Education Programs for Parents and Students

Registration is now open for all of our summer programs!

ACO Sonic Spark Lab

ACO SONIC SPARK LAB is a hands-on program that teaches students to engage with their creativity, to use curiosity to grow their imagination and to build an idea from just a spark to artistic realization. 

With an emphasis on project-based production, tech and song-writingSonic Spark Lab is a fun and effective approach to building creative capacity and introducing the creative arts to New York City Middle School and High School students.

This summer we’re offering classes for:
6th-8th graders (10-14yr olds)
9th-12 graders (14-18yr olds)

Register now for Sonic Spark Lab classes!

I am extremely appreciative for all of the time, work, and dedication that the SPARK Team has given to my children. It has made a wonderful difference and a lasting impact on their Creativity, Confidence, Learning.

Recent Sonic Spark Lab Parent
ACO Compose Yourself

COMPOSE YOURSELF! is for ambitious high schoolers wishing to learn to compose their own music.

Compose Yourself! helps young composers develop habits of creativity and learn professional standards in a supportive, hands-on environment. The program has a strong record of preparing its students for the rigors of college and beyond.

Students learn to develop a strong creative process, an artistic voice of their own, and a healthy approach to their craft.

Open to: 9th-12 graders (14-18yr olds)
(advanced 8th graders may inquire)

Register now for the FALL Semester of Compose Yourself!

The Compose Yourself program has opened my mind to new ways to interpret and listen to music.

Che Buford, Compose Yourself! Student

Student interest in any and all genres is welcome


  • Sonic Spark Lab and Compose Yourself! are semester based programs.
  • Classes generally run Oct.-Jan (fall) and Feb.-May (spring)
  • Sonic Spark Lab Summer Session runs July-mid August.
  • Compose Yourself! Summer Composers Intensive takes place in August.
  • Specific class dates and times each semester are posted when registration opens (use registration buttons above)

Program Features

  • Culminating performances of students works. Compose Yourself! reading sessions are with professional musicians
  • All classes are taught by high-level active professional composers with strong teaching experience
  • Class sizes are limited to assure personalized attention
  • Visits by renowned guest composers
  • Access to ACO dress rehearsals and special events


  • Students are required to attend all classes.
  • For Sonic Spark Lab, to get the most out of the program students should have some prior music experience, but there are no minimum requirements beyond enthusiasm.
  • For Compose Yourself! the ability to read music is highly recommended since a great deal of our learning results from experiencing how musicians respond to our notation.

Tuition*: ranges from $125-450 per semester

*American Composers Orchestra is committed to making our programs available to ALL interested students -scholarships are available in cases of financial need.

Meet Our Teaching Artists

J.L. (Jess) Marlor is a multidisciplinary artist, composer, songwriter, performer, and educator. Called “refreshingly bold” by Opera Wire, J.L. primarily writes chamber music, opera, musical theater, and contemporary classical music. Best known for her vocal music, J.L. has written for Wet Ink Ensemble, SparkDuo, The DeCamera Singers, Mivos Quartet, OperaRox, LoftOpera, and the New Music Gathering, 

J.L. creates multi-genre works involving, among others, Balkan folk techniques, musical theater, bel canto, riot grrrl punk, folk singing, and American protest music.

As an electric guitarist, J.L. performs as the frontwoman of the indie rock band, THB, at venues such as Arlene’s Grocery, Union Pool, The Knitting Factory, and others.  J.L. also performs regularly as a singer and lead guitarist of the punk-rock musical turned concert experience, Riot Antigone, at La Mama, Ars Nova and Joe’s Pub. A passionate educator J.L. teaches composition and musicianship with the NY Phil’s Very Young Composer program, The Symphony of Westchester’s Songcatchers program, and the American Composers Orchestra.


J.L. (Jess) Marlor


Fabian Beltran

Fabian Beltran, composer and pianist, is a native of Columbia. His music combines elements of classical, contemporary, popular, and Latin American music. Fabian has won numerous awards including the Music Now competition, Russell Horn Composition Award, Reed Holmes Music Composition Award, Memphis Belvedere Chamber Music Award, and UTSA COLFA Music Awards. 

His music has been performed across the U.S., Asia, and Latin America at venues including Carnegie Hall, National Sawdust, Symphony Space and at festivals such as Atlantic Music, Fresh Inc, Soundscapes, Kansas City Electronic Music & Arts Alliance, Vox Novus, and Aquila Concert Series.  Recent projects include performances and recordings by the International Contemporary Ensemble and the JACK Quartet. 

Currently Fabian is a teaching assistant and a Ph.D. fellow at New York University.  Besides composing, Fabian is an educator,  performer, amateur painter, and one of the co-founders of Sforzando Composer’s Collective, dedicated to the creation of multidisciplinary works in New York City.

Trained as a pianist, teacher, composer, Lucy Yao allows music to go anywhere possible that is unexplored. By redefining grief as a source for uncovering and discovery, her work is created with an urgency to preserve memory and to illuminate joys hidden in the sounds of the everyday. 

As an educator, Lucy is a Teaching Artist at the American Composer’s Orchestra, and has led masterclasses internationally at the Gilmore Keys Fest, World Teachers Piano Association (WPTA), and throughout the U.S.   

As a composer, she has discovered a passion for writing for dance with highlights including commissions from the Joffrey Ballet Contemporary School and Marymount College.  She is highly in demand as a collaborative pianist, holding positions at New York University, Interlochen Center for the Arts, the University of Michigan, and the Manhattan School of Music. 


Lucy Yao

Madison Greenstone is a Brooklyn-based performer, composer, artist and writer. Notable solo and chamber musician performances include the Vigeland Mausoleum (Oslo), the Merce Cunningham Centennial Night of 100 Solos (LA), and ISSUE Project Room, Fondation Abbaye Royaumont (FR), Darmstadt (DE) Petersburg Art Space (DE), Ende Tymes Festival (NYC), Harvard, The Stone, Studio 8 (DE), Princeton, Space for Free Arts (FI) among other. 

Recent recordings include Wandelweiser Editions, Another Timbre, TAK Editions, Tripticks Tapes and upcoming on eë editions (AT, 2022), IMPAKT Kollektiv (DE, 2022) and Relative Pitch Records (NYC, 2023). 

As a composer, Madison has made pieces for T.ON (DE), Erik Carlson, for their own performance as a clarinetist & DIY electronics-explorer, and in the co-composer/improviser duo of Shy Bather with Michelle Lou. As a writer, Madison has published through the Museum of Art and History in Neuchâtel and TEMPO Cambridge. 

Madison is the clarinetist of TAK Ensemble and the [Switch~ Ensemble]. They received their B.M. from the Eastman School of Music, and are currently a doctoral candidate at UC San Diego.


Madison Greenstone

Questions & Information

If you have any questions or would like further information on how you child could benefit from ACO Education programming, contact Kevin James, Education Director: 212.977.8495 ext. 202 or

Our Mission & Vision

American Composers Orchestra (ACO) is dedicated to the creation, celebration, performance, and promotion of orchestral music by American composers. With commitment to diversity, disruption and discovery, ACO produces concerts, pre-college and college education programs, and emerging composer professional development to foster a community of creators, audience, performers, collaborators, and funders.

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