Founded in 1970, the Conservatory is a division of Westminster Choir College of Rider University and is situated on the historic Princeton, New Jersey, campus of Westminster Choir College. With over two thousand students, classes are taught at five other locations in New Jersey. Grounded in the belief that music has the capacity to touch people and to change lives, Westminster Conservatory of Music provides outstanding music instruction to students of all ages and ability. The Westminster Conservatory is non-denominational, and all are welcome.

Westminster Conservatory is a nationally recognized institution, maintaining active membership in the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts.

For more information about the Westminster Conservatory and its programs, please visit their website at


The Young Artist Program is the honors music program of Westminster Conservatory of Music, the community music school of Westminster Choir College of Rider University. The program is available to piano, voice, wind, brass, and string students from ages 7 to 18 who desire a comprehensive music program in addition to their weekly private lessons.

The program offers a unique opportunity for gifted and motivated students to develop and refine their musical knowledge, skills, and performance techniques. The program brings together like-minded young musicians in a nurturing and challenging environment. The dedicated faculty members offer high caliber instruction in a professional atmosphere, which includes a structured, sequential curriculum in music history and theory as well as instruction in chamber music, jazz improvisation, and performance. The Young Artist Program strives to develop well-rounded and informed musicians and performers.

The Young Artist Program includes:

  • Music Theory and Ear Training - Students explore the structure of music from the earliest fundamentals to college level studies.

  • Music History - Students study music history in both survey and seminar style classes and learn to examine how composers' lives and cultures shaped their music.

  • Chamber Music - Students and a chamber music instructor meet weekly in small ensembles. Their work culminates in two chamber music recitals each year.

  • Performance Class - Students experience varied repertoire and develop their solo performance skills in a master-class setting.

  • Improvisation Class - Students are introduced to various styles of jazz. They study the tools of improvisation with the goal of becoming proficient improvisers.

  • Recitals - Solo and chamber music recitals provide special venues in which Young Artist students showcase their most polished work each semester.

  • Workshops - Distinguished guest artists present exciting workshops and master classes designed to inform and to inspire students while exposing them to the diverse world of music.

  • Evaluation - At the conclusion of the year, each student performs for a faculty panel and receives written evaluation of technique, musicianship, and repertoire achievements.

Young Artist students have the opportunity to work with an international faculty who are graduates of some of the world's finest musical institutions, while adapting their teaching to the needs of today's young musicians. For information about Young Artist faculty, please consult the faculty section of the Westminster Conservatory catalogue.


Excellent attendance is required for participation in the Young Artist Program. Ensemble partners depend on one another to make music. They rely on the presence of the complete ensemble to integrate their individual parts into a fine musical performance. Young Artist students and their families sign a contract confirming their understanding of the attendance policy.

Students in the program must also be enrolled in a 45 or 60-minute weekly private lesson, whether the student studies with a private teacher from Westminster Conservatory or outside of it. Students audition for the program and are accepted on the basis of level and space availability. The cost of private lessons is not included in the Young Artist Program tuition.


Created to honor the memory of Anil T. Bharvaney, who tragically lost his life on September 11, 2001, this fund enhances the Young Artist Program by providing financial assistance to deserving students, expanding the jazz component of the Program, and underwriting enrichment activities for all Young Artist Program students. The Young Artist Program gratefully acknowledges the Anil Bharvaney Endowment Fund. To learn how you can support the Anil T. Bharvaney Endowment, please go to How to Donate.

Theory class participants study the fundamentals of music, including music notation, clefs, intervals, scales, key signatures, chords, rhythmic values, and time signatures. Students learn how these materials are used to create the basic organizing principles of music -- melody, harmony, and rhythm. In addition to written exercises, students reinforce material presented in class through in-class performance, singing, and clapping. These hands-on techniques allow each student to draw connections between the theoretical material and his or her own musical performance. Emphasis is also placed on the cultivation of each student's aural skills through solfege and dictation exercises. Elementary students study music theory in a fun and encouraging setting, and graduate from this level with a solid foundation in the basic mechanics of music.

Building upon the fundamentals learned at the elementary level, students delve deeper into the principles of melody, harmony, and rhythm. Through analysis and written exercises, students study topics that include harmonic progressions, cadences, chord inversions, part writing and voice leading, seventh chords, modulation, non-harmonic tones, melodic contour, odd meters, and irregular rhythms. Students gain insight into the craft of musical composition by applying the concepts they have learned to their own original compositions. Each student continues to develop aural skills through weekly dictation and solfège exercises.

Advanced-level students analyze the compositions of composers from various historic periods. The various pitch systems used by these composers, including the modal, tonal, and 12-tone systems are studied. Students explore common forms and processes, such as sonata form, rondo, concerto, variation, canon, and fugue. Students compose in various styles: from and species counterpoint through atonal music. Students continue to practice dictation and sight-singing skills. Most students graduating from the advanced level place out of at least one year of college-level music theory.

Students explore music of the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th century periods through listening, discussion, reading and writing. Stories of the great composers provide fun and interest throughout the elementary level. Elements of style are emphasized and simple research is introduced. Students are encouraged to form and share their own observations about the music they encounter. Students have short weekly listening assignments.

The intermediate course begins with a two-year history survey course covering the Baroque period through the early 20th century. Students explore the development of each musical period, with emphasis on understanding style through the study of musical genres and major composers. Connections are made between historical events and musical trends, enriching each student's historical perspective. The intermediate students use the Norton interactive CD and textbook. This sourcebook provides quality reproductions of major works of art, architecture, and historical instruments as well as self-directed listening guides for compositions from each musical period.

Students are introduced to Early Music and make a deeper study of the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th century musical periods. Each year's topics are chosen to suit the interests and needs of the students enrolled in this level. Students present at least one analysis of a piece per year. Some research and writing is included in this class.

As an exciting aspect of the Young Artist Program, chamber music class offers students a chance to explore a new world of repertoire and to build performing partnerships with other musicians. Each week the chamber instructor coaches students on repertoire and fundamentals. Students are offered opportunities to work with different instructors and different chamber combinations throughout their course of study in the program. Appropriate ensemble placement is crucial. Year after year, our students tell us how privileged they feel to play chamber music.

Performance class provides an opportunity for students to gain valuable performance experience by playing for their peers. The class addresses issues frequently encountered in performance situations. Students are exposed to new repertoire and develop skills of critical listening and constructive commentary, while they support one another's musical growth. Both students and their private teachers appreciate this chance for the student to try out solo repertoire, and every student is required to perform regularly. Each student's performance is videotaped for the student's own viewing and study. The instructor also provides brief written comments for each student.

Improvisation should be included in every musician's study. Students are introduced to the various styles of jazz, through critical listening and discussions of the genre's history. They are supplied with the tools to become proficient improvisers and are expected to practice their skills both in and out of class. Both students who have some jazz experience, as well as others who are not familiar with the idiom interact and learn about America's most indigenous music.

Several times each year, the Young Artist Program offers workshops, which are presented in either master class or seminar format. Students are offered both the opportunity to learn from visiting experts and the experience of performing for and working with master teachers. Recent Young Artist students have composed a mini-opera, improvised with a professional jazz trio, and studied Baroque ornamentation and dance. Young Artist Program students learn about world music. Students have played a Javanese gamelan and learned about Romanian folk music. Workshops offer opportunities to meet and talk with musicians and to learn about some of the many careers in music.

All students perform for a panel of Conservatory faculty in May. This required performance evaluation assures each student's progress through the levels of the Young Artist performance curriculum in his/her performance major. It also provides an opportunity for the student to receive valuable comments about technique and musicianship from other professionals.

Students receive grades for each Young Artist class in January and June, based on class participation, test scores, and attendance.