Students standing and kneeling in a group pose with holiday attire on.

Fellow composers and I during our club, Composers’ Collective, holiday mixer!

Embarking on a journey majoring in Music Theory and Composition at the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development is more than just learning about music. It’s about creating stories and emotions through sound. Although I share my own experiences, I feel a strong connection with everyone in this program. Whether we’re composing concert pieces, scoring the next blockbuster, or penning heartfelt songs, we’re all on an exciting path of discovery. The program offers three very unique paths for concentrations: concert composition, screen scoring, and songwriting.

Image of NYU Steinhardt logo and Music and Performing Arts Professions underneath the header text.

Concert Composition: From Mozart and Carnegie Hall to Arnold Schoenberg

Imagine your music performed by NYU ensembles, coming to life and resonating through the vibrant halls of New York City. The Music Theory and Composition: Concert Music program at NYU is tailored for those who are passionate about traditional and avant-garde concert music. Also, you will immerse yourself in rigorous academic studies in both music and liberal arts. As a result, you’ll hone your skills in music theory, analysis, history, and composition.

Here, music isn’t just studied—it’s lived. From exploring 16th-century counterpoint and classical music to integrating modernistic elements like technology into traditional orchestral pieces, you’ll learn a lot. Click here to learn more about the curriculum.

Screen Scoring: From Universal Pictures and John Williams to Disney

For those of you drawn to the magic of cinema, video games, and television, Music Theory and Composition: Screen Scoring is your gateway for exploration. Here, you will learn from internationally recognized composers, while exploring the depths of music composition, technology, and trends shaping music in media. At the same time, the curriculum offers extensive training in instrumentation, orchestration, and music technology. What’s more, you will have the opportunity to participate in scoring sessions and collaborate with filmmakers, which will further enhance your understanding of music in a narrative context. Explore the curriculum here.

Songwriting: From Sony Records and Taylor Swift to Beyoncé

The Music Theory and Composition: Contemporary Production and Songwriting program is a haven for those who want to express themselves through the power of melody and lyrics. After all, this program lets you write, develop, and refine your songs as you receive guidance from professional songwriters. You will delve into courses on songwriting history, studio production techniques, and the business structure of the music industry. Moreover, the curriculum includes one-on-one lessons with faculty, offering a personalized learning experience to perfect your craft. Interested in more? Take a peek at the curriculum

A collage of students in classrooms and onstage performing and studying music.
Music composition from Andrew Wang.
One of my composition class projects
Projection screen being set up for the Composers’ Collective concert
Setting up for the Composers’ Collective Concert
Point of view of a recording studio with notes and equipment visible.
Recording session for an orchestration class project!
Andrew and another student posing in the library stacks for a selfie.
A peer and I in the new music library at the Paulson Center.
Shared Courses

In NYU Steinhardt’s Music Composition and Theory program, you’ll dive into shared courses that are exciting, easy to understand, and tailored to your interests. Here’s a snapshot of relevant courses:

  • Music Theory: Surface to advanced concepts and compositions from throughout the world are tailored to whatever level you’re in.
  • Aural Skills: Sharpen your skills to musical nuances across the globe.
  • Keyboard Skills: Get piano lessons—the fundamental tool for all music.
  • Global Music History: Learn about global music with classes that are tailored to your concentration.
  • Music Technology: Stay ahead with the latest in music tech.
  • Music Business: Learn the ins and outs of the music industry.
  • Orchestration: Study the art of orchestration and learn about composing and arranging for various instruments.
  • Junior Experience (by concentration): Collaborate with others in your concentration and showcase your work.
  • Advanced Orchestration (by concentration): Specialize in composing, score, arranging, and studying complex pieces and instrumentation for all.
  • Composer’s Forum (by concentration): Join discussions and workshops with fellow composers, musicians, and artists. And yes! There are sometimes celebrities who stop by, such as someone from a major music recording or publishing company, a famous songwriter and artist, or sometimes it is simply a SURPRISE. 
  • Composition Private Lesson: Get personalized one-on-one sessions tailored to your focus area: every semester, once a week, for one hour. Shout-out to my private lesson professor Dr. Justin Dello Joio, a wonderful and extremely talented composer!

These courses are designed to be engaging and relevant, ensuring you get a well-rounded education in music composition and theory.

Some Parting Thoughts

The world of music composition and theory is vast and ever-evolving. At NYU Steinhardt, you will not only learn the technical aspects of music but also how to infuse your compositions with emotion and meaning. With numerous opportunities to collaborate, perform, and learn from the best, the possibilities are boundless.

This program can be the launchpad for your dreams. Each note you compose echoes your unique voice in this symphony of life. And yes! It’s also so much more than learning, it’s about being part of New York City’s vibrant artistic community. 

PS: Huge thanks to my amazing academic adviser, THE Dr. Robert Honstein, for helping me with this overview of the Steinhardt program! Further, I just want to say how incredibly lucky I am to meet all of my TALENTED peers in this program. Y’all have made this journey so so so much better! Sending everyone so much love!

HI Y’ALL! My name is Andrew and hope you are having an awesome day! I am a sophomore at NYU studying Music Composition and Theory in Concert Music while pursuing my interests in Pre-Health. I’m an Admissions Ambassador, Hall Council Member (22-23), Composer Collective E-Board Member, Music Tutor at a Music Academy, Hospital Emergency Room Volunteer, Medical Assistant, and proud NYU Student. Outside of class, I love traveling, listing to music and grab food and coffee with my friends and family! I hope my articles can shine a light to help people navigating through their Pre-NYU, During-NYU, and Post-NYU Journey! Thanks!