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 SPRING Semester


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

Registration Deadline is February 8

We’d love for you to post it in your classrooms and rehearsal rooms
  • Students complete one work each semester, which is then read by an ensemble of professional musicians.
  • Reading sessions are recorded for inclusion in college portfolios, competitions and the like.
  • Class size is limited to assure personalized attention
  • Visits by renowned guest composers & free entrance to ACO special events, including direct contact with leading composers.


Our THEME for the SPRING Semester will be Composing for Vocalists! This has always been one of our more popular themes. While we’ll continue to expand our exploration of the diversity of approaches that music creators have for communicating their ideas to performers and audiences, we’ll focus our work on learning to deal with text and the human voice as a primary vehicle of expression. This semester will feature an informational session with 3 professional singers, who will also be the performers in our end of semester reading session.

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

Special Note: it is not necessary to be local to New York 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

Classes will meet:
In-person lasses will meet at the ACO offices at 409 8th Avenue in Manhattan. Students who are not able to attend in person will continue to able to participate Via ZOOM. You’ll have the opportunity on the registration to note your preference for either in-person or remote classes. 

on the following days or during the weeks that follow:
February 11, 25  —  March 4, 11 — April 1, 15, 22, 29  —  May 6, 20, 27 
Our reading session will be scheduled during the first 2 weeks of June in conjunction with the ACO SONiC Festival

Days and times
Our classes are scheduled to accommodate our students – they may fall during the week after school or in the early evenings, or on the weekends. So please be thorough when checking your availability on the registration form. 

Special Events
Our “Introduction to Composing for Vocalists” will be scheduled for late February with our guest artists (details TBA) 

ACO also provides access to dress rehearsals and other special events for all of our Compose Yourself! students, including Q&A sessions with our featured composers. This semester that will include a Carnegie Hall concert on Thursday March 16th, and a variety of events during the SONiC Festival from June 1-11.  

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.


*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.

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

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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