Idyllwild Arts Academy


Let Us Take You to the Highest Level

At Idyllwild Arts Academy, music is about the personal touch. The size of the Music Department is ideal for a high school: big enough to give developing classical artists many chances to perform—both in our orchestra and in chamber ensembles—and yet small enough to guarantee plenty of individual attention and instruction for every student. Our curriculum includes private lessons with musicians who are not only gifted university teachers, but successful professionals with Southern California’s world-class symphonies and recording studios. These teachers will be close to you only because Idyllwild is so close to Los Angeles and San Diego, where some of your own performances will take place. Idyllwild’s jazz musicians grow in the personal care of experienced professionals who have worked with legends like Miles Davis and Frank Zappa, and our songwriters learn from Elektra Records musicians who have both studio and publishing experience. Make beautiful music with us and start your own legend.

Classical Music Program

Students who study classical music at Idyllwild Arts can focus on Classical Instrumental (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, percussion, violin, viola, cello, bass, and guitar), Classical Piano, and Classical Voice.

Classical Instrumental

Giving individual attention to the artistic growth of our instrumentalists is a promise that our Classical Music program takes seriously. Southern California’s dynamic music scene gives Idyllwild instrumentalists access to private lessons with outstanding professionals. Passionate teaching and frequent performances allow our students to become the musicians they dream of being.

Our classical instrumentalists are not overwhelmed by the number of their fellow students. But the talent and dedication that our instrumentalists find here inspire all of them. We offer the opportunity to play in chamber ensembles, and also in an orchestra whose excellence has been recognized by the chance to perform world premieres by an honor roll of distinguished composers, including Richard Danielpour, Ezra Laderman, and Bruce Adolphe.

Artists of this quality write for our Classical program because they know that our musicians will do justice to their work. Gifted conductors like Leonard Slatkin, Jorge Mester, and our current Music Director, Timothy Verville, have guided our students.

Classical Piano

Our classical piano department is one of the strongest at our school. Students study with Dr. Douglas Ashcraft, Dr. Jeanette Louise Yaryan, and Parvati Mani, all of whom are active performers and have a vast, diverse background as teaching artists.

Our selective and small department allows for extremely close, individualized instruction with faculty. Each student is assigned to one of our artist-faculty as their primary teacher, but also receive coaching and feedback from the other piano faculty. Idyllwild Arts piano majors receive weekly private lessons on their classical repertoire. They also are assigned to classical vocal and instrumental partners, and receive individual and group coaching on their collaborative repertoire, and have numerous opportunities to perform throughout the year. Some of these opportunities include performing on our Music Department Showcase concerts, Chamber Music recitals, the annual Idyllwild Arts Gala in Los Angeles, and our department’s PianoFest, a longstanding and celebrated tradition of our school. Additionally, opportunities exist for students to learn how to play with choir, Musical Theatre students, and participate in multidisciplinary projects.

We encourage and prepare our students for competitions and festivals throughout the United States and abroad. Many of our students have won the school-wide concerto competition, awarding them the opportunity to perform with our orchestra. Numerous guest artists have come to perform and give masterclasses over the years, including faculty from the Cleveland Institute of Music, University of Southern California, Indiana University, Oberlin Conservatory, North Carolina School of the Arts, the Eastman School of Music, and the Colburn Conservatory.

This cohesive pre-collegiate training for students sets our program apart from other performing arts schools in the nation. Our students have gone on to study at some of the best institutions in the world, including the Juilliard School, the Eastman School of Music, the Colburn Conservatory, the New England Conservatory, Oberlin Conservatory, and Yale University. Alumni of our piano department currently enjoy a broad range of international performing and teaching careers.

Classical Faculty
Music Department Chair
Violin Faculty
Orchestra Director and Director of Chamber Music
Flute Faculty
Bassoon Faculty
Oboe Faculty
Music Faculty
Piano Faculty
Clarinet Faculty
Bass Faculty
Viola Faculty
Orchestra Manager / Music Faculty / Dorm Parent
Music Faculty
Horn Faculty
Cello Faculty
Piano Instructor / Dorm Parent
AEL Intern - Music Faculty / Dorm Parents
Music Faculty / Lower Wayne Dorm Head
Voice Faculty - Classical Voice
Jazz Program

The Idyllwild Arts Jazz Program was founded by the internationally acclaimed bassist, pianist, and composer Marshall Hawkins. Marshall Hawkins has performed extensively throughout his career with some of the leading artists of all time, including Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Shirley Horn, and the Manhattan Transfer. His background provides a cohesive wealth of experience that has established him as a dearly loved mentor to countless musicians. He co-founded the annual Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines Festival with Barbara Wood in 1994. The Idyllwild Arts Academy Jazz Program is led by Mr. Hawkins and Saxophonist Paul Carman.

Mr. Carman is a veteran of the Frank Zappa Band of the late 1980’s (in Frank’s own words, “The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life.”) He toured with Zappa and recorded on the aforementioned CD plus “Make a Jazz Noise Here”, “Broadway the Hardway”, and several other Zappa compilations. Other artists Paul has played and recorded with include Kei Akagi, Vinny Golia, Bruce Fowler, Larry Koonse, Chad Wackerman, Kim Richmond, Brad Dutz, as well as the usual list of show band types (ie. Dick Dale and the Del Tones).

The jazz department prepares high school students as performers, improvisers and arrangers. Performance opportunities include jazz combos, jazz ensemble, and vocal jazz ensemble. Our program is steeped in traditional and progressive jazz studies which include improvisation, rhythm section skills, and technique, that allow for a specialized education in both solo and ensemble playing. Our award-winning combos perform at festivals including Berklee and Reno Jazz Festivals. These performance groups are balanced with a curriculum of jazz theory, history, improvisation, and computer music applications. The jazz department also includes a major in Jazz Voice. Vocal students perform with combos and in the jazz vocal ensemble. All of the students in the jazz department receive weekly private instruction on their main instrument, a combo lesson, jazz theory class, and jazz history class. The department also offers rhythm section classes for piano, guitar, bass, and drums.

Jazz Faculty
Music Department Chair
Jazz Faculty - Jazz Bass
Jazz Faculty - Saxophone
Songwriting Program

The Songwriting Program at Idyllwild Arts is the first of its kind in the US! Our program offers songwriters an intensive curriculum in the genres of popular music. Our high school students develop and hone their skills in lyric, melodic, and harmonic writing. The courses nurture students in creating and developing their own style while also exposing them to other styles and genres.

Songwriting majors take classes in Music Theory and Music History as well as private instruction in piano, voice, or guitar. We present 3 performances a year and juniors and seniors must also present solo shows.

Songwriting Faculty
Music Department Chair
Guitar Instructor - Songwriting
Vocal Program

The Idyllwild Arts Academy’s Music Department Vocal Program is rooted in providing fundamental training for young vocalists in both popular and classical styles. Students will have private lessons in classical and jazz technique and will be provided opportunities to perform in a variety of singing styles. Courses in our vocal program include Chamber Choir, Vocal Jazz Techniques and Performance, Art Song Repertoire, Opera Scenes and special topics courses.

Audition Requirements

The Music Department prepares talented musicians for successful professional careers. The faculty auditions serious and talented young classical, songwriting and jazz musicians from around the world. Private instruction is offered by the finest teachers and performers in Southern California. Instrumentalists participate in orchestra and small ensembles; pianists study piano literature, keyboard skills, accompanying and ensemble playing. Jazz students work on improvising and playing in combos while developing their own style. Guitarists can participate in jazz ensembles. Singers study diction, ensemble singing, and the history of the art song and opera. Songwriters study both performance and business aspects of their field. All students meet and hear guest artists perform and participate in master classes.

Candidates for the Music major are encouraged to audition during their campus visit. If a live audition is not possible, students must submit an American format DVD or provide an online audition on a site such as YouTube containing the following:

Classical Piano:

Three prepared pieces representing contrasting styles from the standard repertoire. All works must be performed from memory.

Classical Orchestral Instruments:

2-3 prepared pieces representing contrasting styles. For auditions on campus, you may choose to bring your own pianist, but it is not required. We will not provide a pianist for you.


2-4 original songs with words (and also, if you wish, 1-2 cover songs performed instrumentally and sung to show arranging/interpreting skills). Auditions must be filmed on an American formatted DVD or uploaded to YouTube or another online streaming website.

Jazz Piano and Instrument:

Three prepared pieces from memory: a blues, a standard and a jazz standard. Students are asked to demonstrate knowledge of scales, inversions and chords.


One song or aria from the classical repertoire which illustrates the student’s range. Also, one jazz song from the following list:

Jazz Voice

  1. Autumn Leaves
  2. My Funny Valentine
  3. Girl From Ipanema
  4. Night and Day
  5. My One and Only Love
  6. It Could Happen To You
  7. Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado)
  8. Alice In Wonderland
  9. Bye Bye Blackbird
  10. Route 66

Classical Voice

  • A selection from the book 24 Italian Songs and Arias
  • A selection from the First Book of Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone / Bass
  • Handel
  • Mozart
  • Schubert

For auditions on campus, you may choose to bring your own pianist, or we can provide one for you. If you plan to work with one of our pianists, please make sure your audition pieces are submitted no later than two weeks prior to your audition, with all of your tempos and expressive markings clearly written in the score.

At the audition, we are interested in seeing the applicant’s level of accomplishment and musical knowledge. Students will be asked to perform any technical studies they are studying, major and minor scales. All students are asked to sight-read and demonstrate their knowledge of music theory. In addition to the above skills, jazz students are asked to improvise.

An optional Composition Focus is available to all Classical Music majors.

For specific questions regarding the Classical Music admission process, please contact:
Kelly Wills at 951.659.2171 x2341 or

For specific questions regarding the Jazz and Songwriting Music admission process, please contact:
Christy Wilke at 951.659.2171 x2223 or