Compose Yourself! Registration

ACO Compose Yourself


The ACO Compose Yourself! program is designed to help young composers develop positive approaches to creativity, learn professional standards of notation, and develop strong orchestration technique in a supportive, hands-on environment.

This class is great for high schoolers who are interested in music creation, whether they’ll be attempting their first score, or have already been composing for years, whether they’re writing pop songs, jazz or the next great symphony. 

Do You Want to Learn to Compose?



for the SUMMER High School Composers Intensive


scroll down this page to find the registration form and more info

Register by June  30th

  • Students will complete a new work during the intensive, which will then be read by an ensemble of professional musicians.
  • Reading sessions are recorded for inclusion in college portfolios, competitions and the like.
  • Each class is limited to 8 students to assure personalized attention
  • Visits by renowned guest composers 

Classes will take place on Tuesdays & Thursdays beginning August 1.


Our THEME this summer will be Craft vs Creativity. We’ll work to understand the role of each in a successful piece of music. as well as how to balance them in order to more effectively and authentically represent our ideas in music. 

Compose Yourself! classes are taught by ACO Education Director, Kevin James.

It is not necessary to be local to New York City to participate in Compose Yourself!. During COVID we’ve been able to accommodate students from across the world, and will continue to do so via Hybrid and Zoom classes

Important Info

This Class is for:
HIGH SCHOOL aged students, including rising 9th graders and rising collegians

Location for classes:
Classes will be hosted by one of ACO’s partners in Manhattan – check back here for more info later this spring.
Students who are not able to attend in person will continue to able to participate Via ZOOM. 

Classes will meet on:
August  1, 3, 8, 10, 17, 22.  The date our reading session is TBD, but will fall between Aug. 24-27

Class times:
Either 10am-12:30pm OR 1:30-4pm

Other Requirements:
Students are required to attend ALL sessions.
Although we’re open to, and often explore alternative approaches, students need to be able to read music.


*PARTIAL and FULL SCHOLARSHIPS are available. ACO is committed to assuring that all interested students are able to participate, regardless of need. Look for the appropriate check box on the registration form below


Fill out and submit the form below – you’ll need to scroll through this section to see all the questions. When you hit “Submit”, you’ll receive a confirmation that your registration has been received.

Kevin James

Known for the breadth of his palette and original concepts, the music of ACO Education Director, Kevin James, ranges from the gospel-inflected to the microtonal, from works for young singers to improv orchestras, with and without electronics, from the raucous to the sublime.

New York Times critics named the works of his Vanishing Languages Project among the “Best of 2013… as haunting as they were riveting”. The project received a feature story on the syndicated PRI program, The World, and Chicago Classical included the first of the works among its “Top Ten Performances of 2011”. More recent commissions include a work for Quintet of the Americas, focused on the collision of natural and urban environments in Rockaway, Queens, his Guerrilla Fanfare, a headlining event for Make Music festivals in New York and Chicago, and a work for Mivos String Quartet and Mantra Percussion using surround audio drawn from field recordings of the howler
monkeys of Ometepe Island in Nicaragua.

Kevin has been deeply involved in education throughout his career, including over 60 university guest artist residencies. His work with younger students began through his selection for the prestigious Meet The Composer/New Residencies Program, which placed him in partnership with Coalition for the Homeless and the NYC Police Athletic League, where he served for 8 years as the Director of Arts Learning prior to joining the team at ACO. During that time and since, Kevin has been an influential voice in world of arts education, designing and initiating programs, serving on expert panels, and consulting on behalf of educational groups large and small throughout the US.

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 at or call him at 212-977-8495 ext. 202 

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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