Do your feelings, ideas, and inspiration naturally become rhythm, sound, and melody? Musicians at Idyllwild Arts refine their technique with the guidance of our world-renowned faculty, exploring this powerful medium for storytelling and cultural expression. Our pre-professional training curriculum instills the discipline, skills, and confidence that transform raw talent into endless opportunity.

Orchestra students rehearsing outside.

Classical Piano

Our comprehensive and cohesive pre-collegiate training sets our program apart from other performing arts schools, fostering intimate, tailored instruction and empowering students to dive deeper into their practice. Students learn a repertoire that extends from the Baroque through the Contemporary period, including stylistic practices such as period-specific ornamentation and improvisation. Students also benefit from a wide array of specialized electives, individualized coaching, and weekly private lessons. Each piano student partners with Classical Vocal and Classical Instrumental peers, receiving individual and group coaching to perfect their collaborative repertoire. Students also have opportunities to play with choir and Musical Theatre students, and to take part in multidisciplinary projects.

A student playing piano.

Classical Instruments

Classical Instrumentalists at Idyllwild Arts receive a level of pre-professional training and individual attention that is unprecedented in high school, allowing every student to hone all the skills necessary to pursue a career as a professional musician. Chamber groups (which are smaller, more intimate groups of 3+) form the core of our program, delving into traditional, contemporary, and original repertoire compositions for eclectic ensemble configurations.  In addition, our curriculum includes theory, composition, history, and individual performance as well as experiences with conductorless chamber orchestra, symphony orchestra, music technology and creative collaborations with other arts departments, such as film scoring.  

Our artist mentors and faculty have performed professionally with ensembles around the world, and bring their expertise to guide our young artists into one of the many important roles that they will fill when they take their next steps into the music industry.

A classical music trio performing outside.


The Idyllwild Arts Songwriting program was the first of its kind in the United States and we continue to turn out music pioneers, each synthesizing a unique sound from a variety of styles and genres. Our students hone their skills in lyric, melodic, and harmonic writing, and gain an understanding of basic industry, marketing, business, recording, and production skills. Songwriters take classes in creative writing, lyrics and melody, musical arrangement and performance, popular music history, 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.

A student performing for a songwriting concert.


Founded by bass legend Dr. Marshall Hawkins, known for his collaborations with Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, the Idyllwild Arts Jazz program brings the genre’s rich history to life and prepares students as both performers and arrangers. Our program is steeped in both traditional and progressive Jazz studies and includes improvisation, technique, ensemble skills, rhythm section skills, and computer notation, allowing for a specialized education in both solo improvisation and ensemble playing. Electives include recording arts and electronic music. Jazz students also have the option to compete in the annual Idyllwild Arts Concerto Competition.

Jazz students playing saxophone.


With both Classical and Contemporary Voice offerings, the Idyllwild Arts Voice program prepares young vocal artists for the rigors, requirements, and realities of today’s music industry in the studio, on the stage, and at conservatory. Idyllwild Arts vocalists develop into confident, creative musicians with the breadth of experience to pursue a multifaceted career.

Students study many vocal styles in the classroom and receive training in ensembles, theatre, and diction. Contemporary Vocalists focus on jazz and pop techniques, studying Popular Improvisation, and Ear Training, Songwriting and Composition, Jazz and Pop Theory and Harmony, Vocal Performance, and Enterprise and Entrepreneurship.

A voice student performing.
Close up view of hands on a piano.


Musicians at Idyllwild Arts receive the requisite preparation to establish a career, excel in their craft, and become artistic leaders in the industry. By studying a comprehensive curriculum of music theory, history, and technology coupled with private lessons and ensembles, our students build a strong foundation, find their own unique style, and achieve professional excellence in Classical, Jazz, Songwriting, and/or Voice studies.

A music student.


As the universal language, music expresses the deepest emotions of the human soul. At Idyllwild Arts, we foster dynamic creativity while upholding the highest standards of musical excellence, nurturing the talents and passions of young musicians from across the globe. Through rigorous training, we not only help our students advance their skills and cultivate their artistry, we also develop them into nimble leaders primed to make a profound impact in an ever-evolving industry.


By leveraging deep faculty connections in the music industry, Idyllwild Arts regularly hosts special guest teachers from around the world who pass down centuries of rich artistic tradition and provide an educational experience unparalleled at the high school level. Notable Masterclasses and Residencies have included: Juilliard, Tokyo, St. Petersburg, and Miró String Quartets, three-time Grammy Award winner Hilary Hahn, Platinum record-winning songwriter Pam Sheyne, conductor Jung-Ho Pak, pianists Norman Krieger, Lorna Griffith, and Tamir Hendelman, violinists Midori Goto, Ruggiero Ricci, and Harutune Bedelian, ensembles Delirium Musicum and Astral Mixtape, and jazz artists Delfeayo Marsalis and Remy LaBoeuf.

Regardless of concentration, all Music majors have ample opportunities to collaborate with their peers and showcase their skills at performances on and off campus throughout the year, including concerts, recitals, and festivals (such as the Reno Jazz Festival). Student musicians also have the opportunity to perform onstage alongside renowned visiting artists. Students also have opportunities to visit professional music studios.

Students regularly compete in and win prestigious competitions both within and beyond our campus community, including the Spotlight Competition in Los Angeles, VSO’s National Young Artist Competition, Carnegie Hall’s NYO USA program, and many more. Classical Instrumentalists are invited to participate in the annual Idyllwild Arts Concerto Competition, and finalists perform as soloists with our full Academy Orchestra.

Audition/Portfolio Requirements

Frequently Asked Questions

The schedule varies by program, but generally students attend academic classes in the morning from 8:30am until lunch and then begin their arts classes in the afternoon from 2:15pm through the evening. A variety of rehearsals and performances also take place in the afternoon and evening. Private lessons are scheduled individually with the instructor.

Music students will participate in placement tests and auditions for their course of study (ie. Theory, Orchestra, etc), and finalize their arts schedule and ensemble assignments with faculty. Arts classes typically begin a few days after academic classes.

We encourage all of our music students to practice whenever possible and we provide ample practice time throughout the day, including in the morning before class, during the day where there is space in the schedule, in the evening after dinner, and on weekends.

Music students perform both on- and off-campus throughout the year, and regularly participate in local and regional competitions. Students give a recital in 11th and 12th grade as a part of earning their Arts Certificate for graduation. All students can audition for student showcases and the annual concerto competition.

We believe collaboration and interdisciplinary connection help fuel creativity. The Music Department regularly works to facilitate these connections both within and outside the department to support our students’ artistic development, including opportunities to accompany theatrical productions, score films, and more.

Students can go off campus most weekends. Faculty and staff facilitate excursions to nearby cities like Los Angeles and San Diego to attend and participate in performances, enter competitions, and begin to explore the nuances of the music industry. 

Featured Music Alumni

Trevor Hall headshot.

Trevor Hall, Class of 2005

Songwriter, Guitarist, and Recording/Touring Artist

Nora Germain headshot.

Nora Germain, Class of 2009

Jazz Violinist

Moni Simeonov headshot.

Moni Simeonov, Class of 2000

Colburn School Professor of Violin & Chamber Music Chair

A dancer.

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