Intro to Music Composition

Composition students at summer camp



Summer Arts at Mason 2022

From structured in-class listening, discussion, and application, students will learn basic elements of the composer’s creative process, including melodic construction, harmony and counterpoint. This foundational program will use traditional methods as well as music notation software and other digital apps to help participants begin building their own compositions!

What you should know to take this workshop: basic understanding of treble and bass clef, experience playing an instrument, basic understanding of music theory (scales, key signatures, time signatures). Participants are encouraged to bring in pieces they are currently working on, although it is not required.


Ages:  13 – 18
Dates:  July 25 – 29, 2022
Times:  9:00 am – 4:00 pm* (M-F)
Tuition:  $467
Location: In-Person: Mason Fairfax Campus, deLaski Performing Arts Building
*After Care add-on option (4pm-6pm) is available for this program.


COVID REQUIREMENTS:  Students must follow University Covid protocols. Please see updates here.

Register Now

Get details and register for AFTER CARE (4pm-6pm).
After Care cost for the week is an additional $140.




John Jansen Music Technology Instructor
Instructor: John Jansen
Mason School of Music Professor
Read about Mr. Jansen

John C.L. Jansen is an active composer, multi-instrumentalist, luthier, author, recording engineer, and teacher of music technology and music theory, based in Takoma Park, Maryland.

John’s compositions are influenced by a reverence of nature, a love of patterns, and the energy of minimalism. He currently divides his time between writing chamber works for ensembles of existing instruments and writing for original instruments and tuning systems he designs himself. His music has been performed across the United States by the Partch Quartet, the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble, Duo Atmos, chamber band Drive (J:), Decho Ensemble, the violinist Todd Reynolds, and saxophonist Jacob Swanson.

A strong advocate for new music, John has appeared at Strange Beautiful Music VI and VII in Detroit, Michigan with the GVSU New Music Ensemble, as well as accompanied the same group on four tours of the national parks—reaching twenty parks spanning the West Coast to the East Coast. In 2016 John co-founded Drive (J:), a chamber band from Fredonia, New York. With Drive (J:), John has appeared at the New Music Gathering in Boston, MA, and released two studio albums: places/spaces, and Phenomenology. As a solo performer, he has appeared at the New York City Electro Acoustic Music Festival and the Hot Air New Music Festival in San Francisco, California. John has also collaborated with Bang On A Can to restore Glenn Branca’s Movement Within, a piece for an ensemble of original instruments designed for a seven-octave overtone tuning. He worked directly with the original instruments, and the final product was performed live on WNYC’s New Sounds program.

As an instrument builder, John invented a 3rd bridge instrument called the duochord, a 9-foot-long amplified zither which allows the user to isolate string partials, and to generate clouds of reverberant harmonics. He is also one of the only builders of daxophones, and pick-behind-the-bridge guitars, little-known inventions by Hans Reichel.

In 2020, John founded JLJ Instruments, a company that produces experimental musical instruments. The company has shipped globally, with orders ranging from daxophones to microtonal guitars.




“I loved that, even I with very little background information about composing, I could compose something everyday after the lessons!”―Intro to Music Composition 2020 Participant

“I like that I made my first composition and received positive feedback”―Intro to Music Composition 2020 Participant

“My favorite parts of the program were learning about forms in classical music, composing, and getting feedback about our compositions.”―Intro to Music Composition 2020 Participant

“My favorite part of the program was the composition challenges, where Mr. Andrew would sit us down, give us a list of requirements, and say, ‘Now compose a piece!’”―Intro to Music Composition 2019 Participant




Full Camp List