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A Note to Prospective Students

"We believe the Academy is the Gold Standard for training high school string players and pianists."
- Sue Polutnik

How would you like to spend your Saturdays immersed in music with friends who love playing in an orchestra as much as you do? To rehearse chamber music with national award-winning coaches? To perform in master classes with distinguished teachers and guest artists from across the country?

The Academy at the Music Institute of Chicago promises all this and more. And friendships that last a lifetime.

The Music Institute of Chicago Academy, is a nationally recognized as a top programs for pre-college musicians and dedicated to students with extraordinary talent. The rigors of the comprehensive curriculum are suited to musicians who plan to pursue conservatory training and a professional career in music. Our goal is to introduce students to a broad musical community, like-minded peers, and conservatory faculty members.

Since 2006,  the Academy’s comprehensive training program for gifted pre-college students, provides piano and string musicians the best music education in preparation of conservatory admission. Students have attended the Academy from all corners of the country and from across the globe, including students from Costa Rica, Argentina, China, and Korea. The all-inclusive program meets for 30 weeks on Saturdays, September through May, 9:30am to 6:00pm, on the beautiful grounds of Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois (just 40 minutes north of downtown Chicago).

The curriculum includes one 60-minute private lesson (taken off-site during the week) with your teacher or an Academy faculty member, two hours of keyboard classes for piano students (keyboard literature, history, duo piano, and improvisation), a robust two-hour chamber music program, two hours of chamber orchestra, 90-minutes of music theory which includes solfeggio, ear training, and music history, and a weekly 90-minute enrichment class that offers master classes with the likes of Midori (violin), Paul Katz (cello), and Jerome Lowenthal (Piano). Students are required to take a music theory placement exam at orientation to determine which level of theory --beginner level to intermediate, accelerated, or advanced composition levels, is most suited to their experience.

The Academy staff and faculty also provide insightful college and conservatory audition guidance and college letters of recommendation.

Throughout the year, students are provided performance opportunities at philanthropic, civic, and community events. In addition, students are engaged in collaborative partnerships with organizations like the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, WFMT Radio, From the Top, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Botanic Garden, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.

It's Easy to Apply!

All prospective students are required to submit a pre-screen video performance (via YouTube). The pre-screen ensures the playing level and skillset matches our current students and reviews technical proficiency, musicality, and intonation.The pre-screen should be a polished piece that exhibits a student’s highest level of skill and proficiency. The performance should be current and must include two pieces of contrasting styles--something lyrical and something showing virtuosity.  Accompanists are not required for the pre-screen.

Academy Director Jim Setapen and MIC President Mark George review pre-screen submissions and provide evaluation commentary to students who do not advance to a live audition.   If the pre-screen is approved, a live audition is scheduled for spring or summer. Admission is rolling, but there are only a limited number of string and piano openings each year.

Please read through all of the Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about the program and contact me today to begin your Academy journey!

Sue Polutnik
Academy Executive Director