The Young Artist Performance Curriculum

 The Young Artist Curricula


Young Artist students complete yearly goals in their major, following the requirements outlined  below. Each student must show this curriculum to his/her private teacher at the beginning of the year. Together, student and teacher select a level, which best fits their goals for the year.  Once the level is chosen, the student prepares with the private teacher in order to meet its requirements by Evaluation Week in April.

Choose a link below to download or view the curriculum and Evaluation requirements for Young Artist Majors.

Cello Curriculum

Flute Curriculum

Guitar Curriculum

Piano Curriculum

Saxophone Curriculum

Trumpet Curriculum

Horn Curriculum

Violin Curriculum

Voice Curriculum



Performance majors 

Students pass their level by performing repertoire in Performance Class, in Concert, and at the Evaluation.

  1. Students may choose to perform three or four different pieces in Performance Classes. Scheduled throughout the year, these four classes offer preparation deadlines as well as a chance for the student to “try out” each piece by performing in this smaller setting.
  2. Two pieces are evaluated when they are performed at the Young Artist Solo Recitals. The student performs one piece at the winter YA Solo Recital and the other at the Spring YA Solo Recital.
  3. The remaining pieces are performed at the spring Evaluation. The student will receive written comments and scores on these performances.


Please note: If a student is not prepared to with the complete requirements by the time of Evaluations, he/she must email the HMPAssistant to request a “Make Up Evaluation.” The student will then continue to prepare and will attend a Make Up Evaluation during the summer, and must complete the requirements before Aug. 1st. Make Up Evaluations require a $50 fee. 




The HMP Jazz Improvisation Curriculum


Young Artist students begin their jazz studies grouped in classes of keyboard players or melodic instrumentalists.  The groups are integrated when possible, allowing keyboardists and instrumentalists the experience of playing together.  After completing level three of improvisation study, students may qualify for placement in small combos. Improvisation is learned through musical dialogue, shared ideas, and the practical application of the tools instructors provide students.  Daily practice using those tools as well as listening outside of class, is required.



Level 1

Beginning improv students  focus on form and listening in order to develop a foundation for their improvised melodies.

We will concentrate on the 12-bar blues form using I, IV, and V chords.  Tunes will include All Blues, C Jam Blues, and Blue Monk, or similar.

Improvising scales will include the major and minor blues scales and the Mixolydian mode.

Pianists will learn to play left-hand voicings using 3rds and 7ths.

Melodic instrumentalists will learn the concept of “riff,” build their own riffs and embellish them.  They will learn how to choose notes to harmonize with each other.  Cellists and bassists will also learn the rudiments of the jazz walking bass including roots, fifths, and triads.

Students will also compose their own blues motives.

Students may be assigned written music in the jazz or blues style, to help them incorporate stylistic ideas into their improvising.  Other written exercises may include simple transcribing and transposing.

Throughout the year, students will be exposed to jazz recordings of musical and historical significance.  They will be taught to listen for time and form.

Level 2

Improv students will expand their knowledge of harmony and increase their improvisational vocabulary in Level 2.

We will introduce the blues form with ii-V and the AABA form.  Tunes will include Straight, No Chaser, St. Thomas, So What or Impressions, Take the ‘A’ Train or a similar AABA tune, and possibly more.

Students will add the Dorian mode to their arsenal of scales.

Pianists will add 5ths, 9ths, and 13ths to their voicings.

Melodic instrumentalists will learn upper extensions of chords through arpeggio exercises, and use these extensions to harmonize with each other.  They will improvise using chord tones.  Written exercises will include writing out the notes in the chords of a progression.

Cellists and bassists will expand their walking bass lines to include chord tones, the Dorian scale, and simple patterns.

Transcriptions and transpositions will continue.

Level 3

We will begin to integrate pianists and melodic instrumentalists in third-level improv, if scheduling allows.  Piano students will start to learn the accompaniment, “comping” role, and instrumentalists will listen for time and harmony.

Third-level piano improv students will learn two ii-V voicing patterns: 3-5-7-9 to 7-9-3-13, and 7-9-3-5 to 3-13-7-9.  They will start to use the walking bass in their left hand.  They will begin to play songs by ear using the bass, chord quality, rhythmic feel, and melody method.

New scales for all students will include the diminished and whole-tone scales.

We will introduce Latin rhythms including the bossa nova, with tunes such as “Blue Bossa” or “Oye Como Va.”

Cellists and bassists will begin to learn groove-oriented bass figures, and play walking lines using major and minor scales in conjunction with the scales and chord patterns they have learned.

Instructors will select easy- to mid-level standard tunes such as “Autumn Leaves,” “There Will Never Be Another You,” or “Bye Bye Blackbird.”

Transcriptions and transpositions will increase in difficulty.

Level 4

In this level keyboard improv students will choose between Advanced Keyboard Harmony I or Combo.

Keyboard Harmony will introduce the tritone substitution and altered 7th voicings.  Students will learn to build two-handed solo voicings and to create walking bass lines with more complexity.  Tunes will include “Blue in Green” and others, possibly “Misty” or “You Don’t Know What Love Is.”

Students will also begin to study reharmonization using the idea of “leading to I (i).”  They will begin to learn harmonic improvisation as well as melodic.

In the Combo setting, students will be grouped into ensembles of two, three, or four, and play standard jazz tunes of varying meter, rhythmic feel, and style.  For example, tunes may include “Green Dolphin Street,” “Someday My Prince Will Come,” or “Hey Jude” (Paul McCartney).

Pianists, cellists, and guitarists will comp and provide bass lines.  Melodic instrumentalists will harmonize, use riffs, and play melodies.  All will take turns soloing and supporting each other in the jazz combo setting.

Any number of melodic instrumentalists may join a combo, but each combo will only have one pianist and/or guitarist, and only one cellist and/or bassist.

Level 5

In Advanced Keyboard Harmony II, pianists will learn to use nested tritone substitutions and chromatic chord movement.  Tunes may include “Beyond the Sea” or “Blue Room,” since rhythm changes are very conducive to the use of the tritone substitution.  Reharmonizations will expand to include entire simple tunes.  We will also look at voicing movement within a single chord (such as parallel fourths for maj7 or min7 chords, or I-ii-b3dim-I/III for maj7 or 7 chords.  More tune possibilities include “Crystal Silence” (Chick Corea) or “Skylark.”

Fifth-level combo students will perform both bebop and modal tunes.  Modal tunes may include “The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers” (Steve Kuhn), “Passion Dance” (McCoy Tyner), or “Maiden Voyage” (Herbie Hancock).  These kinds of tunes have less frequent chord changes, and modal improvisation is a different approach.  Students cannot rely on chord changes to direct their creativity, and must instead rely on “groove” and individual expression.

Beginning bebop tunes may include “Scrapple from the Apple” or “Yardbird Suite” (Charlie Parker) or “Salt Peanuts” (Dizzy Gillespie).  We will study the bebop approach to improvisation, which is very technical and detailed.  The bebop vocabulary is a large part of the core language of jazz improvisation.  We will analyze solos from “The Charlie Parker Omnibook.”

Level 6

This Improv class should solidify the students’ grounding in bebop.  They will play more difficult bebop tunes such as  “Confirmation” and “Donna Lee” (Charlie Parker), and we will work on rhythm changes in bebop tunes such as “Oleo” (Sonny Rollins) and “Anthropology” (Charlie Parker), or “I Got Rhythm”.  Throughout the year, students will practice bebop licks in every key.

This focus on bebop will guide both the combo classes and all-pianist classes.  Pianists will comp with two- to three-note voicings and can incorporate simple walking bass lines, since bebop moves very quickly.

Students will compose their own bebop licks and write bebop melodies above a set of established chord changes.  This is the method that the pioneering bebop artists used to write many tunes.  By studying scales and arpeggios, the students will be able to write melodies that sound authentic.

Level 7

By this point in their improvisation education, students should work on more difficult tunes, such as “Giant Steps” (John Coltrane),”Valse Hot” (Sonny Rollins), or “La Fiesta” (Chick Corea).  Seventh-level students are able to improvise in different meters, such as five and seven.  Tunes can be taken from Dave Brubeck’s “Time Out” album (“Take Five” in five, “Blue Rondo a la Turk” in nine) or the popular American songbook (Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill” in seven).

Students will be expected to run tunes down by themselves.  This requires making decisions such as the tempo of the tune, the order of solos, any key changes or other harmonic substitutions, and how to end the tune.

Should there exist an all-pianist class at this level, they can play tunes such as “Lush Life” (Billy Strayhorn), “Goodbye Porkpie Hat” (Charles Mingus), or “Black Diamonds” (Milt Sealey).  These will challenge the students’ ability to create voicings and melodic lines that provide threads of continuity through complex music.

Students at this level will also be expected to compose tunes using their knowledge of melody, harmony, and rhythm.  Melodic instrumentalists can compose a melody, while pianists and guitarists can harmonize it, and cellists and bassists can provide bass figures.  Of course, students will be encouraged to compose entire tunes by themselves.  The final recital should include students’ compositions.


*Note regarding exemptions: Students may opt to take private improvisation or jazz lessons instead of a Young Artist Improvisation class.  This will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will require an interview with the student and the student’s private improvisation teacher.  The Improvisation Coordinator will hear the student improvise at the end of each semester, to be sure the student is making sufficient progress.  The student must perform in the YAP Improvisation Concert at the end of the year.  These lessons are considered outside of the Young Artist Program and no scheduling concessions will be made for conflicts.  It will be the student’s responsibility to schedule the lessons at a time that does not conflict with his or her Young Artist obligations.