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Composition and Music Theory Lessons

Synthase is an online school for music creators that strives to unleash the power of every student's musical creativity. At Synthase, we offer a variety of workshops, classes, and lessons for aspiring students, and our professional teaching artists are dedicated to helping our students reach their musical goals.

What We Teach:

  • Writing music to be played by singers/instrumentalists
  • Making beats in a DAW (such as Ableton, SoundTrap)
  • Rearrange your favorite tune to be played on your instrument
  • Musical form
  • Counterpoint 
  • Tonal harmony
  • What composers are doing today
  • Additionally, we offer instruction to help students excel on college applications, as well as exams such as AP Music Theory, CM, all levels of ABRSM and RCM, and more.

Schedule a Free Consultation Session:

Interested in taking private lessons with us? Fill out the form below and we will reach out to you to schedule a free 30-minute consultation session. During the consultation, we will learn about your musical interests and goals and give you recommendations accordingly. For students under 18: please make sure one parent is present at the consultation session.

Our Educators:

Nate May

Synthase founder Nate May (b. 1987) is a versatile American composer, keyboardist, and educator whose music has been heard across four continents: in jazz clubs and DIY spaces, on national television, in museums and modern dance venues, and on mainstage classical events at New York’s Sheen Center and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. His chamber, choral, and orchestral music, characterized by textural intricacy, rhythmic drive, and repurposed sounds, has been performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble Dal Niente, Wild UP, the Yale Philharmonia, Patchwork Duo, and Quartetto Indaco. Also an award-winning educator, he has served as a teaching artist with the American Composers Orchestra and taught courses at Yale University, Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, Montclair State University, the Walden School, and the Thurnauer school. He holds a doctorate in composition from Yale, supported in part by a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He also earned degrees from Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (M.M., Composition) and the University of Michigan (B.F.A., Jazz and Contemplative Studies). His teachers have included Aaron Jay Kernis, David Lang, Christopher Theofanidis, Geri Allen, Stephen Rush, and Michael Fiday.

Huijuan Ling

Huijuan (Susie) Ling is a composer and keyboardist currently based in Durham, NC. She likes to draw her inspiration outside the boundaries of the wobbly concept of Western art music and enjoys the process of discovering and negotiating a sound world that feels authentic both to her and her collaborators. Her music has been performed by ensembles and musicians such as the Utari Duo, Cracow Golden Quintet, Ciompi Quartet, Yarn/Wire, Imani Winds, JACK Quartet, Line Upon Line Percussion, and others. In 2022, her woodwind quintet “Toward a Rediscovery” won the first prize in the fifth International “New Vision” Composition Competition from the New York Dance & Arts Innovations; in 2021, she was awarded the William Klenz Prize in Composition from Duke University; in 2020, she was among the recipients of the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and in 2019, her harpsichord solo “Those Cold Winter Rains” won the third prize in the SIMM 2019 International Harpsichord Composition Competition. Huijuan is currently a PhD candidate in Composition at Duke University, studying composition with Stephen Jaffe and harpsichord/organ with Robert Parkins. She received her MM at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and her BM at Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

Summary of Studio Policy & Rates:

  • Our private lessons focus on theory, composition, or some combination of the two. Please communicate your musical goals with us well in advance, especially if any exam preparation is involved.
  • All lessons are held online, and will meet over a video platform. Additionally, to ensure the best possible quality, please check the technical requirements list in our full studio policies.
  • We expect students and families to communicate clearly if there will be any deviations from their scheduled lesson times. A make-up credit is given for cancellations with at least 24 hours notice or in case of emergency, pending the teacher’s availability. All makeup credits expire within 30 days.
  • Our rate is $90 per 55-minute lesson. Fees are prepaid in packages of four lessons, billed through a system called Fons. Packages will be re-billed automatically upon the depletion of the current package.
  • If you would like to stop lessons, you must let your teacher know before the last lesson of a package.