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Idyllwild Arts Academy’s Music Department inspires, educates, develops, and refines young musicians from around the globe, drawing on the talent, wealth of knowledge, and professional experience of our world-renowned faculty. We are committed to instilling the highest standards of musical excellence and nurturing individual, artistic sensibility in every student. All of our students receive a core curriculum of private lessons, ensembles, Theory, History, and Music Technology, as well as a specialized curriculum within their own program. They are also permitted and encouraged to choose from multiple electives, thus customizing their musical training, crafting a course sequence which is both rigorously comprehensive and expressive of individual student interests.

It is our fundamental belief that music is essential to the successful evolution of human civilizations and a transcendental asset for cultural expression. With our tireless dedication to this core value, we aspire to ensure for music a central place in contemporary society through preparing our students for lives that strengthen the public good.

  • Frequent performances on and off campus
  • Masterclasses
  • Working with prominent composers when they premiere their works at Idyllwild Arts
  • Being featured in performances on NPR’s From the Top
  • Competitions and festivals
  • Interdepartmental collaborations
Students at the Idyllwild Arts Academy’s Music Department
Academy Courses
  • Applied Music for Songwriting
  • Chamber Music
  • Collaborative Piano
  • Computer Music Notation
  • Electronics for Musicians
  • Electronic Sound
  • Jazz Ensemble
  • Jazz History
  • Jazz Improvisation
  • Jazz Theory
  • MIDI Sequencing
  • Music Business & Marketing
  • Music Theory & Musicianship
  • Opera Scenes
  • Orchestra
  • Performance Classes
  • Private Lessons
  • Popular Music History
  • Recording & Production
  • Songwriting 
  • Topline
  • Vocal Ensemble
  • Vocal Repertoire
  • Vocal Styles
  • Western Art Music History
Fall & Spring Auxiliary Programs
Guest Teachers of Masterclasses Have Included
  • Blair String Quartet
  • Calder String Quartet
  • Chatham Baroque
  • Cypress String Quartet
  • Ethel String Quartet
  • Juilliard String Quartet
  • Kronos Quartet
  • Miró Quartet
  • St. Petersburg String Quartet
  • Tokyo String Quartet
  • Jung-Ho Pak, conductor
  • Christopher Parkening, classical guitar
  • Martin Chalifour, violin
  • Midori, violin
  • Hilary Hahn, violin
  • Lewis Kaplan, violin
  • Mark Kaplan, violin
  • Joan Kwuon, violin
  • Movses Pogossian, violin
  • Sergio Schwartz, violin
  • Kurt Sassmannshaus, violin
  • Ian Swensen, violin
  • Angel Valchinov, violin
  • Linda Wang, violin
  • Ivan Zenaty, violin
  • Almita and Roland Vamos, viola and violin
  • Carrie Dennis, viola
  • Roger Myers, viola
  • Paul Neubauer, viola
  • Matt Haimovitz, cello
  • Barry Green, double bass
  • Sara Davis Buechner, piano
  • Byron Janis, piano
  • Norman Krieger, piano
  • Anne-Marie McDermott, piano
  • John Perry, piano
  • Thomas Rosenkranz, piano
  • Sandra Shapiro, piano
  • Nelita True, piano
  • David Shifrin, clarinet
  • Liang Wang, oboe
  • Robert van Sice, percussion and marimba
  • Tony Arnold, soprano
  • Marni Nixon, voice-over soprano for My Fair Lady, The King and I, and West Side Story
  • Simeon Simeonov, tenor
  • David Zippel, lyricist
  • Najite Agindotan, Nigerian percussionist
  • Jimmy and Jeannie Cheatham, jazz masters with the Sweet Baby Blues Band
  • Sara Gazarek, jazz singer
  • Cathy Segal-Garcia, jazz singer
  • Sean Longstreet, jazz guitarist
  • Tamir Hendelman, jazz pianist
  • Vijay Iyer, jazz pianist
  • Harry Pickens, jazz pianist
  • Joshua White, jazz pianist
  • Josh Nelson, jazz pianist and composer
  • Joey Sellers, jazz composer and trombonist
  • Matt Zebley, jazz composer and multi-instrumentalist
  • Rufus Reid, jazz standup bass
  • Kendall Kay, jazz drummer
  • Pam Sheyne, Platinum record-winning songwriter
  • Kamille Rudisill, singer/songwriter
  • Jonah Tolchin, singer/songwriter
College Matriculation
  • Bard College Conservatory of Music
  • Belmont University School of Music
  • Berklee College of Music
  • Boston Conservatory
  • Brown University
  • CalArts
  • Cal State Northridge
  • California Lutheran University
  • Cleveland Institute of Music
  • Columbia College Chicago
  • DePaul University
  • Eastman School of Music
  • The Juilliard School
  • Lawrence University
  • Loyola University New Orleans
  • Manhattan School of Music
  • Musicians Institute
  • New England Conservatory
  • San Francisco Conservatory
  • Southern Methodist University
  • Meadows School of the Arts
  • Swarthmore College
  • Temple University
  • The New School for Jazz
  • University of the Arts
  • University of Miami Frost School of Music
  • University of Michigan
  • USC Thornton School of Music
  • Yale
of our students who apply are accepted.

Classical Instruments

Giving individual attention to artistic growth is a promise that our Classical Instrumental program takes seriously. Southern California’s dynamic music scene gives instrumentalists access to private lessons with outstanding professionals. Passionate teaching and frequent performances allow our students to become the musicians they dream of being. With a focus on private lessons, chamber music, and orchestral repertoire, our program provides students with the skills and training needed to enter the most demanding conservatory, college, and university programs. We bring guest artists and teachers from around the world for masterclasses and concerts each year, enriching our students’ musical experiences far beyond what most students are offered in high school. Our private teachers possess backgrounds of rigorous training and vast global experience. They are teaching artists who are active solo, chamber, and orchestral musicians, passing down centuries of rich artistic tradition and inspiration.

We are most fortunate to have Gregory Robbins conducting our international Academy and Summer orchestras. Robbins is a member of our full-time teaching faculty for the Academy, and the Director of Summer and Auxiliary Orchestral Programs. One of our newest faculty members, Robbins is a talented Classical bassist and pianist who has a diverse international professional background conducting youth orchestras, and who pairs his high standards for our students with plenty of scholarly humor. Our orchestral standard for excellence has been recognized through performing world premieres by an honor roll of distinguished composers, including Maria Newman, Richard Danielpour, Ezra Laderman, Bruce Adolphe, and John Cage, as well as invitations for summer performances at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Gifted conductors like Leonard Slatkin, Jorge Mester, Ransom Wilson, and Peter Askim have also guided our orchestral students.

Classical Instrumentalists at Idyllwild Arts are immersed in an environment brimming with talent,
dedication, and original ideas. Students take a core curriculum in Theory, History, Music Technology, Orchestra, Chamber Music, and private lessons with our world-class faculty. They have opportunities to collaborate with fellow students and to receive specialized training in collaborating with student pianists. Many of them perform with our Songwriting and Jazz students. Classical Instrumentalists have the option to add private lessons in a secondary area, such as improvisation or composition, with instructor and Chair approval. Classical Instrumentalists are also invited to participate in our annual Concerto Competition. Concerto Competition winners perform with our Academy Orchestra. Juniors and Seniors present their own recitals.

Classical Piano

Our extraordinary Classical Piano program offers study with Dr. Douglas Ashcraft and Dr. Jeanette Louise Yaryan. Both are active performers with vast, diverse, international backgrounds as teaching artists. Students learn a repertoire that extends from the Baroque through the Contemporary period and are taught stylistic practices such as period-specific ornamentation and improvisation. Through training that is both rigorous and nurturing, our Classical Piano students and faculty become like a family.

Our selective program allows for extremely close, individualized instruction with faculty. Classical Piano students study a core curriculum of Theory, History, and Music Technology, in addition to specific requirements for Classical Pianists, with multiple options for electives as well. Each student is assigned a primary teacher, but also receives coaching and feedback from the other piano faculty member. Idyllwild Arts Classical Piano majors receive weekly private lessons in their Classical repertoire. They are assigned Classical Vocal and Classical Instrumental partners and receive individual and group coaching on their collaborative repertoire. They have many opportunities to perform throughout the year. These include performing in our Music Department Showcase concerts, Chamber Music recitals, recitals by fellow students, and our department’s PianoFest, a celebrated school tradition. Students also have opportunities to play with choir and Musical Theatre students and to take part in multidisciplinary projects.

We encourage and prepare our students for competitions and festivals throughout the United States and abroad. Many of our students have won the Academy Concerto Competition, awarding them the opportunity to perform with our orchestra. Over the years, many guest artists have visited campus to perform and give masterclasses. These have included faculty from the Cleveland Institute of Music, University of Southern California, Indiana University, Oberlin Conservatory, North Carolina School of the Arts, the Eastman School of Music, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, the University of Melbourne, and the Colburn Conservatory.

This comprehensive and cohesive pre-collegiate training sets our program apart from other performing arts schools. Our students have continued their studies at the world’s finest institutions, including the Juilliard School, the Eastman School of Music, the Colburn Conservatory, the New England Conservatory, Oberlin Conservatory, The Cleveland Institute of Music, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the Peabody Institute, the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Swarthmore College, and Yale University. Alumni of our piano program currently enjoy a broad range of international performing and teaching careers.

Marshall Hawkins

The rich history of Jazz comes alive at Idyllwild Arts through the founder of the school’s Jazz program, bass legend Marshall Hawkins, who toured with Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock half a century ago. Hawkins teaches several courses, as well as private lessons. Because Jazz is the love of his life, Hawkins frequently performs at music venues in the town of Idyllwild, often with fellow faculty member and saxophonist Paul Carman, who teaches many courses in our Jazz program and leads our Jazz combos. Jazz pianist and drummer Clayton E. Powell, Jr., teaches our rhythm section students, and private lessons for both Jazz and Songwriting. Our Jazz program welcomes masterclass and guest artists every year.

The Jazz program prepares Jazz Instrumental students as both performers and arrangers. Performance opportunities on campus are numerous with our Jazz Combos and Jazz Ensemble, as are opportunities off campus. Our program is steeped in both traditional and progressive Jazz studies of improvisation, rhythm section skills, and technique, allowing for a specialized education in both solo and ensemble playing. Our award-winning combos perform at festivals, including the Berklee and Reno Jazz Festivals. The curriculum includes private lessons, Jazz Theory, Jazz History, Improvisation, and Computer Music Applications. Every Jazz student receives weekly private instruction on their main instrument and a weekly combo lesson. The program also offers rhythm section classes for piano, guitar, bass, and drums. Jazz students can choose from numerous electives. Juniors and seniors must present their own recitals. Our Jazz students may also play in our Academy Orchestra and compete in our Concerto Competition, with instructor and Chair approval.

Our Songwriting program was the first of its kind in the United States. Songwriting faculty member and virtuoso guitarist Don Reed teaches many courses, as well as private lessons. He often performs in the town of Idyllwild and throughout Southern California. With lead Music Technology faculty member Michael Quick teaching with Reed in several classes, our program offers songwriters an intensive curriculum in the genres of popular music, music business, and music production. Our students hone their skills in lyric, melodic, and harmonic writing and gain an understanding of basic music industry, marketing, music business, and music production skills, including live sound and music recording. Our students develop their own style while being exposed to many styles and genres.

Songwriting majors take classes in creative writing, lyrics and melody, musical arrangement and performance, Music Theory, Music Business and Marketing, Popular Music History, Recording and Production, as well as private instruction in piano or guitar. They can add other private lessons, such as voice or drums, with instructor and Chair approval. Masterclasses and workshops taught by seasoned music professionals are integral to the curriculum. The Songwriting program presents four performances a year, and Juniors and Seniors must present solo shows.

Our Voice program promotes versatile and healthy singing by offering fundamental training in the Classical style. Led by Los Angeles Opera vocalist Lori Stinson, our Academy Voice students receive private Classical Voice lessons. Juniors, seniors, and post-grads may receive private lessons in additional styles, with instructor and Chair approval. Voice students of any grade may also take a private lesson in a secondary area such as composition or an instrument, with instructor and Chair approval.

Idyllwild Arts Academy Voice majors also take the core curriculum of Theory, History, Music Technology, and piano proficiency with their fellow Music majors, with multiple options for electives. They study many vocal styles in the classroom and receive training in vocal ensembles, theatre, vocal diction, and collaboration with student pianists. They have opportunities to collaborate with Classical, Jazz, and Songwriting students. Juniors and Seniors must present solo recitals. Vocalists develop into well-rounded musicians while exploring a variety of career options.

Audition Requirements

We encourage candidates for the Music major to send an online submission containing the specific requirements below. YouTube links are highly preferable whenever able. Live, on-campus auditions are possible, subject to departmental availability.

Classical Piano:

Three prepared pieces representing contrasting styles from the standard repertoire.

Classical Instruments:

2-3 prepared pieces representing contrasting styles. For auditions on campus, you may choose to bring your own pianist, but it is not required. Please note a pianist will not be provided for auditions.


2-3 original songs with words in English and 1 cover song (performed instrumentally and sung to show arranging/interpreting skills). Lyrics should be included with audition submissions.

Jazz Instruments:

For auditions we are interested in seeing the applicant’s level of accomplishment and musical knowledge. We require three prepared pieces. Backing track or rhythm section welcome, but not required: 

  • Blues
  • Jazz Standard
  • Great American Songbook Standard

Also, applicants are asked to demonstrate knowledge of scales, inversions, and chords, and invited to demonstrate their current improvisational ability. Live auditions possible with departmental availability, though a backing track/rhythm section will not be provided. Please direct any questions about repertoire to Admissions.


Prepare two selections. The first must be one art song or aria from the Classical repertoire list below, illustrating the student’s range:

  • A selection from the book “24 Italian Songs and Arias”
  • A selection from the “First Book of Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone/Bass”
  • Händel
  • Mozart
  • Schubert

The second selection may be your choice of repertoire from Classical, Jazz, Musical Theatre, or Traditional Folk Song. We prefer a piece that is not in the contemporary popular genre. The audition video must include the piano part, and/or a backing track. Students wishing to audition on campus may bring their own pianist and/or backing track. We do not provide pianists for live auditions.

For specific questions regarding Music please contact:
Dominique Trammell
at 951.659.2171 x2347


All Idyllwild Arts Academy Music Department teachers are, or have been, performing and recording professionals. Extensive and deep knowledge of individual and ensemble performance, and of every other skill needed for success in the music industry is taught by a faculty of artists whose credentials include doctoral degrees in music, countless years of performing on stage and for film soundtracks, winning medals in international piano and violin competitions, and sharing the stage with legends like Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis, Ray Charles, Roberta Flack, Frank Zappa, and Herbie Hancock.

Learn More…

Featured Alumni

Evan Christopher ‘87
Jazz clarinetist

Jason Jackson ‘89
Trombonist for Vanguard Jazz Orchestra

Sydney Guo ‘89
Noted vascular surgeon with offices in four California cities

Vesselin Gellev ‘95
First Violin for London Philharmonic Orchestra

David Chang ‘95
Clarinet for Pacific Symphony

Claire Chase ‘96
2012 MacArthur Fellow, Cofounder of International Contemporary Ensemble

Michael Emanovsky ‘97
Associate Principal Horn for Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra

Andy Fraga, Jr. ‘97
Jazz percussionist

Orpheo McCord ‘98
Composer and percussionist, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Llinos Richards ‘99
Cellist for Siren Electric String Quartet

Liang Wang ‘99
Principal Oboe for New York Philharmonic

Bei Zhu DeGaulle ‘99
Violin and Third Associate Concertmaster for Hong Kong Philharmonic

Dobrina Dobreva ‘02
Violinist, now an immigration lawyer

Chia-Ling Chen ‘02
Associate Principal Cello for San Diego Symphony

Andy Lin ‘02
Violist and Founder of New Asia Chamber Music Society

Adam Glick ‘02
Senior Development Officer for the Brooklyn Museum

Todor Popstoyanov ‘03
French Horn for Hong Kong Philharmonic

Graham Dechter ‘04
Jazz guitarist and recording artist

Gunvor Sihm ‘04
Violinist for Nightingale String Quartet

Mike Barnett ‘05
Composer and pianist

Trevor Hall ‘05
Guitarist and recording singer/songwriter

Yao Guang Zhai ‘05
Principal Clarinet for Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Delcho Tenev ‘05
Violin for Colorado Symphony

Kolio Plachkov ‘06
Third Associate Principal Horn for Colorado Symphony

Maron Khoury ‘07
Second Flute for Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

Lin Ma ‘07
Associate Principal Clarinet for Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Casey Abrams ‘09
Multi-instrumentalist and recording artist

Nora Germain ‘09
Jazz violinist

Leah Hausmann ‘10
Violinist for Amatis Piano Trio

Shih-Po Cheng ‘10
Co-founder of Avenue Music and Education School, Taiwan

Jacob Scesney ‘11
Jazz saxophonist

Learn More About Idyllwild Arts Alumni…

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