Welcome to Songwriting

Songwriting, Music Business, and Film Scoring all revolve around curriculum that is exemplary of our embracing popular culture since the department's inception in 1925. Courses like our Songwriters Forum, created in 1989, continually re-energize our commitment to providing undergraduate and graduate students with focused offerings in popular songwriting. We develop talent in myriad ways that engage our students with both the art and the industry—from faculty members like GRAMMY-nominated songwriters Phil Galdston and Barry Eastmond, acclaimed country and Americana artist Rosanne Cash, and renowned vocalist Janice Pendarvis, to regular interactions with high-level label executives, music publishers, managers, and other notable professionals. In addition, our students receive unique opportunities: Students Tiger Darrow, Peter Wise, and AJ Smith opened for the Eagles at New York City's Beacon Theatre in Fall 2012; alumna Anna Paddock opened for Paul Simon in Spring 2014. Our alumni include legendary film composer Elmer Bernstein, songwriter Cy Coleman, mastering engineer Emily Lazar, and A Great Big World (Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino), whose hit song "Say Something" was performed with Christina Aguilera on NBC's The Voice.

Both the BM and MM Songwriting concentrations are degrees in music composition, Applicants are expected to display the sensibility of a songwriter: competence in communicating emotions and ideas through song; comfort with and a commitment to originality in the format; and dedication to exploring the art and craft of this universal art form. Applicants are also expected to display competence in musicianship and instrumental performance sufficient to assist them not only in their study of music theory, arranging, etc., but to enable them to work and communicate with colleagues and faculty in music composition. Our curricula are devoted to helping our students become the best songwriters they can be, in genres, styles, and approaches they define. Our goal is not to try to "teach" students how to become hit songwriters (something we don’t believe is teachable, anyhow). Rather, we provide access to the wide range of tools employed by composers and lyricists whose work has distinguished them as important practitioners of the art and craft of song. 

The vision and experience of our faculty, like GRAMMY®-nominated songwriter Phil Galdston, Master Teacher in Songwriting and Faculty Songwriter-in-Residence, help students to engage and explore songwriting with breadth, depth, and fierce individuality. The Songwriters Hall of Fame Master Sessions, which we present in collaboration with the Songwriters Hall of Fame, have featured such luminaries as Jimmy Webb, Nile Rodgers, David Byrne, Glenn Frey, Valerie Simpson, Felix Cavaliere, John Sebastian, and the late Hal David. These unique master classes, in tandem with other innovative programs like our FRIDAY@1 interview/Q&A series (see list to the right), provide our students with unparalleled access to the some of the foremost music-makers of our time.

Through our curriculum, our students have the opportunity to study songwriting and related arts in a number of different settings:

  • Private, one-on-one classes
  • As part of Songwriters Forum (12-15 students)
  • In hands-on performance, production, arranging and engineering classes in the studio environment

Our academic and artistic environment includes access to courses in and collaborations with students and faculty in the related areas of Music Business, Music Technology, and Film Scoring. In addition, our students derive the countless advantages of enrollment in an outstanding liberal arts program at one of the world’s great universities.

BM in Music Theory and Composition with a Concentration in Contemporary Production and Songwriting
MM in Music Theory and Composition with a Concentration in Songwriting

Phil Galdston, Director of Songwriting, Master Teacher of Songwriting/NYU Songwriter-in-Residence,