Are you an aspiring or early-career musical theater creator? IAMT is proud to offer the country’s first Musical Theater Creation certificate program, an innovative 2-year intensive experience for composers, lyricists, librettists, and directors of musical theater.
Led by Kleban-Award-winning lyricist-librettist Sam Carner, this program will offer you mentorship by some of New York’s top musical theater developers and introduce you to other passionate and talented young writers, composers, directors (and hyphenates), a community of collaborators with whom to enter the business. With a direct affiliation to the IAMT performance program, you’ll also work closely and regularly with a diverse group of talented young performers who can help give expression and voice to your work--both within the program and beyond.
The program balances a dedication to treating you as your own unique artist with a commitment to providing you with a solid framework in the history and present of musical theater structure and style.
Over the course of the two-year program, you’ll be involved in the creation and development of many musical theater songs and scenes, all culminating in your own complete musical. Through varied collaborations and intimate fundamental training, you’ll develop your technical tool-kit, enrich your understanding of the musical theater form as a whole, learn important practical and bankable skills for making a living in the business, and hone your own distinct creative voice.
Musical theater is one of the world’s most collaborative art-forms, demanding that artists with widely different specialties develop a common language. So, while we give you tools and time to specialize in the specific aspect of musical theater that most excites you, we’ll also give you training in far-reaching aspects of the form, giving you the knowledge you need to work meaningfully with your fellow creators.
Our full-time 2-year certificate program will begin in the fall of 2021. Can’t wait until then? Check out our a la carte online courses beginning this February.
Scroll through for FAQs and more information on our program.
Who will my teachers be?
Alongside Sam Carner, our esteemed faculty will include composer-lyricist Adam Gwon (Ordinary Days, Scotland PA), composer Anna K. Jacobs (Pop, Teeth), Lonny Price (A Class Act, Best Worst Thing That Could Ever Have Happened, Company, Sweeney Todd), composer Derek Gregor (Unlock’d, Island Song), musical supervisor Brad Haak (Mary Poppins, Daddy Long Legs), director Marlo Hunter (American Reject, Saved By the Bell: the Musical), musical director Andy Collopy (Lightning Thief), and many other Broadway professionals still being confirmed.
What classes will you offer?
The full array of classes and units are still being determined—and will continue to develop over the course of the 2 years, but they will include:
-Musical Theater Creation Workshop (a weekly collaborative lab)
-Musical Theater Book Writing, Structure, and Aesthetics
-Music Composition for Words People
-Working With Performers
-Logistics and Approaches to Creative Development
-Music Business / Business of Musical Theatre
Additional attention will be paid to more philosophical and political questions of being a creative artist in our current moment as well as other fundamentals of musical theater.
What will the academic calendar be?
This 2-year program will be comprised of four 15-week semesters, commensurate with traditional academic calendars (fall semester running from August 30 through December 17, spring semester running from January 20 through May 27). The second-year may extend into late spring, depending on the presentation details of final projects.
What will the class schedule be?
The class schedule is subject to slight changes every week, as the experience will be a combination of full-semester classes and shorter units. Generally speaking, the classes would be held Monday nights (5:30-10 or 11), Tuesday nights (5:30-10 or 11), some Wednesday evenings (5:30-7 or 8), Thursday nights (5:30-10 or 11), and Sunday daytimes (10-4 or 5).
What sort of portfolio will I come out of the program with?
You can expect to leave the program with a 2nd draft of a full-length musical (created collaboratively in a 2-3-person team), a collaborative 20-30-minute one-act musical, and a number of “trunk songs” from various assignments, some of which could stand alone for cabarets and concerts. You can also expect to have a handful of partially-developed material from exercises that can be developed into more complete material in your own time.
What opportunities does IAMT Creators currently provide to get my work out in the world?
What degree does the program offer?
The program currently offers a certificate of completion.
How much does the program cost?
Annual tuition is $18,000 per year.
Is financial aid/scholarships available?
IAMT can offer student loans/tuition with financing options directly through the Institute. We also offer a limited number of need-based partial scholarships available on a first-come first-served basis.
I have been taking or plan to take IAMT Creators Online courses. Will I receive tuition credit for the full-time program?
Yes. Any of your tuition from the 2020-2021 online year will be deducted from your tuition for our full-time program in 2021-2022.
Where will classes be held?
Classes will be held at the Institute for American Musical Theatre, 3835 Broadway 2nd Floor @ 160th St. in Washington Heights.
Is housing available?
IAMT has a relationship with Bohemia Realty who can help you to find nearby apartments at significantly reduced brokers fees. Students often end up spending $700-800 per month for apartments that are shared with fellow IAMT creator students or students from the Musical Theatre program and they are all within walking distance of the school.
What will the workload be?
Some individual classes will have moderate reading, listening, and small exercises, amounting to as much as 2-3 hours of work per class per week (often much less). The most significant work will be collaborative assignments, which will be presented each week. The time commitment for each of these assignments is quite variable, but it would be wise to budget 15-25 hours in time for collaboration, individual work, and rehearsal/preparation.
Can I have a job while in the program?
It would certainly be possible to have a part-time job while in the program, and you will not have class during weekday daytimes, Fridays, or Saturdays. However, given the combination of 20+ hours of weekly class time and 20+ hours of out-of-class work, maintaining a full-time job will be a real challenge.
Is there an application fee?
We charge a $50 application fee to help cover the cost of review by a 3-person panel of industry professionals. N.B. There is no fee to register for our spring 2021 online curriculum.
When is the application deadline?
We have a rolling admissions policy, but spots will fill up; our suggested application deadline is March 1, 2021. That said, we will continue to accept applications until our class is filled or July 15, 2021 (for the class entering that August).
Is there any advantage to applying early?
We have a limited number of need-based partial scholarships, available on a first-come first-served basis. Accordingly, we encourage students to get their applications in as soon as possibly and definitely by March 1, 2021.
Do I need musical theatre experience to apply to the program?
You do not need to have written musicals or to have performed in musicals to complete this program, so long as you have a significant interest in creating the form and understand that musical theatre does involve a number of conventions that you will be expected to master over the course of the 2-year experience.
Am I expected to attend all classes? Can I take this program remotely?
Given the collaborative nature of much of the work, you will be expected to be in town and available in person for all classes and projects. We certainly understand that emergencies and important opportunities come up and can accommodate a very limited number of absences, but these will need to be approved and negotiated. Frequent absences will result in dismissal from the program.
What will the academic calendar be?
This 2-year program will be comprised of four 15-week semesters, commensurate with traditional academic calendars. The second-year may extend into late spring, depending on the presentation details of final projects.
I have been taking or want to take your online 2020-2021 classes? Does this mean that I will be repeating classes in the fall?
We will be working hard to ensure that no one has a redundant experience. Accordingly, we will offer a number of “electives” to replace courses you have already taken. In limited situations, where we believe repeating a course in person will not be redundant, we may ask you to take a similarly-titled course again.
I guess my question isn’t “frequently asked,” because I don’t see it here. What do I do now?
Email us any other questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Top-Level Industry Faculty on the Cutting Edge of the Business
Our teachers have won all the top awards in musical theatre writing and are all working at the highest level of the business, both on and off-Broadway. They care deeply about musical theater and creating what’s next in the field--and they’re doing it right now. But they also care passionately about teaching and their students. IAMT Creators provides faculty with a unique combination of creative genius, analytical skills, and passion for paying it forward.
Unique Affiliation With the IAMT Performing Program
Our program allows a weekly opportunity to work with the next generation of musical theatre performers—students at the IAMT performance program—to develop your work. Not only do you get the chance to hear and understand your work through the instruments of talented young singers, but you’ll also be making connections with Broadway’s next generation and developing your own skills in working with singers.
Affordable Full-Time Program
Other musical theater writing programs charge more than twice what we do for tuition or provide a once-a-week experience. We want to set you up for success now, and in the future; we are dedicated to providing our students a full immersion in the field while not saddling you with years of debt.
Ideal Program Size
Designed for a group of 12-20 students, we can give you all the hands-on personal attention you need while providing you with a large enough community of colleagues that you can find the collaborators you vibe best with. You won’t get lost in the shuffle, and you won’t be trapped on a “desert island.”
Collaboration Between Directors and Writers
Musical theatre creation is a collaboration that transcends words and music. The director adds an important guidance and vision, yet many directors in the business haven’t learned how to be part of the process. We’re working (a) to train the next generation of musical theater directors about how to collaborate with writers and (b) build connections now between writers and directors who can enrich the work.
Bankable, Practical, and Critical Thinking Skills
Although the program’s primary focus is to training you as a musical theater creator, we’ll also provide you with tools to make a living in the business and navigate life as a creative—and we’ll also foster analytical and critical thinking skills that will enrich all aspects of your life and career.
IAMT Creators is offering a selection of a la carte online courses this spring. Our term will run 12 weeks from February 1 through April 30, with the week of March 15 off.
Course: Musical Theater Lyric Writing I
Instructor: Adam Gwon
Day/Time: Tuesdays 6:30-8:30pm
Description: This 12-week class will cover the foundations of lyric writing—including song structure, scansion, and rhyme—and how to apply your storytelling impulses most effectively to the lyric medium. You’ll examine classic musical theater song forms; analyze great lyrics and what makes them successful; and explore how music, book, and collaborators can be considered in the lyric writing process. Through a series of writing assignments, you’ll gain a solid foundation in lyrical storytelling and the tools to be a stronger dramatist and collaborator.
Course: Freelance Artist’s Manifesto and the Business of Musical Theatre
Instructor: Marlo Hunter
Day/Time: Wednesdays 6:00-8:00
Description: An indispensable source of education and inspiration for students poised to pursue their passion, this course provides you with mental and practical tools for mastering life as a freelancer and navigating the business of musical theater. This workshop takes the mystery and fear out of life as an artist, helps students address mental blocks, learn how to utilize their multiple assets, and avoid the most common pitfalls that hinder artists and create unnecessary doubt. In the first half of the term, students are armed with logistical knowledge, laying a firm foundation for networking, creating a healthier relationship with self-promotion, simplifying freelance-budgeting, credit, health care options, filing taxes as an artist, and the most efficient search for supplemental income. The second half will equip students with an understanding of the non-profit and for-profit theater scene, licensing, the taxonomy of any professional production and assembling the right team, what exactly a producer does and how to approach them, grant writing, and more. It’s the stuff no one takes the time to tell you, that you absolutely need to know!
Course: “Who Am I As a Creator?” (4-week module)
Instructor: Troy Anthony Burton
Day/Time: Wednesdays 6:30pm-8:30pm in February
Description: An exploration of the "y" in storytelling that aims to help us understand our aesthetics, values, and priorities as creators and audience members. What stories are we compelled to tell? What tools do we have to tell them? Who is allowed to tell what stories? These are some of the questions that we will begin to explore in our time together.
Course: Storytelling and Song Structure (8-week module)
Instructor: Heath Saunders
Day/Time: Section 1: Wednesdays 6:30-8:30pm in March and April / Section 2: Thursdays 8:30-10:30pm in March and April.
Description: Much of the work of crafting musical theater is based exclusively in plot structure and character development, but there’s a tool that composers have in their storytelling toolbox that is rarely touched on explicitly: song structure. From the most basic ternary song form, to far more intricate compound structures found in contemporary popular music, song structure has myriad practical implementations for the musical theater composer. In this 8-week course, we’ll explore a brief history of modern song structure, and experiment with theatrical applications of basic compositional and songwriting forms.
N.B. Although music will be discussed, this course is open to students with varied levels of musical training.
Course: Music Composition I
Instructor: Anna K. Jacobs
Day/Time: Thursdays 6:30-9:00pm running from April 8 through June 24
Description: Over the course of twelve online classes, students will explore how music is its own language, with the power to develop stories and characters, imbue the abstract with meaning, and enrich the representational with abstractness. At the same time, students will also build skills in music notation, digital composition, form and scansion, and arranging. Students will synthesize their learning in weekly creative assignments, and the course will culminate in the creation and sharing of a group project.
Course: Music Composition II
Instructor: Brad Haak and Julie McBride
Day/Time: Thursdays 6:30-8:30pm
Description: This twelve-week course will examine local and global elements of score construction and musical storytelling. Focus will be given to different musical genres and their dramaturgical use, adapting musical textures to dramatic moments, and larger-scale issues such as stating and developing musical themes across an entire show.
Course: Ear Training and Dictation (8-week 1-hour module)
Instructor: Andy Collopy
Day/Time: Thursdays 6:30-7:30pm in February and March
Description: Improve your ear and musicianship through guided drills and exercises.
Course: Finale (4-week module)
Instructor: Andy Collopy
Day/Time: Thursdays 6:30-8:30 in April
Description: Work with Broadway and Off-Broadway musical director Andy Collopy to gain proficiency in this industry-standard music processing program.
Course: Musical Theater Book Writing, Structure, and Aesthetics I
Instructor: Sam Carner
Day/Time: Fridays 6:00-8:00
Description: How are musicals different from plays or movies? How does adaptation work? What is the real function of songs in a musical? Are there any non-negotiable plot points? Why is romance such a common theme in musicals? Through reading and discussion of classic musical theater libretti and analytical texts, alongside regular assignments in outlining and song placement, we will examine how musicals really work and interrogate common (mis)conceptions about the form. Without seeking any magic bullets, we will identify trends in musical theater’s history and present, asking ourselves what an audience expects when attending a musical and how to find room for something new.
Instructor: Stephanie Ruozzo
Day/Time: Fridays 6:00-8:00pm
Description: In the more than four centuries since opera’s inception, aesthetic values have shifted vastly and often. In this course, we explore the ways composers have related to staged drama and their realizations of musical storytelling. Each session takes a canonic masterwork as a representative example and starting point for deeper discussion of the challenges dramaturgs face when conveying drama in highly stylized forms. We will consider the practical problems that each composer/librettist team faced in their creative process and the innovative ways in which they confront those problems musically. Though we interpret drama musically in the course, it will be equally accessible to writers and musicians.
We’re offering a tiered pricing structure, outlined below.
1st course ~ $750 / semester
2nd course ~ $500 / semester ($1,250 total for 2 courses)
3rd course ~ $450 / semester ($1,700 total for 3 courses)
4th course ~ $400 / semester ($2,100 total for 4 courses)
5th course ~ $350 / semester ($2,450 total for 5 courses)
*Members of musicalwriters.com MainStage Academy are eligible to receive a $50 discount per course.
The 4-week modules and are a flat $200
The 8-week 1-hour Ear Training and Dictation module is a flat $250
The 8-week Song Form module is a flat $400
For those moving on to attend the full-time certificate program in the fall of 2021, all of this year’s tuition will be deducted next year’s tuition (i.e. a student spending $2,500 in tuition this year will get $2,500 credited toward next year’s tuition).