voices
• progress and growth 
• effort and application

The Jury Grade is calculated from assessment in four areas, each worth 25%:
• creativity and originality
• notation: clarity of conveyed intentions
• ability to write effectively for instruments and voices
• progress and growth


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