Arts Academy Boarding School: Music Composition Major

The composition curriculum at Interlochen is excellent preparation for those who wish to major in composition in college.  The individualized program encourages students to cultivate their own unique and creative expression, while becoming familiar with important trends in 20th and 21st century music.

Composers have the opportunity to present their works 4-5 times during the school year in Composers' Forums. In addition to the creation of individual pieces, emphasis is also given to knowledge of proper notation, professional preparation of scores and parts for rehearsals and performances, and the assembling of a diverse portfolio for college auditions. Composers in grades 10-PG enroll in the theory class appropriate to their level (Theory A, B, C, D, Advanced, Super or an Independent Study level that goes beyond the Super level of theory) and Musicianship Skills 1 or 2. Composers are also expected to be proficient on the piano; those lacking sufficient keyboard skills are required to take lessons or piano class. Others will take a weekly thirty minute lesson on their primary instrument. Students are required to be in a performing ensemble that is approved by the faculty. It is recommended that students reserve a large block of time (three hours or more) several times each week for individual composition. 

College Matriculation

An Academy education provides excellent preparation for continued studies at top universities and conservatories. Academy music composition students regularly enroll in top music programs including:

  • Bowling Green State University
  • Capital University
  • Carnegie-Melon University
  • Curtis Institute of Music
  • Eastman School of Music
  • Illinois Wesleyan
  • The Juilliard School
  • Manhattan School of Music
  • Mannes College of Music
  • The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music
  • New York University
  • Oberlin Conservatory
  • The Peabody Institute
  • Rice University
  • San Francisco Conservatory
  • Temple University
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Missouri - Kansas City
  • University of North Texas
  • University of Rochester
  • Yale University

Core Curriculum

Core Curriculum 






Fall & Spring

9 - PG

Private Lesson



Fall & Spring

9 - PG

Piano or Instrument Lesson (by audition)


Class Piano


Fall & Spring

10, 11, 12, PG

Music Theory


Fall & Spring

9 - PG

Musicianship Skills


Fall & Spring

9 - PG



Fall & Spring

9 - PG

Performing Ensemble*

*Faculty approval required


For information on graduation requirements and academic curriculum, please visit Academy Academics.


Dr. Cynthia Van Maanen

Instructor of Music Composition and Music Theory, Interlochen Arts Academy

D.M.A., Composition, Music Theory Minor, Moores School of Music, University of Houston; M.M., Composition, Shepherd School of Music, Rice University; B.M., Composition, Flute Performance, Baylor University; Performers Certificate, Scoring for Film and Television, University of Southern California