Collective Composition

August 4-10, 2019
A pathway to developing student creativity
Professional Development

Application Deadline: April 30th, 2019

Notification: May 15th, 2019

2019 Registration Closed

Join us for one week to learn about Collective Composition, a pedagogical approach that facilitates student improvisation as a basic building block of the compositional process. An intensive and interactive residency led by Dan Trahey, Artistic Director of Baltimore Symphony’s OrchKids and his team, this program is embedded in Longy’s annual Sistema Summer Academy which convenes young musicians from Massachusetts’ El Sistema-inspired and community-based programs to collaborate, perform and compose together.

During immersive daytime sessions, participants experience the process side-by-side with high school and junior high students, with daily follow-up time to reflect upon and deconstruct the day’s activities.

In just one week, teachers acquire the skills to incorporate student improvisation into their ensembles and classrooms to create new compositions. The week culminates in a public performance to showcase our new works, the outcome of everyone’s participation and collective contribution—teachers and students alike. Topics include: facilitation of improvisation, decision making on-the-fly, the progressive process of collaboration, and how to tap into students’ intrinsic motivation to create.

Each day begins with collaborative planning and ends in a debrief. During these meetings, participants ask questions and learn how to adapt the process to fit their specific classroom/ensemble needs.


If you have any questions regarding the Collective Composition Summer Experience or how to apply, please contact:

Director of Music and Social Change Programs:
Monique Van Willingh – mvanwillingh(at)

Manager of Educational Initiatives:
Ryan Welsh – rwelsh(at)

Please note: Non-US citizens are required to secure the appropriate visa. Please see Longy’s page for International Student Policies for more information.

Certificate of Completion

Candidates who have actively participated and completed the Collective Composition Summer Program receive a Certificate of Completion for 40 contact hours of professional development.


Participants who need accommodation can stay in the dorms at Lesley University, which is approximately a 5-minute walk from Longy. According to demand housing can be arranged at Lesley University. Learn more

Further options:


Full – $800
Early bird – $750 (deposit is made by May 1, 2019)
Current/incoming Longy Student – $400
Current/incoming Longy Student Early Bird – $350 (deposit is made by May 1, 2019)

The tuition fee covers:

  • Instruction
  • Full Immersion in Summer Academy Collective Composition Process
  • Observation of Side by Side Full Orchestra Rehearsals (Optional)
  • Lunch

*Financial assistance is available for current Longy Students (Cambridge and MAT) and Longy Conservatory Graduates (Cambridge and MAT). A limited number of tuition discounts are available for teachers in El-Sistema-inspired programs. Please contact Monique Van Willingh (see “Questions” section on this page).

Introduction to Collaborative Composition

Sunday, August 4th, 2019, 2pm – 6pm (Dinner provided)

Typical Daily Schedule

8:00 – 8:45am  Planning Session
9:00 -­ 10:30am  Session One – Symphony Orchestra (Middle/High School)
10:30 – 10:40am  Snack Break
10:40am – 12:00pm  Session Two – Symphony Orchestra (Middle/High School)
12:00 – 1:00pm  Lunch Break
1:00 – 2:30pm  Session One – String Orchestra (Elementary/Middle School)
2:30 – 2:45pm  Snack Break
2:45 – 4:00pm  Session One – String Orchestra (Elementary/Middle School)
4:30 – 5:30pm  Daily Debrief

Please note that daily schedule is subject to change.

Dan Trahey, program leader

Dan TraheyDan Trahey is a musician, educator, and innovator. He was instrumental in the creation of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s “OrchKids” where he is Artistic Director. Dan also founded the El Sistema inspired program “Tuned In” at the Peabody Conservatory where he teaches creative composition and community engagement. Dan plays Tuba for the Archipelago Project and the Austria based RET Brass Band and has performed world-wide for hundreds of thousands of children, specifically targeting impoverished areas with little access to live performance. He has held orchestral positions in Mexico and the U.S. Dan’s work is documented by media outlets such as 60 Minutes, PBS, NPR, The N.Y. Times, and The Washington Post. He recently gave a TED talk at TEDX Baltimore and was named the Most Valuable Player in the Arts by Baltimore Magazine. Dan has taught at Baltimore School for the Arts, Idyllwild Arts, and UMBC where he teaches Music Entrepreneurship. Dan is a consultant for programs desiring to use music as a vehicle for social change. In addition to founding two El Sistema programs in Baltimore, Dan has helped start El Sistema inspired programs in Charlotte, Chicago, Ft.Worth, Innsbruck, Allentown, Waterbury, Alexandria, Kalamazoo, and others. He received a M.M. from Yale and a B.M.E from Peabody.