Composition & Songwriting at CYM

Many young musicians create their own music and CYM has always provided opportunities for students to express themselves through writing in a variety of styles.

Contemporary Classical Music

In September 2017 CYM launched a composition pathway for its student composers. CYM students are now able to study composition as a first or second study, similarly to instrumental studies. The composition department offers group and private lessons, in which young composers will learn techniques, discover new music and develop their independent understanding of how music comes together. With practicality in mind, student composers will write at least two chamber compositions, which will be performed and recorded at CYM and be used to start their composer portfolio. In preparation for the concerts, they will gain valuable experience in creating professional looking scores, writing for various orchestral instruments and working closely with the performing musicians.

Following a visit from Judith Weir CYM went on to be mentioned in her blog post: Judith Weir Blog Post

Application Process:

The application deadline is March 7th 2022 and the interview will be held in March or April. Please submit materials by Friday 18th March 2022.

1st stage: application

Materials to submit:

  • Send 2 original scores of any length and instrumentation. Any style of classical/modern composition is acceptable, but no popular music. Please send these in PDF format only.
  • Send recordings of these pieces if you have any – live or MIDI. Send in mp3 format only.
  • Let us know the following (whether you have experience in composition or not):
    • Your level of ability or official grade accomplished in aural and music theory and how long you have been studying/practising each.
    • Are you proficient in notation software such as Sibelius/Finale? If not, would you be able to learn how to use one before the academic year begins?
    • In one paragraph, please describe what experience you have in composition and why you would like to learn composition in CYM.
    • If you haven’t composed before, please let us know why you think you would be suitable for the programme. We will favour applicants who can already demonstrate compositional skills and strong interest and devotion to composition, but would like to hear from any highly creative musicians who want to compose seriously.

Applicants who pass the application stage will be invited to interview at CYM.

2nd stage: interview

  • Applicants discuss their interest in composition and their music education history.
  • Interest in music: styles and composers and what specifically they like about them.
  • Interviewers find out more about applicants’ proficiency in notation software.
  • Briefly discuss their submitted work and what they hope to accomplish in the programme and beyond.
  • Theoretical questions: scales, intervals, chords, harmonic functions (tonic, dominant, subdominant etc) and degrees, inversions.

How to apply:

Please complete the online applications on our APPLY page

When the applications close, 7th March 2022, you will be emailed details of how and where to submit your supporting materials.


The Songwriting classes offer in-depth theoretical analyses of song styles from the Classical era to Jazz and present-day Popular styles, and practical exercises implementing a range of compositional techniques that enable students to develop their original voice in any style of their choosing. Special attention is given to the relationships between:

  • Music and language
  • Melodic and harmonic movement
  • Chord cells
  • Phrase structure and form
  • Rhythm and style

which we study through group improvisation, learning and performing repertoire, and individual tutorial sessions. Students also have the opportunity to co-write, accompany, and arrange for one another.

To attend the classes students must be:

  • Year 9 and upward
  • Approximately Grade 5
  • Be actively engaged in composing and/or performing their own instrumental music, songs, and/or lyrics.

Composers, creative writers, and lyricists welcome.