The Music Department curriculum is firmly rooted in the traditions of classical music and jazz, and is comprised of high-level private study, academic music courses, chamber and jazz ensembles, music composition, and performances.
Private Lessons: The focus of the music department curriculum is private instruction with Academy Faculty. Each student has two weekly 45-minute private lessons on his or her principal instrument in both classical and jazz instruction. These prepare students for performances, competitions, juries, a senior recital, and ultimately, college auditions.
Studio: Studio is another central aspect of the department. Students perform repertoire from private lessons & ensembles in Studio, and are given feedback from Academy Faculty.
Music Classes: The Music Department classes consist of a combination of requirements and electives. These courses include Music Theory, Ear Training, Piano Lab, Composition, Film Scoring, Music History, Jazz Combo, Chamber Ensemble, Jazz Vocal Workshop and Classical Vocal Workshop. The curriculum is designed so that as students progress into their Junior and Senior years, they have more control over their afternoon schedule, upon completing the requirements.
Ensembles: All Academy students are placed in ensembles such as Jazz Combo, Classical Vocal Ensemble and Chamber Ensemble. These groups participate in Academy recitals and concerts. Chamber performance ensemble focuses on developing individual musicianship through a small group setting. Students will work on specific repertoire with an ensemble coach while developing note reading skills, intonation, rhythm, articulation, dynamics, and balance. Ensembles will study individual and group practice and rehearsal techniques, interpretive and stylistic decisions as an ensemble, and performance skills.
Senior Recitals: Each student performs a Senior Recital as part of the Music Department graduation requirements. This is a 40 to 60-minute performance showcasing the skills and repertoire they have developed through private lessons, classes, and ensemble study. The performance should demonstrate the depth of their technical proficiency, style, interpretation and overall musicianship and professionalism. The recital serves as a senior project, and is essentially an independent study overseen by the Department Chair.
Student Performances: Our Concert Series includes Classical Recitals, Jazz Concerts, The Opera, and a number of other specialty events. Last year, in addition to in-house performances, Academy Music students performed at the legendary Jazz Showcase, The Museum of Contemporary Art, A Red Orchid Theatre and Curtiss Hall, and had the honor of performing alongside Grammy Award-Winning ensemble Eight Blackbird, world-renowned saxophonist Seamus Blake, and The Chicago Symphony Orchesta.
Lecture Series: Each year, the music department hosts a number of performances and lectures by world-renowned performers, educators, composers, and music industry professionals. In the past couple of years, Academy Music students have experienced master classes with Yo-Yo Ma and Renee Fleming, among others.
Juries: At the end of each semester, students are required to perform a Jury for a panel of Music Faculty. This should reflect work done in their private lessons at The Academy. Juries are meant to replicate college auditions.
Chamber performance ensemble focuses on developing individual musicianship through a small group setting. Students will work on specific repertoire with an ensemble coach while developing note reading skills, intonation, rhythm, articulation, dynamics, and balance. Ensembles will study individual and group practice and rehearsal techniques, interpretive and stylistic decisions as an ensemble, and performance skills.
This class provides an introduction to music theory and ear training covering topics such intervals, scales, key signatures, and harmony. Students work on notation as well as sight singing and aural identification.
This is an intensive, second class in the series of music theory and ear training covering topics such as intervals, scales, key signatures and harmony. Students work on notation and analysis as well as sight-singing and aural identification.
This course offers an intensive study of a range of advanced topics in music theory including tone rows, transcription and analysis, and harmonic function. It is the third and fourth year in the series.
This course offers a hands-on application of a variety of composition techniques using notation software. This is an elective course that can be taken once a student has passed Theory/Ear Training I.
Jazz Combo is a performance ensemble designed to use standard repertoire from the jazz tradition to practice concepts related to improvisation, with a focus on developing individual musicianship through a small group setting. Students build a repertoire of standard songs while working on group balance, jazz theory concepts, melodic and harmonic performance practices, and improvisation. Students are placed in ensembles based on auditions.
The Jazz Vocal Workshop is an intimate study of the art of a jazz vocalist focusing on learning jazz standards, improvising, transcribing, arranging, and performing in a unique style. Students will graduate from this course with a deep understanding of the history of jazz voice, with the ability to perform with a jazz band, and with the preparedness to audition for a vocal jazz program at the collegiate level. Upon graduating from the Jazz Vocal Workshop, each student will have: 1) a book of jazz standards in his/her key, as performance-ready charts using Sibelius, along with select lyric sheets (the student must know the composers’ names, along with the origin of the song, if possible); 2) the ability to improvise over the chord changes of a swing tune, a bossa nova and the blues; 3) the ability to perform a selection of songs from his/her book with a rhythm section, acting as a bandleader, completing a jazz set during his/her Senior Recital; 4) a notebook listing the selection of jazz vocalists, composers and recordings studied in the class, including arrangement and performance ideas they acquired, along with historical notes from class presentations and lectures.
Piano Lab I introduces basic piano skills to students with little to no piano experience, focusing on beginner piano pieces, scales, and chords. Piano Lab II furthers the study of the piano, focusing on more intermediate material and basic jazz piano skills. Both levels also incorporate material currently being studied in each student’s Theory and Ear Training classes, applying those topics to the piano. Students will graduate from these courses with the understanding of the piano as an instrument, as a tool to further study music outside of their primary instrument, and with the preparedness to pass a basic piano audition for a music program at the collegiate level.
Studio meets once a week, during which time students perform for their peers and faculty in a masterclass setting. Pieces are workshopped and critiqued with the aim of discussing rehearsal, practice and performance techniques with the entire department.
This two year course is a survey of the genres, styles, famous composers, and their compositions, as seen throughout the development of Western Art Music. Students observe the elements of music over a variety of time periods, from the Medieval period to present day, and contextualize history’s musical achievements as they relate to the historical philosophies and events of their time.
Classical Vocal Workshop is a course designed to explore and implement the tools, resources, and practices of the modern classical vocalist. In this class voice majors study topics such as foreign language diction and enunciation, vocal health and pedagogy, performance practice, the history of opera and oratorio, and the history of art song. Students also prepare and perform vocal solos, small ensemble pieces, class ensemble choral pieces, opera scenes, and a yearly classical vocal recital with themes which have included French, German, Spanish, and English art song.
*Course titles reflect transcripts for the 2017-2018 freshman class.
Senior musician Micah Collier in Chicago Tribune’s Daily Southtown
Music Department teacher Jesse Langen in the St. Cloud Times.
The Meghan Krueger Quintet at the Jazz Showcase on December 10th! Featuring Meghan Krueger, vocals; Preston Perez, saxophone; Micah Collier, bass; Korgan Robb, drums; and Adam Chlebek, piano.
The Village Vanguard from The Academy Music Department, featuring Korgan Robb on drums, Nolan Marchi, guitar; Adam Chlebek, piano; Micah Collier, bass; and Joseph Dockery, guitar. The combo performed "King Henry."
From the 2018 Vocal Jazz Showcase
From the February 2017 Classical Recital.
Mallory Pargulski performs "Concertino in Eb Major" during the Music Department's Classical Recital.
Academy musicians rehearse "King Henry."
Chair - Music Department
Jazz vocalist Rose Colella currently performs regularly at Chicago's top jazz clubs and hotels, including The Jazz Showcase and The Green Mill, alongside the city's finest jazz musicians. Colella received her Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies from Roosevelt University in Chicago and owns the entertainment agency, Lola Bard Productions. She has been teaching jazz voice and piano at The Academy since 2006.
Jesse Langen is a guitarist who specializes in new music. He works with living composers regularly and premieres dozens of pieces every season. Equally comfortable on classical and electric guitar, he seeks to push both the technical boundaries and the conceptual functions of the instrument. He has taught at The Academy since 2002.
Seth woods has a PhD in Performance Research from the University of Huddersfield and began teaching cello at The Academy in 2016.
Rachel Brown is an active chamber musician, soloist, orchestral performer, and educator. After three years as a regular member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, she is now the Associate Principal Second Violin of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra and also performs with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Rockford Symphony Orchestra, and Fort Wayne Philharmonic.
Jon earned his formal music education at the esteemed University of North Texas, where he studied with Lynn Seaton, Stefan Karlsson, and the legendary drummer Ed Soph. An extended workshop at the Banff Centre for the Arts afforded him the opportunity to work alongside Clarence Penn, Dave Douglas, and Jason Moran while developing his unique brand of drumming and composition.
A native of Gadsden , Alabama , Roderick Ferguson holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from Birmingham-Southern College (magna cum laude). Mr. Ferguson later earned a Master of Music Degree from the University of Houston where he studied with world-renowned concert artist Abbey Simon. His studies have also taken him to the Longy School of Music in Cambridge , MA and Northwestern University , where he undertook post-graduate study. He teaches piano at The Academy.
John Sims studied Jazz Performance and Economics at Arizona State University.
Peter Schwendener has been active on the Chicago jazz scene for over three decades. Besides performing, he teaches jazz and classical piano at his studio in Evanston, Illinois.
Doug Rosenberg is a member of the new generation of jazz musicians composing and improvising music for the next century.
The Music Department prepares students with different musical backgrounds for successful college-level music study and professional careers. The music audition is comprised of solo performance, sightreading, and a departmental interview.