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The Academy is a core program of the Music Institute of Chicago, a national leader in music education for more than 90 years.  The Academy program, for highly gifted string and piano students, is designed to be the primary musical experience in a students’ life.

Accepted students participate in all aspects of the curriculum including private lessons with The Academy artist faculty, chamber music, chamber orchestra, and accelerated theory classes. Pianists additionally study keyboard history, literature and skills, and keyboard improvisation in an intimate group setting.

Components Include

  • Private Instruction
    The heart of an Academy education. Students study with MIC’s renowned artist faculty, the equal of any conservatory in the world.
  • Chamber Music
    Weekly coachings with artist faculty, scheduled rehearsal time,  performance classes, and regular ensemble concerts make up the robust program.
  • Enrichment
    The only program of its kind to offer regular master classes, discussion panels, lectures, and workshops with professional experts and masterful pedagogues who provide the Academy student with a broad view of the world of music.
  • Chamber Orchestra
    Performance opportunities, tours, and a challenging repertoire, in an intimate ensemble, is offered to violinists, violists, cellists and bass students.
  • Performances
    Philanthropic, civic, educational, and outreach opportunities, as well as paid engagements, are provided to Academy students in settings throughout the Chicagoland area.
  • Music Theory & History
    Academy students all study music theory and history at a level appropriate to their level of advancement.
    • music theory/history
    • solfeggio
    • ear training, rhythmic and melodic dictation

Career Development & Counseling

Academy students have the opportunity to receive advice and guidance from President Mark George, Academy Director Jim Setapen and artist faculty on competitions, college auditions, conservatory programs, instruments, and much more. 


The Academy offers students opportunities to connect with peers, alums, teachers, conservatory professors, conductors, and managers.

The Academy Program

Daily Curriculum - Strings and piano

Ages 13* – 19 (senior year in high school)

  • Classes begin mid-September and run through May
  • Saturdays 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Students arrive as early as 8AM to practice.
  • *Twelve-year-old students may be considered in special circumstances.
  • All components of the comprehensive curriculum are mandatory.
  • Students are expected to be available for the entire day on Saturday; three dress rehearsals will occur on Fridays and seven concerts will occur on Saturday evenings.
  • One-hour private lesson (students living closer than 50 miles to the Academy should expect to have their lessons on a day other than Saturday)
  • One-hour chamber music coaching (weeknight or Saturday)
  • One-hour chamber music rehearsal
  • Two-hour chamber orchestra rehearsal
  • Musicianship class
  • Piano literature/improvisation/keyboard skills class (pianists only)
  • Enrichment/Master classes

Other Program Components:

  • Audition and competition preparation
  • Performance opportunities
  • College audition, summer program and career counseling

Program Attendance

Academy classes begin mid-September and run through mid-May. Participation in Academy classes, rehearsals, lessons, master classes and performances, as well as attendance at selected concerts, is required. Students are expected to be available for the entire day, and on weekend evenings for concerts and dress rehearsals that occur throughout the year.

Unexcused absences may be grounds for program dismissal. Excused absences include illness or family emergency, school concerts, competitions, conservatory and college auditions and significant performance opportunities.