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Composition and Musicianship

The Composition and Musicianship Department offers group classes and private lessons that deepen students’ understanding of how music works and fosters their ability to express themselves musically. The Musicianship programs give students a strong foundation in reading music, ear-training, and analysis. The Composition programs provide instruction on the techniques and processes of creating music in a variety of styles and genres, while allowing students to develop their skills through hands-on workshops and performances. Browse through the C&M offerings below to learn more

Young Composers Project

Musicianship Group Classes

Conducting Basics 

Private Lessons


Composition study involves intensive instruction on techniques applicable to classical music and a wide variety of other musical styles. It is a highly individualized program designed for anyone with an interest in creating their own music regardless of past experience.

Lessons include guided assignments and independent work on original compositions with targeted feedback from the instructor. Practice in music theory, ear-training, and discussion of professional topics are included where relevant to the student’s background and goals.

Click here to visit our private lesson page and learn more about tuition, registration, and the honors program.

Music Theory

Music Theory private instruction involves a combination of written theory, ear-training, sight-singing, and/or keyboard skills. The course of study is tailored to each student, taking into account their current level and goals. These lessons are intended for students interested in deepening their understanding of musical structures and improving their practical musicianship skills.

Our theory instructors can help students prepare for college entrance exams, placement tests, and/or the AP Music Theory Exam.  Please note that for such tests, early preparation is key! Students interested in taking theory lessons to prepare for a test are encouraged to start lessons the fall before the test will be scheduled. Later starts are possible but not encouraged.

Click here to visit our private lesson page and learn more about tuition, registration, and the honors program.

Musicianship Group Classes

Musicianship classes are designed to supplement weekly private instruction on an instrument or voice.
Musicianship classes are designed to supplement weekly private instruction on an instrument or voice.

Musicianship classes allow students to build skills and gain knowledge relating to music theory, ear training, and music history. These engaging classes are filled with opportunities for listening, discussion, and active participation. Students will apply concepts through performance, analysis, and composition. Both in-class and at-home activities will help students master the covered material and grow as musicians. 

For the 2020-21 academic year, all in-person classes will be conducted remotely until the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided enough to resume face-to-face instruction. These classes will meet at the scheduled times listed below via Zoom. Registered students will receive more information the week prior to the start of classes.

Music Theory and Ear Training Fundamentals I

This introductory class helps students become proficient in the fundamentals of music literacy. Students will improve their note-reading in treble and bass clefs, as well as rhythm reading in simple and compound meters. They also will learn major scales and key signatures, minor scales and key signatures, and intervals.

The Online Fundamentals 1 class is open to all ages, and students can join at any time during the year. This class is conducted asynchronously through Google Classroom, so students can work through the material at their own pace.

No placement assignment is required to join Music Theory and Ear Training Fundamentals I.

Music Theory and Ear Training Fundamentals II

This class builds on the topics covered in Music Theory and Ear Training Fundamentals I. It is designed for students who can: 

  • Fluently read notes in both treble and bass clef
  • Fluently count rhythms in simple and compound meter
  • Build and identify major and minor scales and key signatures
  • Demonstrate proficiency with basic aural skills 

Students in this class will further develop their skills in those areas, while also gaining proficiency with tonal harmony. Topics will include intervals, triads, seventh chords, diatonic chords, analysis of diatonic harmony, and basic formal analysis. Singing with solfege, musical dictation, and other ear training skills also will be covered.

Students interested in moving into this class must complete a placement assignment.

Advanced Music Theory and Ear Training

Grades 7–Adult
Saturdays, 1:45–2:35 p.m.

This class builds on the topics covered in Fundamentals I and II. It is designed for students who can:

  • build and identify intervals, triads, and seventh chords
  • complete tonal harmonic analysis
  • complete basic formal analysis
  • demonstrate proficiency with selected aural skills

Students in this class will further develop their skills in those areas, while also exploring more advanced topics. The class content rotates each year, so that students may repeat the class as desired. 

Past themes have included “Counterpoint” (2019-20) and “Historical Styles from the Middle Ages to Today” (2018-19).

The theme for 2020-21 is “Analyzing to Interpret.” Students will practice analyzing repertoire they are learning in private lessons and/or ensembles. They will then apply the insights gained through analysis to deepen their own interpretation of the music as soloists, ensemble members, and conductors. We will review and build on techniques for analyzing melody, harmony, form, and other elements of music introduced in the previous levels of musicianship. We will also explore new techniques focusing on score analysis and analysis of recorded performances. Additionally, students will continue to develop their ear-training and related skills to facilitate analyzing and performing their solo and ensemble repertoire. 

Students interested in moving into this class must complete a placement assignment.

Tuition and Registration

All students (both new and returning) must complete a placement assignment if they would like to join Fundamentals II or Advanced Theory and Ear Training. No placement assignment is required to join Fundamentals I. Contact Dr. Rudman at for more information about placement. Students may join the online Fundamentals class at any time.

Registration Deadline:

November 2

Classes begin November 7

Classes and Tuition

Class Day and Time Tuition for HCD Private Lesson Students Tuition for All Others
Fundamentals I (Online, Asynchronous) - Free Free
Fundamentals I (Remote, Real Time) Saturdays, 12:45–1:35 p.m. $200 $475
Fundamentals I (Remote, Real Time) Tuesdays, 4:00–4:50 p.m. $200 $475
Fundamentals II (Remote, Real-Time) Saturdays, 1:45–2:35 p.m. $200 $475
Advanced (Remote, Real-Time) Saturdays, 2:45-3:35 p.m. $200 $475

Young Composers Project

When students deepen their understanding of music, they grow as listeners.
When students deepen their understanding of music, they grow as listeners.

The Young Composers Project (YCP) inspires students to express themselves creatively in music. This unique program is designed for students of all experience levels, and will provide each student with the skills necessary to develop their own voice as a composer. The course of study found in YCP not only helps prepare students for future compositional work (such as collegiate study or a career in composition), it also deepens their understanding of music.

Click here to learn about YCP Summer Edition.

Program Highlights

YCP participants work with a faculty composer in one-hour classes from November to May. The small class size fosters a collaborative environment and allows students to spend a considerable amount of time on personal projects. Class time is typically divided between instruction on various compositional techniques and group discussion of the students' in-progress pieces.

In addition to the regular class meetings, YCP also includes a number of special activities for the students. In the past, these have included master classes with visiting composers, behind the scenes visits to rehearsals of local ensembles, and a special reading/recording session in which advanced students performed each others’ works.

Who Can Participate?

YCP is for students in grades 6–12 with an interest in:

  • Learning to express themselves through music
  • Gaining a deeper understanding of how music works
  • Sharing their music with other students
  • Studying with active and enthusiastic mentor composers
  • Working with professional musicians
  • Hearing their music realized in live performance

Students of all levels are welcome. Previous composition experience is not required, though students should be comfortable reading music. Intermediate/advanced students are welcome in YCP, and/or are encouraged to consider private composition lessons.

Schedule and Tuition

Classes will be scheduled based on student availability. Students will indicate their availability when registering, and they will be placed into an appropriate class. They will be notified of their placement the week after the registration deadline, and classes will start in November.

We will make every effort to place all interested students into an appropriate class. Sections must meet enrollment minimums to run. If we are not able to place a student because of scheduling, we will contact the family as soon as possible.  

If you are interested in joining after the registration deadline, please contact Dr. Rudman at for more information. 



Registration deadline

November 2
Classes will start mid-November

Performer Residency

Hearing one’s music realized by live performers is essential to growing as a composer, so HCS brings in professional performers to work with the students. YCP participants will have the opportunity to participate in reading sessions with musicians during the fall and winter, and those performers will be available to perform students’ compositions at our annual final concert in May. Students receive recordings of all reading sessions and the final concert for their own personal use. 

For 2020-21, all workshops will be conducted remotely. The final concert be also be virtual and will feature pre-made recordings of the students’ pieces. All works written as part of the performer residency will be for solo musicians because of constraints of physical distancing.


Participants will use relevant music software to communicate their ideas.  Access to a computer to complete work outside of class is required. If you would like recommendations on software (including free options for those starting out) or have questions about the use of technology in this program, please contact Dr. Rudman at

Student Examples


Aiden Caron - Somewhere Between Home and the Heavens 

Helkin F. Sosa - La Conquista - I. Hernán Cortés

Benjamin Rickevicius- A Duet for Two Guitars 


Conducting Basics

The covered topics will enhance the students' performance in both ensembles and private lessons.
The covered topics will enhance the students' performance in both ensembles and private lessons.

Conducting Basics introduces students to the fundamentals of conducting. Topics include conducting technique, score reading, and musical interpretation. This course is offered periodically based on student interest. Please contact Dr. Rudman at to be placed on our interest list.


Students must be in grades 9 through 12 with a minimum of 3 years of musical study on their instrument of choice. They must read music, and have a solid understanding of time and key signatures. This course is open to all instrumentalists as well as vocal students.


Please call the main office at 860.768.4451 or e-mail us at

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