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Composition Department Handbook



Composition Seminar

Composition Seminar is a one-credit course held each Thursday, 5:30-7:20 p.m., in Cohen-Davison Theatre.


Each year, Peabody brings in several eminent composers to give presentations in seminar. Previous years have featured John Corigliano, Thomas Adés, John Adams, David Lang, Robert Beaser, Christopher Rouse, Jennifer Higdon, Georg Friedrich Haas, and Jason Eckardt, among others. Any student may plan to attend these seminars, even if he or she is not formally enrolled in the course. It is a good opportunity to meet major figures in the field, hear works of theirs which are not commercially available, hear fascinating anecdotes from their lives and careers, and accumulate bits of practical advice and general wisdom. The Peabody faculty also make regular seminar presentations, which is a good way for the community to keep up with their most recent works.

Every graduate composition student will be required to make one seminar presentation during his or her degree. The topic and presentation should be prepared in coordination with the student's major teacher. The department chair will provide additional details on student presentations in seminar. At least two days before your presentation, give the GA any materials you want copied. The faculty secretary works very hard to meet the schools needs, and it is a minimal courtesy to give her plenty of lead time to make copies. Please bring at least four copies of any scores you are discussing, so those in attendance of the seminar are able to see examine the presentation materials (which might involve pieces unfamiliar to them) more closely. Prepare handouts that summarize your thesis and major points and bring enough for everyone in the class. CD, tape and LP players are always available. Other media (e.g. DVD, video tape players, DAT) are available with advance request.


Be aware that your seminar grade will be based on attendance at all departmental events, including seminars, departmental recitals, and ensemble readings.


Please note that all students who are registered for composition seminar are obligated to help out at our composition recitals which include, stage crew, reception and other composition related events. Your participation in these events will directly affect your grade in Composition Seminar. Make sure you volunteer for at least one composition recital while you are enrolled during the academic semester.

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Department Recitals

Each year, the department offers six recitals featuring new works by Peabody composition students. Any current composition student may submit a piece to the recital. Students taking minor lessons in composition may submit pieces as space allows. Composition students are required to attend departmental recitals; absences will cause a penalty in your composition seminar grade.


Recital No. 1
  • Thursday, October 26, 2017, 8:00 p.m., Griswold Hall
  • Sound checks: TBD
  • Submission deadline: October 13, 2017
Recital No. 2
  • Thursday, November 30, 2017, 8:00 p.m., Griswold Hall
  • Sound checks: TBD
  • Submission deadline: November 17, 2017
Recital No. 3
  • Thursday, February 15, 2018, 8:00 p.m., Griswold Hall
  • Sound checks: TBD
  • Submission deadline: February 2, 2018
Recital No. 4
  • Thursday, March 15, 2018, 8:00 p.m., Cohen-Davison Theatre
  • Sound checks: TBD
  • Submission deadline: March 2, 2018
Recital No. 5
  • Thursday, April 19, 2018, 8:00 p.m., Cohen-Davison Theatre
  • Sound checks: TBD
  • Submission deadline: April 6, 2018
Recital No. 6
  • Friday, May 11, 2018, 8:00 p.m., Goodwin Hall
  • Sound checks: TBD
  • Submission deadline: April 27, 2018

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The submission process for the departmental recitals is fairly simple. Nevertheless, failure to follow the proper protocol in submitting your piece may result in it not being programmed. Thus, read the following instructions carefully:

  1. Ask you teacher to approve your piece for submission to a department recital.
  2. E-mail the current GA stating your name and the date on which you would like to program your piece. (This step is optional, but it unofficially reserves your spot and gives you priority if the recital fills up. You are encouraged to complete this step as far in advance as possible.)
  3. Once you have found musicians, submit your piece using the online form ( This will officially reserve your spot on the recital. You must fully complete the form, including any program notes, the full title of your piece and any movements, the full names of your performers, and any special requests. You must submit your piece using the online form at least one week before the concert! Partial submissions and e-mail submissions are not accepted. Late submissions are unacceptable and unprofessional; only under extreme circumstances, and at the whim of the department chair and the GA, will late submissions be accepted.
  4. Your piece is now officially submitted. Please respond promptly to any inquiries about your piece from the GA.


  • You are expected to assemble your own musicians to rehearse and perform your work on a recital. Time during the sound checks is limited. If you wish to schedule a sound check with your musicians in the performance space, please email the GA as soon as possible to reserve your time in the hall.
  • Please have a concrete stage setup in mind before submitting your piece. Your submission should include this information in your online form. Please be as clear as possible; if you can, e-mail the GA a diagram or picture of your setup after you submit your piece.
  • Requests for specific spots on the program order may be accommodated on a limited basis. Your performers should be available throughout the concert in case the program order changes at the last minute.
  • Any pieces that require music technology (amplification, speakers, microphones, synthesizers, computers, etc.) must be discussed with and approved by Dr. Boyle at least two weeks before the recital. The school may support these performances to a limited extent if enough prior notice is given so that arrangements may be made. If your piece requires music technology, you (and your performers) are also obligated to have a supervised sound check prior to the recital. Any pieces involving piano preparation of any kind must be approved by Peabody's chief piano technician, Mary Schwendeman (, before being submitted. You should provide exact specifications of your piano preparations when requesting approval for your piece. You may be asked to provide documentation of this approval prior to the recital.

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Sound checks
The department usually has the hall booked an hour and a half before the concert begins. Following any necessary set-up (e.g., music technology, hall adjustment), the hall is available for composers to have sound checks. All sound checks must be ended and the stage must be vacated 15 minutes before the recital begins.
Sound checks are scheduled by the GA via e-mail. Since time is limited, sound checks may not exceed 10 minutes. If your time is up and no one else is there to do a sound check, you may continue until someone else arrives, or otherwise instructed by the GA.
Please note that sound checks are not dress rehearsals. There usually will not be enough time to run through your entire piece or do in-depth rehearsal. If other musicians and composers arrive for a scheduled sound check, you must vacate the stage for them. Please be courteous and limit your pre-concert hall usage. Also note that sound checks are not opportunities for a sneak preview for your family or friends. Only you and your musician(s) are allowed to be in the hall during sound checks.

Call times
The GA must receive confirmation of your stage set up from either you or your musician(s) at least 10 minutes before the concert begins (preferably earlier.) You must acquire information regarding how many music stands will be used, their placements, the height of piano lid, and all other stage accessories and miscellany. Sloppy stage changes reflect poorly on the department, so it is absolutely critical that you provide this information in advance of the concert.

Running the concert
Occasionally there will be a designated warm-up room for your musicians.

  • If there is a warm-up room - Your musicians should remain there until they are called to perform. If your piece is not programmed on the first half, your musicians may watch the first half of the recital, but must go to the warm-up room
    immediately after the first half.
  • If there is no warm-up room - Your musicians should remain in the hallway or backstage. Under no circumstances should your musicians play their instruments or sing in the hallway/backstage. If they must warm up or practice, they should do this in a nearby location and notify the stage crew personnel of their location. If your piece is not programmed on the first half, your musicians may watch the first half of the recital, but must go backstage immediately after the first half.

Your musicians should remain in the warm-up room or backstage. They will be called to go backstage with plenty of time before they need to go onstage.

Dress code
As an official Peabody-sponsored concert, the same dress code guidelines that govern large ensemble concerts are applicable to our concerts. Musicians who arrive for a concert wearing inappropriate attire will be sent home to change. The basic dress code is as follows:

  • Men - Black tuxedo, pressed white dress shirt, black socks and black dress shoes (no cowboy or combat boots), black cummerbund or black tuxedo vest, black bow tie, suspenders are permitted, but must be black or white.
  • Women - Plain black, floor- to mid-calf-length gown, skirt and top, or slacks and top with long or three-quarter length sleeves (slacks must be wide, loose, and flowing, not tight and no jeans), black or natural hosiery (as necessary) and black dress shoes (no open-toed shoes or sandals); no excessive jewelry, sequins, or sparkles (hair accessories must be black, silver, or gold); no plunging necklines, rising slits (dress and skirt slits must not exceed six inches in length), low-cut backs or displays of midriff (wear a slip if your outfit requires it). A basic rule to follow is that no one should be able to see your toes, knees, or elbows.

These are just basic guidelines; there is latitude for customization and personalization. For example, men may wear a dark suit with a colored tie. Since the main key to appropriate dress is uniformity, the most leeway is given to soloists, who may adopt appropriately-modified attire. You should discuss your expectations for their dress with your musicians before the concert.

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Peabody does offer some incentive to student musicians to perform in our recitals. The Conservatory will pay musicians involved in a departmental recital only for their rehearsal time up to four hours at a rate of $8.33 per hour. Simply put, your performers will get a check from Peabody for $33.32. Like the submissions process, the process by which your musicians are paid is relatively simple. Make sure to follow the steps below to ensure that your performers get paid:

  1. After the recital, see Susan Kuhn, Payroll Coordinator in Human Resources. Give her the name of each of your performers. She will give you a time card and payroll form (either CWS or ISEP) for each person.
  2. Fill out the payroll form as much as possible. On each time card, just mark down the player’s name, the date of the recital, and four hours of rehearsal. Have your performers finish the payroll form, sign the time card, and return them to you.
  3. Return all of the forms simultaneously to Barbara Lambert in the Dean’s Office. Your performers may pick their paychecks up from the Business Office in two or three weeks.


  • You do not get paid to perform your own piece.
  • Paperwork must be submitted after the recital has occurred, not before.
  • It is your responsibility to expedite all of the paperwork, not the musicians'. (You, not your performers, need to submit the paperwork to Barbara Lambert.)
  • Paperwork is due to the Dean's Office one week prior to the end of each semester.
  • Please make every effort to have your performers paid. Not only is it a basic professional courtesy, but it ensures that you and your colleagues will have a steady stream of willing performers in the future. Delays in paying your performers reflect poorly on the department, not just you.

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Ensemble Readings

The Peabody Symphony Orchestra, Peabody Singers, and Peabody Wind Ensemble hold readings each year in which compositions for large groups are read through and recorded.


Peabody Symphony Orchestra Reading No. 1
  • Score due: Thursday, September 21, 2017, to GA before seminar
  • Parts due after receiving GA's approval: Thursday, October 19, 2017, to Ensemble Office by noon
  • Reading: Thursday, November 2, 2017, 3:30-5:30 p.m., Friedberg Concert Hall
Peabody Symphony Orchestra Reading No. 2
  • Score due: Thursday, December 7, 2017, to GA before seminar
  • Parts due after receiving GA's approval: Thursday, January 25, 2018, to Ensemble Office by noon
  • Reading: Monday, February 12, 2018, 3:30-5:30 p.m., Friedberg Concert Hall
Peabody Symphony Orchestra Reading No. 3
  • Score due: Thursday, February 1, 2018, to GA before seminar
  • Parts due after receiving GA's approval: Thursday, March 8, 2018, to Ensemble Office by noon
  • Reading: Tuesday, March 27, 2018, 3:30-5:30 p.m., Friedberg Concert Hall
Peabody Wind Ensemble Reading
  • Score due: Thursday, February 1, 2018, to GA before seminar
  • Parts due after receiving GA's approval: Thursday, March 1, 2018, to Ensemble Office by noon
  • Reading: Thursday, March 29, 2018, 3:30-5:30 p.m., Friedberg Concert Hall
 Peabody Symphony Orchestra Reading No. 4
  • Score due: Thursday, March 15, 2018, to GA before seminar
  • Parts due after receiving GA's approval: Thursday, April 12, 2018, to Ensemble Office by noon
  • Reading: Wednesday, May 2, 2018, 3:30-5:30 p.m., Friedberg Concert Hall


Your piece may not exceed 10 minutes in duration and must be within the maximum instrumentation stated by the ensemble office's guidelines. Each composer will receive a 30–45 minute reading and each work will be recorded by the Peabody recording arts department. These raw recordings are made available to the A/V desk of the library in usually 3 business days after the reading.
Choral works may be scored for SATB with optional piano or organ. All choral scores must include a piano reduction for rehearsal purposes, even if they are a cappella.


All Large Ensemble Reading Submissions must include the submission form with Faculty signature.

Scores, in final form, must be approved by the composition faculty before they can be submitted for a reading. You must submit your score by the score due date.

A note on deadlines for the orchestral readings: To get your piece read, you must first submit two clean—preferably desktop-published—conductor’s scores to the GA on the specified due date. Space on readings is limited, so unfortunately not all pieces are guaranteed a reading. The composition faculty chooses scores according to explicit guidelines. These take into account your program and year, whether you’ve had other pieces read recently, the length of the piece to be read, and the feasibility of reading the piece in a limited time. For pieces requiring soloist(s), you are responsible for providing the soloist(s). Once your piece is approved, your scores will be given to the Ensemble Office.

The graduate assistant will submit the individual parts to the Ensemble Office. Be sure all scores and parts meet the Ensemble Office’s guidelines, handed out separately. The industry standard calls for parts to be printed on 10"x13" paper and tape 9 bound. Although the Ensemble Office does not require these strict standards, you still must adhere to their guidelines and suggestions. Click here to read more about guidelines and preferred practices. Additionally, the typical instrumentation for the Peabody Wind Ensemble is listed here.

Works submitted for readings must be in their final form at the time of submission. Minor notational errors found during the creation of parts may certainly be corrected, however, once scores have been submitted, no further composition should be occurring! If minor edits are required (spacing within a score, notational errors, edits to articulations etc.), then you will need to supply two final scores to the Ensemble Office PRIOR TO THE READING.

Finally, note that the score and parts deadlines are extremely important! Failure to meet a deadline could potentially result in the removal of a piece from a reading.


All composers are required to attend all readings.
All readings take place during large ensemble times so no classes are scheduled; absences will cause a penalty in your composition seminar grade.

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All graduating master’s students are required to submit a portfolio of compositions written at Peabody as a degree requirement. The deadline for submitting the portfolio to the Office of Academic Affairs is April 15th.

During the semester in which you plan to graduate, discuss your portfolio with your major teacher. Once you have finalized your portfolio, bring it to the department head on or before the deadline. There are no special presentation guidelines beyond what the faculty may stipulate in the case that modifications are requested. Your portfolio will eventually become a part of the library’s non-circulating collection.

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Besides performances, competitions are the best way for you to get recognition and build you career. Happily, competitions often result in performances, and, better yet, prize money! You may find many competitions online or contact the placement office as they have a comprehensive listing of current competitions.

Peabody holds internal competitions, all of which ask for works composed while you are at Peabody. Entry forms are available in the Concert Office. Entries require your major teacher’s signature and several scores, so don’t wait until the last minute to put this together. Pack your materials in an envelope before submitting them to the Concert Office. The student handbook published by the Office of Student Affairs contains details on Peabody competitions.

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Composition departmental recitals and ensemble readings are taped digitally by the Recording Arts department. CDs or DATs are available for a nominal charge, as are recordings of non-departmental recitals.

Recordings made during an Ensemble Reading often require some editing as they are rarely performed without interruption. If you choose, you can hire the Recording Arts Department to do this work for you on digital equipment. For scheduling any of this work, call (410) 234–4550.

To order a copy of an existing tape or to inquire about rates, see the Recording Arts Department, or visit:

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Computer Music Facilities

Access to studios and resources maintained by the computer music department is a privilege. The computer music faculty closely monitors their use and maintains exclusive authority to grant or revoke access at any time. Please adhere to the following guidelines for their use; consult the computer music department’s studio guidelines for further policies (


  • To request key card access to room 307C, e-mail the computer music department helpdesk (
  • User accounts are provided as a courtesy to composers. The Computer Music Department supervises the use of room 307C and is available to help you set up your account once you are given access.
  • Only designated computer music and composition students are allowed in room 307C. Do not let unauthorized persons (e.g., your friends or those claiming to have lost their key card) enter room 307C or use its resources.
  • The equipment in room 307C is carefully configured for optimal use. Under no circumstances should you unplug any cables from any equipment. Failure to comply will result in your access being revoked.


  • The computer music department no longer supplies paper; users must supply their own paper if they would like to use the printer.
  • Make only one copy of each print job. The printer may not be used for duplications or classroom use by faculty or GAs (e.g., printing quizzes or homework assignments). There are several copy machines across campus for student use (copying scores, term papers, etc.). Charlotte Chalmers, the faculty secretary, is available to faculty and GAs for duplications.
  • The computer music department services the printer; if you encounter any problems, contact one of the GAs.


E-mail the computer music department helpdesk if you encounter any problems or need any help. Since room 307C is maintained solely by the computer music department, the IT department or the composition department GA cannot assist you with any problems.

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Keeping Informed

We communicate information through multiple channels, so stay aware of e-mails and the fliers posted around Peabody.
Here are some of the informational resources available:


Seminar meets Thursdays, 3:30-5:20 p.m., in Cohen-Davison Theatre. Students and interested persons who are not registered for the course are still encouraged to attend any seminar. If you are registered, attendance at all department-related events is required, unless otherwise stated. This includes ensemble readings and departmental recitals.

Email: Once you receive your Peabody e-mail address, e-mail it to the current department GA, so that it may be added to the composition department e-mail list ( If you are having trouble accessing your new email address, contact Peabody's IT department. The department communicates by e-mail several times a week. If you are not on the composition e-mail list, you will miss important information.

Share your good news! If you have a performance outside of school, win a prestigious competition, or have any good news on your compositions, don't forget to e-mail the current GA so your information may be posted on our departmental website.


  • American Music Center - A great resource for staying informed, connecting with performers, and generally developing your career. The Placement Office stocks copies of their bulletin which is a great resource for competitions.
  • ASCAP - The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers is a performing rights organization which licenses and collects royalties for performance of its membership.
  • BMI - BMI, a leader in rights management, collects license fees from businesses that use music, which it distributes as royalties to songwriters & music publishers.
  • City Paper - A free alternative weekly with many arts listings.
  • Meet The Composer - Meet The Composer's mission is to increase opportunities for composers by fostering the creation, performance, dissemination, and appreciation of their music.
  • New Music Box - New Music Box is a multimedia publication from New Music USA, dedicated to the music of American composers and improvisers and their champions.
  • Peabody Magazine - Released twice a year with news, articles, and event listings from the entire conservatory.
  • Peabody Music Entrepreneurship and Career Center - Provides comprehensive services in support of students goals: pinpoint artistic and professional objectives, build entrepreneurial skills, develop promotional materials and websites, and much more.

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The following is a list of people whom you might need to contact with regard to composition-related activities.

Cody Criswell, Graduate
CONCERT OFFICE—Located in the Conservatory building, room B07C 
Jessica Satava, Concert Series
DEAN’S OFFICE—Located in Leakin Hall, room 209 
Meredith Davey, Faculty
Barbara Lambert, Special Assistant to the
ENSEMBLE OFFICE—Located in the Conservatory building, room B06C 
Paul Faatz, Senior Ensemble
Linda Goodwin, Director of Ensemble
MUSIC ENTREPRENEURSHIP & CAREER SERVICES—Located in Leakin Hall, Plaza Level, Room 5 
Gerald Klickstein,
HUMAN RESOURCES—Located at 9 East Centre Street 
Susan Kuhn, Payroll

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