Carnegie Mellon University

School of Music

Where artistry and innovation share center stage

Program Descriptions

Students in the Pre-College Music Program choose to major in one of four areas.

In addition to these majors, CMU Pre-College Music offers courses in jazz studies open to any student. 

Areas of Study:

Students in the instrumental program participate in many enriching musical opportunities, including:

  1. Millennium Symphony Orchestra (MSO)
    1. Under the direction of Resident Conductor Daniel Nesta Curtis, this symphony orchestra gives students the opportunity to develop orchestral playing skills. The orchestra rehearses major works and performs during Concert Week. Placement is by audition for winds, brass, strings, and percussion. For more information about the MSO, click here.

  2. Private lessons and coachings
    1. Students receive one, one-hour lesson each week from CMU Pre-College Music instrumental faculty, specifically in preparation for college auditions. Weekly clinics include a mixture of master classes, literature/repertoire discussion, and instrument-specific ensemble playing.

  3. “Mastering the Art of the Audition”
    1. Weekly seminars with Maestro Curtis focused on preparing audition material and honing audition skills. Topics include how to make a prescreening video, how to prepare excerpts and nominated master class participation. ​

  4. Elective conducting studies​​
    1. Students may enroll in private conducting training to develop as a conductor and to establish leadership skills. Participants will have the opportunity to gain podium experience through conducting instrumental ensembles of program colleagues. For information about becoming a Conducting Scholar, click here.

  5. Chamber Music
    1. Students work with internationally acclaimed collaborative pianist and chamber music expert Luz Manriquez in preparation for performance. For information about scholarship opportunities for fully-formed chamber groups, click here.

  6. CMU Music Pre-College courses
    1. Students participate in the regular music course load of a first semester college student with courses that include music theory, solfѐge, and Dalcroze eurhythmics. Electives are available in minor studios, music technology, jazz studies, recording techniques, and more.

  7. Master classes and concerts
    1. Students perform on several concerts culminating in Concert Week, which includes festival-style performances of chamber music, opera scenes, choir, jazz ensembles, and more.

    2. Pittsburgh has a rich cultural life during the summer, and students are encouraged to attend the many performances happening throughout the city. In addition, Pre-College Music hosts professional concerts every week, free for all students. Participants may also observe rehearsals and attend performances by world-renowned Pittsburgh ensembles, such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, or the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble.​​​

Students may major in bagpipe, bassoon, cello, clarinet, double bass, euphonium, flute, guitar, harp, horn, oboe, percussion, piano, organ, saxophone, trombone, trumpet, tuba, viola, or violin.

Students in the voice program participate in many enriching musical opportunities, including:

  1. Private lessons and coachings

    • Students receive one, one-hour lesson each week (with professional accompanist) and an additional half-hour private vocal coaching session. Lessons focus on technique and the preparation and presentation of classical repertoire, specifically in preparation for college auditions. A weekly voice class provides group coaching and recital practice.

  2. Student performance opportunities

    • All voice students participate in a choir that gives members the opportunity to develop choral ensemble skills through the rehearsal and performance of classical, sacred, and standard repertoire. Also during Concert Week, students have the opportunity to perform in solo recital with a professional accompanist.

    • Students may join the Jazz Choir, which focuses on jazz standards in a variety of styles and performs during the program with the Jazz Ensemble.

  3. Opera workshop

    • This course serves to put the skills gleaned in studio lessons and acting classes  to practice in the performance of scenes from selected operas. The work culminates in a final performance during Concert Week.

  4. CMU Music Pre-College courses

    1. Students participate in the regular music course load of a first semester college student with courses that include music theory, solfѐge, and Dalcroze eurhythmics. Electives are available in minor studios, music technology, jazz studies, recording techniques, and more.
  1. Master classes and concerts

    • Students perform on several concerts culminating in Concert Week, which includes festival-style performances of chamber music, opera scenes, choir, jazz ensembles, and more.

    • Pittsburgh has a rich cultural life during the summer, and students are encouraged to attend the many performances happening throughout the city. In addition, Pre-College Music hosts professional concerts every week, free for all students. Participants may also observe rehearsals and attend performances by world-renowned Pittsburgh ensembles, such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, or the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble.

Students in the voice program participate in many enriching musical opportunities, including:

  1. Private lessons and coachings

    • Students receive one, one-hour lesson each week (with professional accompanist) and an additional half-hour private vocal coaching session. Lessons focus on technique and the preparation and presentation of classical repertoire, specifically in preparation for college auditions. A weekly voice class provides group coaching and recital practice.

  2. Student performance opportunities

    • All voice students participate in a choir that gives members the opportunity to develop choral ensemble skills through the rehearsal and performance of classical, sacred, and standard repertoire. Also during Concert Week, students have the opportunity to perform in solo recital with a professional accompanist.

    • Students may join the Jazz Choir, which focuses on jazz standards in a variety of styles and performs during the program with the Jazz Ensemble.

  3. Opera workshop

    • This course serves to put the skills gleaned in studio lessons and acting classes  to practice in the performance of scenes from selected operas. The work culminates in a final performance during Concert Week.

  4. CMU Music Pre-College courses

    1. Students participate in the regular music course load of a first semester college student with courses that include music theory, solfѐge, and Dalcroze eurhythmics. Electives are available in minor studios, music technology, jazz studies, recording techniques, and more.
  1. Master classes and concerts

    • Students perform on several concerts culminating in Concert Week, which includes festival-style performances of chamber music, opera scenes, choir, jazz ensembles, and more.

    • Pittsburgh has a rich cultural life during the summer, and students are encouraged to attend the many performances happening throughout the city. In addition, Pre-College Music hosts professional concerts every week, free for all students. Participants may also observe rehearsals and attend performances by world-renowned Pittsburgh ensembles, such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, or the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble.

Students in the music technology program participate in many enriching musical opportunities, including:

  1. Private training

    • Students receive one, one-hour training each week with CMU Pre-College Music recording technology faculty and study the use of computers for analyzing and creating music in the Music Technology Lab. Students work in a private studio setting to develop the skills needed to be a successful studio engineer. They learn the basics of Pro Tools as well as how to use industry standard Waves Audio plugins necessary for post production.

  2. Elective instrumental ensembles

    • Music tech students may audition for any summer instrumental ensemble to develop collaborative playing. Ensembles include the Millennium Symphony Orchestra, the Summer Wind Ensemble, the Jazz Ensemble, and others.

  3. CMU Music Pre-College courses

    • Students participate in the regular music course load of a first semester college student with courses that include music theory, solfѐge, and Dalcroze eurhythmics. Electives are available in minor studios, jazz studies, recording techniques, and more.

  4. Performances

    • Students perform on several concerts culminating in Concert Week, which includes festival-style performances of chamber music, opera scenes, choir, jazz ensembles, and more.

    • Pittsburgh has a rich cultural life during the summer, and students are encouraged to attend the many performances happening throughout the city. In addition, Pre-College Music hosts professional concerts every week, free for all students. Participants may also observe rehearsals and attend performances by world-renowned Pittsburgh ensembles, such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, or the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble.

Students interested in jazz studies are encouraged to participate in the many Pre-College jazz opportunities, including:

  1. Jazz Ensemble

    • Students in the jazz program participate in the Jazz Ensemble, lead by Grammy-award-winning saxophonist Eric DeFade. The ensemble focuses on jazz standards in a variety of styles and performs several times during the program.

  2. Jazz Clinic/Combos

    • Mr. DeFade coaches student jazz combos and leads a course in jazz improvisation. Weekly clinics include a mixture of master classes, literature/repertoire discussion, and instrument-specific ensemble playing. For information about scholarship opportunities for fully-formed jazz combos, click here.

  3. Jazz Choir

    • The Jazz Choir explores jazz vocal techniques and styles, and performs with the Jazz Ensemble during the program.

Summer Performance Ensembles:

Millennium Symphony Orchestra
Brass Ensemble
Chamber Music
Concert Choir
Guitar Ensemble
Improvisation Ensemble
Jazz Choir
Jazz Ensemble
Orchestra
Percussion Ensemble
String Ensemble
Wind Ensemble
Woodwind Ensemble