Online Learning

After thoughtful and careful consideration, the Colburn School has determined that it will begin the 2020–21 school year online.

Though we have all hoped to see a speedy conclusion to the COVID-19 pandemic, local and global infection and transmission rates have unfortunately changed little since we closed the campus. In order to protect our community, the educational activities of the School will remain online until we determine it is safe to fully reopen. We will continue our careful monitoring of the COVID-19 situation and will keep the community updated as we know more.

Current Students

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Important Dates for Fall 2020

August 11–25: Online orientation
August 26: First day of classes
December 7: Last day of classes
December 8–11: Exams


The Colburn School is currently exploring new technology platforms that should enhance the teaching and learning experience for applied lessons, with lower latency, higher fidelity and minimal compression in the transfer of the audio. Details will be made available when it is decided that one of these new platforms is a preferred option for faculty and students to use for an improved lesson experience.

All Colburn Conservatory students will be supported in learning from home. Students will be assessed individually to determine their needs, whether it is a loan of equipment to assist with high quality audio for lessons or resources to enhance internet connectivity.


Online orientation activities will be scheduled during the time frame of August 11th through August 25. Exact dates will be determined within the next few weeks. Activities will include placement exams; webinars on home studio set up, use of the online Learning Management System, and other important topics; meetings with advisors; and activities designed to introduce students to each other, faculty and the administration.

Academic Classes

All classes will be managed through a learning management system called Canvas, which will allow students to have a singular, consistent virtual classroom setting. With flexible and highly individualized advisement, students will be carefully guided through this new online environment. In consultation with their applied teacher and academic advisor, degree students will participate in academic activities suitable to their individual situation, while maintaining a minimum class load appropriate to enrollment requirements and progress towards their degree. Classes will also be carefully scheduled to allow for participation across a variety of time zones.

Performance Classes

Currently, it is not possible to have ensembles take place virtually due to latency issues. The faculty are exploring options to have students engaged in various aspects of chamber music and orchestral training that might be successful in an online format. Similar consideration is being given to required recitals. Further information will be shared before the start of the semester.


The Comprehensive Fee will be reduced from $3,000 to $1,500 for the 2020–21 academic year. Health insurance will not be billed until students return to campus, and rates have not yet been set by our insurance company. Students who need Colburn insurance for the entire year will be able to opt-in; further information will be available in early July.


In order to continue to support the social and emotional development of our students, we will continue to provide resources and programming to sustain mental and physical health, as well as the human connection that is essential to our wellbeing:

  1. Free access to our two psychotherapists via phone or videoconferencing;
  2. Free consults with our physical therapist via TeleHealth;
  3. The Healthy Musician, a seminar class which provides essential information to support healthy practice and performance habits for musicians; and
  4. The creation of opportunities such as online discussion groups or meetings to connect with key members of the community who would normally have interactions with students if on campus, including but not limited to the President, Provost, Dean, and other key administrators and faculty.

A Message from the Dean

Dean Lee Cioppa
It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the Colburn School, and to thank you for your interest in the Colburn Conservatory of Music.

As you continue on your path to a life in music, your choice of a school for advanced training is a critical component in your journey. Faculty, performance opportunities, the surrounding arts community, alumni success, peers who become your collaborators and lifelong colleagues—all of these different elements create the ideal atmosphere for developing your craft to the highest level.

One of the most unique characteristics of the Colburn Conservatory is the financial support provided to every student. All of our students receive full scholarships for tuition, grants for the Colburn Residence Hall, and a meal plan in the Colburn Café. We all know the common saying “time is money.” At Colburn, money is time. Without the financial burdens of paying tuition, taking out loans, or working a job while attending school, students have the freedom to focus fully on their studies. This extraordinary gift of time allows for an incredible capacity to achieve at the highest level, to fully recognize the potential for artistry, craft, and communication in every student.

Enjoy exploring and learning more about the Conservatory! I hope to see you at a performance or receive your application for admission.

Lee Cioppa
Dean, Conservatory of Music

Performance Opportunities

Colburn Orchestra on stage

Colburn Orchestra

Participation in orchestra is one of the central elements of the programs at the Colburn Conservatory. Concerts are held in halls around the LA area, including Walt Disney Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and the Soraya. Each concert features a student concerto soloist, including the winner of the annual Concerto Competition.

Colburn Chamber Music Society

Students collaborate with the guest artists a week before each concert, providing them with a professional chamber experience at a high level.

Performance Forum

Performance Forum serves the Colburn Conservatory as a multi-purpose gathering of the entire student body. It is a required class each semester of enrollment for students in all programs, and is structured primarily as a time when students perform for their peers and teachers.

Chamber Forum

Chamber Forum features Conservatory students performing works for small ensembles. Participation in chamber music is one of the central elements of the programs in the Conservatory of Music and develops skills of listening and collaboration, as well as an appreciation for the challenges of melding unique individuals into a cohesive group.

Private Lessons

Applied study is at the heart of the performance mission of the Colburn School. All such study is done one-on-one with faculty members who have held principal positions with many of the country’s top orchestras, as well as internationally acclaimed soloists and chamber musicians.

Master Classes and Studio Classes

Each year students have the opportunity to work with prominent musicians from around the world in a master class setting. Recent artists include Ray Chen, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Colburn’s Artist-in-Residence. They also perform regularly in studio classes led by Colburn faculty members.

Contemporary Ensemble

This ensemble is open to all students who wish to study and perform music of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Baroque Ensemble

This ensemble is dedicated to the performance of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music. Although the ensemble plays on modern instruments, it is geared towards developing an awareness of and sensitivity to the nuances of historically informed performance practices.

Guest Artists

Students have the opportunity to participate in mock auditions with guest conductors, play side-by-side with the LA Phil brass, and learn from orchestral repertoire classes with LA Phil musicians.


Student on plaza with violin

Prescreening Video Submission

Auditions are by invitation only. A video recording is required as part of the application in order to be considered for an audition invitation. You must include the listed repertoire for your instrument and upload it directly to your application; please refer to the repertoire page for specific requirements. Professional or studio recordings are not required, but the sound quality should be as optimal as possible.

Live Audition

Live audition invitations are sent in mid-December. While auditions typically take place on campus in Los Angeles, this year’s auditions will be online only and will take place during the month of February.  The process will vary by instrument, and more information will be shared in December in the invitation letter.

After the Audition

Admissions results are released no later than April 1 via the application portal.

Frequently Asked Questions

August 11–25. Canvas trainings will take place August 11–14. Placement tests will take place the week of August 17 for BM, PD, and MM students. Various virtual meetings, trainings, and activities will take place through August 25. A detailed schedule will be sent to students in the coming weeks.

Classes begin on Wednesday, August 26 and end on Monday, December 7. Final exams will take place December 8-11, 2020.

As of right now, we hope to be able to make a decision by the end of October.

You will automatically be registered for all required classes according to your program. You will have the opportunity to indicate interest and preferences for elective and optional classes through an online form, which we will be sending in early August. New MM students should note that they will not be able to register for classes until after placement exams. We are in the process of developing the schedule of classes for the Fall. Our plan is to have a detailed class schedule by the week of August 17, and individual student schedules will be in Canvas before the first day of classes.

Yes. Financial aid awards will be emailed by July 29.

Yes. The $3,000 yearly Comprehensive Fee has been adjusted to $1,500 for 2020–21.

All students are required to have suitable health insurance before arriving on campus for classes. Please refer to the email from ResLife and the Dean regarding information to opt-in to health insurance provided by the school.

The Colburn School bills for the comprehensive fee in August and payment is due September 1, 2020. The fee is not divided up over two semesters. However, Colburn offers a variety of payment plan options for students. Please refer to the Dean’s email regarding the comprehensive fee for more detailed information.

Yes. The faculty are planning a chamber music curriculum that will facilitate learning and preparing repertoire. More information will be sent out regarding this at a later date.

Yes. Orchestra will continue to meet but the experience will be different from the usual rehearsal/performance model. We will take this time to focus on individual and group preparation centered around, but not limited to: orchestral excerpts, score study, mock auditions, and audition repertoire. The remote orchestra class will vary according to instrument and/or instrument group.

Yes. We plan to have a master class program that includes a small number of public master classes that are livestreamed as well as studio specific master classes.

Yes. We are planning that students will be able to complete the requirements via streaming or pre-recorded recitals.


Some of our programs already have an extension process (see handbook). For other programs, primarily degree programs, this will be handled on a case by case basis with the applied teacher and Dean.

In general, our policy is that we do not grant deferrals. Understanding that these are extraordinary times, students that feel they have circumstances that would merit an exception should contact the Dean directly.

We are working on a virtual textbook database to be incorporated with Canvas. Should hard copies of texts or books be required for a class, faculty will work to ensure that texts are available to purchase regardless of location.

Due to our small student size, we anticipate being able to schedule classes in such a way that all students are able to participate fully in the curriculum.

If this is the first time you will be on an I-20 and will be enrolling in a school in the United States for the very first time, your I-20 will be issued to you once there is an official announcement that the Colburn School will be resuming in-person classes. For those of you that are having your SEVIS records transferred to Colburn from another school and/or are starting in another educational level within Colburn, please contact Christine Tanabe directly for the latest information on your status. The same goes for all students currently on an I-20 with Colburn and have plans to continue their full-time studies at Colburn for the 2020–21 academic year.

Classes will not be automatically recorded. Teachers will determine whether it is appropriate to record classes on an individual basis.

Students are expected to be fully present and participate in class. Our attendance policy for online classes will require that the camera be on and the student’s full face be visible.

Yes. Our two psychotherapists and physical therapist will be available at no cost via virtual sessions. We will also be planning additional online wellness programming throughout the semester.

Yes. We have a variety of resources available while we are online, including access to our books, scores, and parts; digital resources; interlibrary loans; research assistance; and course reserves (all course material will be available through your individual pages on Canvas). More specific information will be provided to students soon.

Yes, we will have a limited number of remote student worker opportunities. Opportunities will be sent out via email.

While we anticipate that the building may be open for limited access or activities, it will be dependent on guidelines determined by the government and health officials. We are closely following the protocols and procedures recommended from the ongoing research for safe interactions while teaching music, and we will be looking closely at what is feasible at Colburn for the fall semester.

While we anticipate that the building may be open for limited access or activities, it will be dependent on guidelines determined by the government and health officials. We are in the process of putting safety protocols in place that would allow us to provide practice spaces to students living in LA who need access to instruments, such as percussionists and pianists, and we will have further information by the start of the fall semester.

Online Audition

Percussionist with mallets sitting down around marimbas and timpani
Due to the global health situation, the Colburn Conservatory’s audition process will take place online and not on campus in Los Angeles.

Those applicants invited to participate in the online audition process will be notified by mid-to-late December.  The exact online process will vary by instrument and may include a combination of the following:

  • An online lesson with faculty
  • An online meeting with faculty
  • A Zoom audition with a panel of faculty
  • An interview with administration
  • English testing and interviews (for non-native speakers)

Detailed information about this process will be shared with applicants in December in their invitation letter.

Studies in Conducting

Salonen Conducting Fellows

The Colburn School is pleased to announce the addition of the Negaunee Conducting Program to the Colburn Conservatory, led by world-renowned composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen.

The Salonen Conducting Fellows will pursue a Diploma with a conducting emphasis. The Fellows will study directly with Salonen and serve as preparatory conductors for the flagship Colburn Orchestra. They will also conduct the Zipper Outreach Orchestra, Colburn’s performing ensemble for its community engagement activities, and the Concerto Forum Showcase, an annual public concert that features soloists from the Conservatory of Music. A maximum of three students will participate in the program in any given year to allow ample podium time and access to Salonen.

Additionally, these Fellows will serve as assistants to Maestro Salonen at the Philharmonia Orchestra, where they will lead the orchestra in both its residency series and designated tour dates. The Fellows will have the opportunity to collaborate with other young artists on the Philharmonia’s Emerging Artists program, designed to connect young artists to the wider life of the Philharmonia; work with Philharmonia’s management to develop and produce Salonen’s flagship projects; and serve as assistant conductors to Salonen for his international engagements with the Philharmonia, other orchestras, opera houses, tours, and festivals.

In keeping with the Colburn Conservatory model, students will receive a full scholarship to cover tuition, room, and board.

Graduate Studies in Chamber Music

Graduate Chamber Ensemble-in-Residence

The Chamber Ensemble-in-Residence program is open to pre-formed groups with significant experience and recognition as an ensemble. The program is two years in length (no extensions granted), and individual ensemble members may enroll in either the AD or MM program-Chamber Music Emphasis. In general, the ensemble should be three or more players; duos should send a letter of inquiry before applying. Only one group will be accepted to the residency program per year.

The Chamber Ensemble will receive primarily group applied lessons, with occasional individual lessons in support of ensemble playing. In addition, there will be weekly chamber coachings with Conservatory faculty and guest artists. The ensemble will perform a minimum of one recital per semester at the school and will be an ambassador for Colburn in the local community as well as mentors for younger ensembles at the Colburn School. Ensemble members may be rotated into Conservatory orchestra cycles.

Interested ensembles should contact Admissions for pre-screening repertoire requirements and additional application details. Groups will submit ensemble recordings for prescreening; the live audition will include an ensemble audition and abbreviated solo auditions for each ensemble member.


Graduate Programs

Master of Music

The Master of Music (MM) degree program is a two-year curriculum that includes coursework in music theory, composition, and music history which supports the student’s development as a performer.  A Master of Music student may also elect to take pedagogy coursework through the Colburn Teaching Fellows program. Students must have completed a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent prior to enrolling. Students completing this program are prepared for further graduate study at the doctoral level or for employment within the profession. It is possible to be admitted to the MM as a member of an existing chamber group into the Graduate Chamber Ensemble-in-Residence program.

Artist Diploma

The Artist Diploma (AD) program focuses on the development of highly- skilled performing musicians. The AD is a minimum of two years and a maximum of four years in length, with a minimum requirement of four recitals.  Students must have completed a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent to enroll in the Artist Diploma. Students completing this program are prepared for further study at the post-graduate level or for employment within the profession. In addition to performance, there is a Chamber Music emphasis within the Artist Diploma to which a student may be admitted. See Graduate Chamber Ensemble-in-Residence for details of this emphasis.

Professional Studies Certificate

The Professional Studies Certificate (PSC) program emphasizes professional and pre-professional activities outside of the Colburn School. It is designed for students seeking intensive training in their applied area, often with specific goals in mind (such as preparation for competitions or auditions). Students are not required to have completed a baccalaureate degree but must have completed an undergraduate diploma or certificate to matriculate. Students completing this program are prepared for employment within the profession.