Overview

Founded in 1914 as a school of music, Cornish College of the Arts has a distinguished tradition of educating performing musicians. Our faculty is drawn from the leading musical institutions of Seattle as well as active performers and creators in many different musical disciplines.

Whether your primary interest is jazz, instrumental performance, vocal arts, or composition, you’re free to explore established works and new compositions in a variety of genres—on campus and in the Seattle community—from chamber music to tango, baroque to blues, opera to jazz, and beyond. Our alumni pursue careers or graduate study in virtually every facet of music performance, composition, and education around the globe.

Letter from the Chair

Cornish is more than a conservatory; rather, I like to think of Cornish as a music “exploratory.”

Our distinguished faculty members are talented teachers and skilled interpreters, committed to bringing the past to life. But at Cornish — unlike conservatories — you’ll also find the faculty and your fellow students open to new ideas and experimentation. So, if you like to push the boundaries of what’s possible — musically, technically, artistically — Cornish just might be the place for you.

We’re seeking exceptional students. Talented musicians. Individuals interested in carrying on a tradition that started here when John Cage invented the prepared piano at Cornish seventy years ago, and that’s still alive today thanks to our top-notch faculty in jazz, classical, and world music.

Maybe you’re a classical violinist who likes to improvise, or a jazz saxophonist who wants to take your music in a radically new direction, or simply someone who wants to explore what’s possible. The Cornish Music Department was created for people like you.

We offer Bachelor of Music degrees in instrumental performance, vocal performance and composition with emphases in both classical and jazz traditions. The program is small, with fewer than 150 students, selective, and with a student/teacher ratio of 5 to 1, designed to allow you to connect with the music faculty in ways just not possible at larger, impersonal institutions.

Cornish is a place that feels like home, set in the heart of Seattle, one of America’s most livable cities. A program intended for today’s musician, taught by a faculty of working professionals, designed to prepare you for the future, not the past.

Come play a part.

Kent Devereaux
Professor of Composition
Music Department Chair


Concentrations

No matter which program of study you elect to pursue, you’ll receive highly personalized training through weekly, hour-long individual lessons with a primary artist/mentor. Read on to discover which program is right for you.

INSTRUMENTAL PERFORMANCE

The Cornish Music Department offers a Bachelor of Music curriculum in instrumental performance with a special focus on contemporary or classic chamber music. You’ll work closely with one of our faculty members to hone your craft while participating in a variety of mixed chamber ensembles, percussion, guitar, or string quartets. Cornish also offers you the additional opportunity of playing with any one of a number of Seattle orchestras.

VOCAL PERFORMANCE

The Cornish Music Department offers a Bachelor of Music curriculum in vocal performance with special emphasis on contemporary, classical, or early music repertoire. Students may also elect to pursue a course of study in vocal jazz through the jazz program. Whatever path you choose, you’ll benefit from the highly personalized training and individualized attention that has remained a hallmark of Cornish’s intimate, intensive, performance-oriented program. Every year classical vocal students have the opportunity to audition for and perform in two fully staged, professional opera productions as well as a number of other vocal ensembles.

JAZZ

The Cornish Music Department offers a Bachelor of Music curriculum in jazz with programs of study in three focus areas: instrumental performance, vocal jazz, and composition. If jazz or other creative improvised music is your passion, Cornish offers you the chance to sharpen your skills in our Latin, bebop, fusion, free jazz or contemporary big band ensembles. Jazz vocalists gain valuable experience through immersion in an intensive program focused on learning the jazz vocal repertoire and developing the skills necessary to create their own arrangements. You’ll work closely with Cornish faculty members, who not only coach all ensembles, but play in them too, contributing valuable insight gained through their real-world experience touring, recording and performing as professional, practicing artists. Learn more about jazz.

COMPOSITION

The Cornish Music Department offers a Bachelor of Music in Composition. As a composition student you may explore jazz, classical, electronic, or other musical traditions from around the world as sources of inspiration. You’ll be invited to explore private instruction in a broad range of styles and skills-based and survey courses that offer a chance for collaboration and feedback. These include classes in advanced harmony, counterpoint, 20th and 21st century techniques, orchestration, arranging, music notation, songwriting, electronic music, and digital audio recording techniques. students who otherwise might be admitted to Cornish as vocal or instrumental performance students but who also want to pursue in-depth studies in composition may want to inquire about the Composer/Performer concentration.


Curriculum

The Cornish Music Department offers a Bachelor of Music curriculum with concentrations in Instrumental Performance, Vocal Performance, Jazz, or Composition. Students receive highly personalized training through weekly, hour-long individual lessons with a primary artist/mentor as well as public performance opportunities throughout all four years.


Music Degree Requirements

MUSIC MODEL PROGRAM

Model Programs are updated at the beginning of each academic year. This PDF contains the current year’s model programs for this program. Students should refer to the model program that was in effect for the year and term of their entrance to Cornish. View archived catalogs and model programs.

Music Course Descriptions

​Music courses develop a broad knowledge of the practice, theory,history, and production of music, with different areas of expertise expected of students in each of the three majors (instrumental, vocal, and composition) and in specific areas of concentration. Individual instruction begins in the first year so students will develop technical mastery of an instrument or voice or control of compositional technique.

Course descriptions are updated at the beginning of each academic year. For this year and previous years, please refer to the online archive of catalogs

Music Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate proficiency in general musicianship—piano skills, sight-reading, sight-singing, rhythmic skills, and theory
  • Development of technical mastery of an instrument or voice; control of compositional technique
  • Broad knowledge of the practice, theory, history, and production of music, with different areas of expertise expected of students in each of the three majors (instrumental, vocal, and composition) and in specific areas of concentration
  • Development of a sense of artistic self—not just knowing how to make the music, but knowing why one is making it
  • Understanding of the business skills necessary to support one’s artistic life
  • Stylistically versatile performance skills and openness to experimentation and innovation
  • Respect for traditional forms and ways of making music across a range of styles
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, including the ability to critique one’s own work and that of one’s colleagues constructively
  • Excellent collaborative skills, including constructive interpersonal rehearsal and management techniques
  • Highly developed critical thinking skills
  • Capacity for self-reflection and integration of diverse knowledge areas
  • Rigorous work ethic and self-discipline

Faculty & Staff


Instrumental Faculty:

  • Kofi Anang
  • John Carrington
  • Brian Chin
  • Peggy Dees
  • Mara Gearman
  • Brent Hages
  • Jeff Hay
  • Jennifer Hinkle
  • Joe Kaufman
  • Matt Kocmieroski
  • Seth Krimsky
  • Martin Kuuskmann
  • Paige Stockley Lerner
  • Michael Jinsoo Lim
  • Roger Nelson
  • Michael Nicolella
  • Margie Pos
  • Julian Priester
  • David Ritt
  • Mark Robbins
  • Murl Allen Sanders
  • Adam Stern
  • Stephen Stubbs
  • Paul Taub
  • Hans F Teuber
  • Ben Thomas
  • Jay Thomas
  • Cristina Valdes
  • Tom Varner

Administration:

  • Megan Campbell-Miller
  • Kent Devereaux
  • Alek Edmonds
  • Francisco Orozco
  • Frank Phillips

Composition Faculty:

  • Tom Baker
  • Steve Barsotti
  • Emily Doolittle
  • Janice Giteck
  • Gretta Harley
  • Wayne Horvitz
  • Eyvind Kang
  • Jim Knapp
  • Jovino Santos Neto
  • Jarrad Powell

Early Music Faculty:

  • Vicki Boeckman
  • Tekla Cunningham
  • Jillon Stoppels Dupree
  • Maxine Eilander
  • Kris Kwapis
  • Anna Mansbridge
  • Ingrid Matthews
  • Byron Schenkman
  • Janet See
  • Stephen Stubbs
  • Margriet Tindemans
  • Nathan Whittaker
  • Nancy Zylstra

Jazz Faculty:

  • Tim Carey
  • Dawn Clement
  • Paul de Barros
  • Chuck Deardorf
  • Becca Duran
  • Gary Gibson
  • Randy Halberstadt
  • Jeff Hay
  • Wayne Horvitz
  • Eyvind Kang
  • Johnaye Kendrick
  • Jim Knapp
  • Jovino Santos Neto
  • Margie Pos
  • Julian Priester
  • Murl Allen Sanders
  • Chris Spencer
  • Hans F Teuber
  • Ben Thomas
  • Jay Thomas
  • Tom Varner
  • Beth Winter

Voice Faculty:

  • Michael Delos
  • Becca Duran
  • John Duykers
  • Kelly Harland
  • Johnaye Kendrick
  • Jessika Kenney
  • Natalie Lerch
  • Cyndia Sieden
  • Kathryn Weld
  • Beth Winter

Resources

FACILITIES

Music classes take place in the studios and classrooms at Kerry Hall, an historical landmark in the popular Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Productions are presented on campus in two black box studio theaters, as well as the larger flexible Ned and Kayla Skinner Theater in the Raisbeck Performance Hall, the PONCHO Concert Hall/Theater in Kerry Hall, and the Cornish Playhouse at the Seattle Center. Off-campus performance venues have included the Broadway Performance Hall on Capitol Hill.


News & Events

Music Alumni Accomplishments

Cornish students are routinely accepted into many of the top graduate music programs in the nation including Northwestern University, New England Conservatory, Yale University, University of Michigan, University of Illinois, and Indiana University.

Some graduates pursue teaching careers; others pursue performance careers. Graduates have signed with major record labels, been nominated for Grammys, and toured regularly.