Until we can meet safely in person, we invite you to join the Springfield Symphony Youth Orchestras (SSYO) each week to expand your horizons in music.

Four carefully designed live virtual courses will be led by an exceptional professional faculty. Weekly classes in four-week sessions will be offered starting October 17 & 18.

  • Small class sizes
  • Exciting new faculty
  • Choose one course, or all four
  • 4-week sessions

For information on upcoming sessions, please contact Education Director Kirsten Lipkens at

Session 1:  Saturdays and Sundays

Students may take 1-4 courses per week

Small Ensemble/Group Coaching

Coaches: Springfield Symphony Orchestra Professional Musicians

This is open to all SSYO students, and all instruments. Once registration is complete, groups of 4-6 students will be formed based on instrument or small ensemble repertoire. Groups will then be matched with SSO musicians who will teach the students each week. Special projects and themes will be determined based on enrollment and needs of the students registered. The course will conclude with an interactive creative performance designed by the teachers and students.

Class size limit: 6
Offered: Saturdays 9:00AM or 10:15 AM (10/17, 10/24, 10/31, and 11/7) or Sundays 5:00PM or 6:15 PM (10/18, 10/25, 11/1, and 11/8)
Tuition: $60.00

Introduction to Music Composition

Instructor: Haneef Nelson

Have you ever wanted to learn how to compose music but do not know where to start?  Have you ever thought:  “I wish I could write my own songs?” Would you like a starting place in the journey of becoming a composer?  This 4-week session will introduce music composition through an exploration of several styles of writing music. Each week students receive instructor feedback, take part in group collaborations and all students will create an original composition. No prior knowledge of music theory is required for this class.

Class size limit: 15
Offered Saturdays 10:15 AM (10/17, 10/24, 10/31, and 11/7)
Tuition: $60.00


PDF for Printing

Introduction to Music Composition

Required Text/Tools:

  1. Blank Staff Paper
  2. Computer/tablet to be able to log into Zoom
  3. Ability to record yourself playing your composition
  4. Ability to scan/take a picture and send written work to instructor

Week 1: What is music composition?

  1. Talking about what it means to compose music.
  2. The difference between spontaneous composition (improvisation) and writing a song/piece of music to be played over and over again
  3. Large ensemble vs. small/solo ensemble(s) composition (with instructor’s examples)
  4. Homework: Listen to one of your favorite compositions, tell us what it is, and why you like it so much. It can be from any genre of music

Week 2: Composition vs. Arranging

  1. What’s the difference?
  2. Is there any originality in arranging?
  3. How do I compose/arrange original music?
  4. Homework: Mary Had a Little Lamb

Week 3: The 12 Bar Blues

  1. What is a 12 Bar Blues?
  2. Why use the Blues?
  3. Which notes can I use?
  4. Homework: Blues Composition (email it instructor at least 48 hours before the next class)

Week 4: Review of our Original Compositions

  1. Review of our composition
  2. How to move forward in composition
  3. Final Thoughts

About the Instructor: 

Haneef N. Nelson is a trumpeter, composer, arranger and educator. He received degrees from the Hartt School and UMass Amherst. He has taught at Community Music School of Springfield, Hartt School of Music, Amherst College, and Keene State College. Mr. Nelson currently serves as Professor of Jazz History at the University of Rhode Island, in addition to having a private lesson studio. He has given masterclasses and workshops in various educational and professional settings as well as spent time recording with various Gospel and Jazz Artists. He has performed with Rene McLean, Bill Saxton, Chico Freeman, William Cepeda, Wilson “Chembo” Corniel, Nat Reeves, Yoron Israel, Avery Sharpe, Frank Lacy, Helen Sung, E.J. Strickland, Dezron Douglas, Brandee Younger, Doobie Powell, Musiq Soulchild, Feya Faku, Jonathan Barber, Billy Pierce and many others.

Reading The Signs

An Exploration in Score Study and Repertoire

Instructor: Cailin Marcel Manson

This course presents students with an eclectic spread of concert music repertoire, inviting them to recognize both the obvious and subtle features of a score. Students will practice the skills of critical and analytical listening, reflect about what they perceive aurally, and pair these reflections with discussions on context and analysis to inform their own ideas about interpretation.

Each week will contain both an online lecture/discussion and a supplemental watching or listening list. The lecture will focus on two or three pieces of orchestral literature joined by theme. The supplemental list will contain a brief video/audio playlist for students to discuss during the weekly online session, in juxtaposition to the week’s presented pieces.

Class size limit: 15
Offered Sundays 6:00 PM (10/18, 10/25, 11/1, and 11/8)
Tuition: $60.00


PDF for Printing

Reading The Signs: An Exploration in Score Study and Repertoire


Students are expected to come to each lecture prepared with:

  • Journaled thoughts about the weekly supplemental list
  • Readiness to listen and learn from each other
  • Openness and good humor

Any materials necessary for the study prescribed within the course will be distributed digitally.

reparatory Watching:
Herbert von Karajan in Rehearsal with the Wiener Symphoniker
Robert Schumann – Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120

Week One: The Symphony through Differing Lenses

Lecture Pieces:
Franz Joseph Haydn – Symphony No. 96 in D Major. “Miracle.” Hob. I:96 – Movement IV
Sergei Prokofiev – Symphony No. 1, “Classical,” Op. 25 – Movement I

Supplemental Listening:
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Symphony No. 35 in D Major, “Ha ner,” K. 385
Arnold Schoenberg – Chamber Symphony, Op. 9

Week Two: Music Inspired By Places and Cultures

Lecture Pieces:
Amy Beach – Symphony in E minor, “Gaelic,” Op. 32- Movement I
Felix Mendelssohn – Overture, “The Hebrides” or Fingal’s Cave
and Symphony 4 in A major, “Italian,” Op. 90 – Movement IV

Supplemental Listening:
Manuel de Falla – Noches en los jardines de España, G.49
Tan Dun – Symphony of Colors: Terracotta

Week Three: Music of Struggle, Grief and Triumph

Lecture Pieces:
Samuel Barber – Adagio for Strings, Op. 11
Florence Price – Symphony No. 4 in D minor- Movement IV
and Concert Overture No. 2

Supplemental Listening:
William Grant Still – And They Lynched Him On a Tree (documentary)
Adolphus Hailstork – Epitaph: For A Man Who Dreamed
George Walker – Lyric for Strings

Week Four: The Orchestra as Storyteller

Lecture Pieces:
Richard Wagner – Overture to Der Fliegende Holländer, WWV 63
Bela Bartok – The Miraculous Mandarin, Op. 19 – Opening and First Scene

Supplemental Listening:
Richard Strauss – Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32

About the Instructor: 

Cailin Marcel Manson, baritone and conductor, currently serves as Director of Choral Activities and Music Performance at Clark University, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Germantown Concert Chorus in Philadelphia, PA, Music Director of the Bennington County Choral Society in Vermont, Music Director of BARN OPERA in Vermont, and Music Director of The Keene Chorale in New Hampshire. Mr. Manson studied voice performance at Temple University, and opera performance and orchestral conducting at the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg.

Beginning Music Theory

Instructor: Peter Hoyle

Designed for students who are not yet comfortable with the fundamentals of music theory, this class will familiarize the student with music’s basic structure. In this class we will cover the foundational elements of music theory, and work to discover why music sounds the way it does. Students will learn about the different chords and scales that make up western music. Bring your instruments, pencils, music paper, and get ready to learn the basics that make up all of music theory!

Class size limit: 15
Offered Sundays 7:15 PM (10/18, 10/25, 11/1, and 11/8)
Tuition: $60.00


PDF for Printing

Beginning Music Theory

Class 1: The Mega Staff!

  • Course introduction
  • Student introductions
  • 12 notes
  • Intervals
  • The Mega Staff

Class 2: Dance, sing, play

  • Major & Minor chords
  • Major scales
  • Dance, sing, play

Class 3: Music is made of thirds

  • Chords and major scale review
  • Arpeggios
  • Intro to 7th chords

Class 4: How to play beautiful music with just white keys

  • 7th chords(major, dominant, minor)
  • The circle of fifths
  • 14736251 progression

About the Instructor: 

Peter Hoyle is a trumpeter and educator from West Hartford, Connecticut. His love for music began at a very young age through the influence of his father, a French hornist and lifelong educator. Since then, rhythm, melody, and harmony guided Peter’s every step. In high school, Peter excelled in both classical and jazz music. He spent a summer at the Kinhaven Music School, performed in the Connecticut All-State jazz and concert bands, and held the solo trumpet chair with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra during his senior year. Peter graduated from the Juilliard School in 2020 with a Diploma where he studied under Raymond Mase. Finally, in 2019 Peter started working at the Jazz at Lincoln Center Middle School Jazz Academy as a trumpet teacher and academy assistant. He is now spending his time cultivating his artistry, teaching, and composing.