Sonic Spark Lab is a hands-on, arts-integrated program that teaches students to engage with their creativity, using curiosity to grow their imagination and to build an idea from a spark to an artistic realization. In a group setting, students are supported in the creation of original musical works rooted in their personal identity, lived experiences, and community history.

Creativity is ranked among the most in-demand skills for job preparedness. SSL uses music composition, performance, and improvisation as a vehicle for developing creative thinking and complex problem-solving. Students develop tools for approaching academic and professional life with a flexible, adaptable, creative mindset. 

The program also encourages and supports students to create original musical works that pertain to their personal identity, lived experiences, and community history. Self-esteem and confidence are nurtured through said connection, as well as through creative collaboration, rooted in a recognition of each student’s unique talents, mindfulness, personal agency/empowerment, and collective decision making.

Program curricula is developed in collaboration with classroom teachers.

Program structure

  • Serves middle or high school students
  • Programs run for 12 weeks to the full year
  • 2 single class periods or 1 extended class period per week is ideal
  • Full-year partnerships result in student projects designed for community-wide participation and impact


"Thank you for making the Sonic Spark composition class a reality for [our son]. It was a highlight of his 5th grade year. He learned so much and has gained confidence; we see him participating in discussions and sharing his opinions more freely. We really appreciated the scholarship both semesters!"
"I am extremely appreciative for all of the time, work, and dedication that the Sonic Spark team has given to my children. It has made a wonderful difference and a lasting impact on their creativity, confidence and learning."

Featured School

Wadleigh Secondary
SchoolHarlem, Manhattan
Sonic Spark Lab

Summary: ACO Teaching Artists met twice per week with a middle school band class and a 9th grade band class via zoom during the pandemic year. Students learned to use Digital Audio Workstations and to relate their creative efforts to these new instruments - which they learned completely via Zoom.

The students spent the first part of the year learning a wide range of approaches and processes for sound exploration, which culminated in each student creating an original piece to serve as their very own entrance music. They spent the second part of the year connecting their art to their community, using letters written by classmates to local and national politicians as source material for collaborative works. Many of the resulting works were featured in the Wadleigh year-end showcase and 7 student works won awards in the Little Kids Rock Songwriting Exhibition.


  • Students found deeper connections to their instruments, and their community than would have been possible otherwise
  • Notably higher attendance on Sonic Spark Lab days
  • Students gained a sense of accomplishment and purpose within their school community

From the Music Teacher, Roslyn White

American Composers Orchestra has engaging teaching artists who the students easily relate to and connect with. The music students work with ACO deepens their understanding of themselves, promotes creative expression, and encourages productive collaboration. It has been such a positive experience partnering with ACO over the past two years. They find ways to supplement the work teachers are already doing in class in an interactive and easily digestible format which encourages students to take chances and have fun making music.

For Parents and Students

ACO SONIC SPARK LAB is a hands-on program that teaches students to engage with their creativity, to use curiosity to grow their imagination and to build an idea from just a spark to artistic realization.

With an emphasis on project-based production, tech and song-writing, Sonic Spark Lab is a fun and effective approach to building creative capacity and introducing the creative arts to New York City Middle School and High School students.

Current in-person classes link students from NYC to cities across the U.S. – use the button below for more info.

Classes are open to:
7th-11th graders (11-17yr olds)