School of Music  |  New York City    Drummers Collective, Bass Collective, Guitar Collective, Keyboard Collective

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Please note - Specific course offerings, in terms of topic areas, class hours, number of assigned lessons, and practice time, are subject to adjustment on a semester-to-semester basis without prior notice.



This program gives the student the opportunity to undertake an intensive period of study in areas and topics of personal interest. Students choose from class offerings and professional rhythm section style areas. Elective offerings may vary from semester to semester.
This program includes the following courses:

READING PROFICIENCY PROGRAM (9 class sequence – 18 contact hours)
The Collective Reading Proficiency Program consists of a series of progressive courses on levels from 1 to 5. Students learn sight-reading skills and the ability to interpret music from a wide variety of sources and formats
RHYTHM SECTION INTENSIVE PERFORMANCE ELECTIVES (10 class sequence – 20 contact hours)
Each of the following elective rhythm section classes has an associated private lesson assigned to the student with the instructor of the performance class. The focus of the private work is to prepare for and review the work done in the rhythm section class. All rhythm section classes have professional rhythm section players.
NOTE: Elective Intensives offerings are subject to minimal enrollment levels.
                  A.  Contemporary Jazz
                  B.  Jazz / Groove
                  C.  Contemporary Professional Musician
                  D.  Progressive Rock  (Winter & Summer semesters only)
                  E.  Brazilian Styles (Fall & Spring semesters only)
                  F.  Pop/R&B (Fall & Summer semesters only


Contemporary Jazz: Ian Froman
The Contemporary Jazz EIP offers students a modern approach to small group jazz performance. Emphasis consists of 8 topics that put the student in a variety of time feels and styles within this genre. Sight reading, form and harmonic motion are stressed as well as the ability to interact in an improvisational setting. The culmination of the class is a recital on week-10 in which the student leads and introduces their performance.

Jazz / Groove Music: Peter Retzlaff
The Jazz/Groove Music EIP program is designed to prepare a student to play in jazz and groove based styles. Jazz styles include bebop, hard bop, cool, and contemporary historic styles as well as more modern interpretations occurring in music today. Groove based styles include early r and b, funk, shuffles, as well as more modern styles reflected in music today. There is a weekly bass class and a weekly full rhythm section class for each student. In addition to the playing classes, the student participates in a weekly musicianship, elective, and reading classes. Also, the student
participates in both assigned and elective lessons.

Progressive Rock: Jason Gianni
The Progressive Rock EIP is a 10-week course touching on all aspects of progressive music ranging from the early 70's to the current day.  The student will gain experience in both a live rhythm section environment as well as pre-recorded track performances.  In addition, all techniques ranging from Odd-time Signatures to Polyrhythms and ostinato soloing are covered from week-to-week to insure a most satisfying learning environment in this specialized genre of music.

New Musical Concepts: Peter Retzlaff, Jacob Sacks, Dave Ambrosio
The New Music Concepts EIP focuses on the interrelationship of current musical trends, including Jazz, Rock, Funk, Odd Meter, Brazilian and Afro-Cuban styles. Faculty instructors Peter Retzlaff, David Ambrosio, and Jacob Sacks teach this course in tandem. Each student develops a personalized program with the instructors based on the music they want to learn about and to perform. Emphasis can be on performance, on arranging/composition, or on a combination of both. Each week there is a performance class in which each student plays with the faculty. In addition, the students participate in a weekly music concepts class. Topics investigated in this class include how to arrange and compose music, how to improve technical and musical aspects of performance, how to develop interaction skills with the ensemble, how to develop listening and concentration skills, how to develop odd meter playing, and how to develop dynamics and stylistic vocabulary in ensemble situations. In addition to these classes, the students participate in weekly Musicianship and Elective classes as well as 10 assigned private lessons with a course instructor.

Contemporary Fusion & Afro-Cuban Music: Kim Plainfield
This course focuses on contemporary application of Afro Cuban and Fusion styles. The Afro Cuban music draws from such artists as The Caribbean Jazz Project, Dave Valentine, Bill O'Connell and Sakesho. The emphasis stresses use of traditional Afro Cuban rhythms with multiple variations to allow greater agility. Students are also taught conga and timbale rhythms to enhance their knowledge of the Afro Cuban genre. The Fusion feature of this class utilizes to music of The Yellowjackets, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, Alan Holdsworth and Snarky Puppy.  Students are assigned a tune each week and have a week to prepare the music for the rhythm section.  This preparation includes a private lesson with the bass player and one with the director.

Performing Electronic Based Music: John Davis

In order to play electronic music well, one must approach their instrument in a different manner, opening up one's mind to sonic and compositional concepts that are rooted far from 'performed' music.  One must learn to think like a producer or a programmer, rather than a drummer or bassist.

In this Elective class students will learn about the roots of electronic music, the evolution of the technology involved (and the aesthetic implications therein), and the many distinct styles and schools that have developed along the way.  This class will focus on 'reverse engineering': taking sounds, concepts, and forms from electronic/dance music and applying them in creative ways to our instruments.


Each performance style offers private lessons with the teacher for the purposes of preparing and reviewing the student's performance in the rhythm section class.
ELECTIVE CLASS (8 class sequence – 16 contact hours)
Students may further personalize their plan of study by choosing from the following list of elective classes. Prerequisites may apply. Elective class offerings are subject to minimal enrollment levels and are open to non-fulltime students (list shown below).


ELECTIVE PRIVATE STUDY (1 class - 5 contact hours)

Students may work privately with a teacher of their choice on material of their own choosing.


These courses are offered every semester-contingent upon enrollment. Elective classes are included in every second-year program: PMP, EIP, and APP. Students in these programs should make a selection from the list below. Students not in one of these programs may add an elective class to their program for an additional tuition fee.


This class studies the natural movement of the hands, feet and body with emphasis on breathing while performing. The student will study and perform various exercises on both the pad and the drum set with the goal of gaining more mastery of the body during performance situations.

Students work on developing their musical spontaneity in within given formal structures and contexts. Soloing and improvisation is studied in a number of important styles and settings. Available for non-drum students upon request.

Students work in a systematic way to achieve fluency in the less common meters and subdivisions, with a strong focus on musical application in accompaniment and soloing situations. Odd meters in /4, /8, /16*,  rhythm scales and rhythmic subdivisions over multiple beats will be among the topics covered in this course.


The complexity of polyrhythm’s is laid out in an relatively easy to understand system, which helps students to find musical applications to each set of rhythmic and metric combinations.


This course deals with learning how to handle the pressures associated with performance and how to develop “positive performance thought”. Students will also learn how to bring variety and subtlety to their performance – a number of styles and feels will by focused on, including; Samba, Partido Alto, 3/4 Samba, Baiao, Cascara, Clave, Songo, Mozambique, Afro Cuban 6/8, Contemporary Funk, 3/4 Funk & Swing.

This class will combine basic vocal production with principles of the F.M. Alexander Technique.  The students will learn to sing in a relaxed and effortless way, with the least amount of stress and tension possible. Techniques studied in this class will enhance an individual’s overall musical performance.

This course goes through a series of sequential exercises designed to help students master common chord progressions and their associated key centers. Chord patterns start with diatonic 7th chords and progress through 251 progressions, altered chords, and chord extensions.  


This course links the study of music theory with its practical application aural and keyboard skills. Students apply information studied in class to the piano keyboard. Course topics include scales, chord structures, chord progressions, and song forms.

Students learn to apply basic musical concepts to the writing and arranging of original material. Both live and electronic media are used in this course.

Students are introduced to the professional state-of-the-art recording techniques and software, including Pro-Tools, Digital Performer, and Logic.


This course is designed to help students become self-sufficient in the utilization of contemporary digital tools for the purpose of promoting themselves and their music. Students learn the basics of web, Myspace, and facebook site development and construction and design, using state-of-the-art Adobe Creative Suite software. The goal of the course is for each student to launch there own MySpace or Facebook site, and to understand how to proceed to launch their own web site.





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