Every year the New York Philharmonic helps hundreds of children transform into composers! Children with or without previous musical training create, notate, and experience their very own music performed by Philharmonic musicians — sometimes the full Orchestra — with Philharmonic Teaching Artists assisting as mentors and scribes.


The New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers Program® (VYC) — founded by Jon Deak (composer and former New York Philharmonic Associate Principal Bass) — is a program that celebrates children’s creativity by providing them with the tools they need to transform their musical ideas into finished compositions. Students are encouraged to use composing as a tool for self-expression and discovery, eventually hearing their original musical works rehearsed and performed by professional soloists, ensembles, and sometimes the full Orchestra!

  • Goals

    VYC was created to:

    1. • Empower children and celebrate their creative potential
    2. • Enrich and refresh the orchestral repertoire and all concert music
    3. • Cultivate an empathetic awareness of the world at large through exposure to a wide variety of musical genres and artwork
    4. • Foster a richly supportive community, nurturing students as they mature through school years and beyond

  • Our Process

    Our Teaching Artist faculty approaches musical instruction with an emphasis on creativity, using inquiry-based learning and social and emotional learning (SEL) to encourage each student’s individual artistic voice. Teaching Artists mentor students by asking the child questions, providing creativity-based prompts, games, and activities that reinforce musical concepts, and igniting the child’s creativity and sense of agency. The aim is to provide children with a creative respite in which they can process and artistically respond to the world around them as true artists.


Our Programs

There are a variety of VYC programs that take place in New York City and around the world.

  • VYC Schools | For Grades 4 & 5 (NYC)

    Our VYC Schools program works with children in grades 4 and 5 at individual school sites. Teaching Artists work with small classes over 12 sessions. Individual sessions are also scheduled for a Teaching Artist to work with students one-on-one, followed by a dress rehearsal and school assembly in which the students’ compositions are performed by a professional ensemble.

  • VYC Bridge | For Ages 10+ (NYC)

    VYC Bridge serves middle-school students age 10 and older; while many are graduates of VYC Schools, the program is open to all children in the community. Over one semester, VYC Bridge students experience more individualized attention, offering them the opportunity to master their technical and creative independence.

    Both the VYC Schools and VYC Bridge programs provide opportunities for students to write pieces that are performed by New York Philharmonic musicians and guest ensembles. Select students are invited to compose pieces to be premiered by the full orchestra.

  • VYC International and Affiliate Programs (Worldwide)

    The Philharmonic has launched several VYC affiliate programs worldwide whom we collaborate with via Musical Postcards, in which New York City–based Very Young Composers share their creations for varied ensembles and respond to compositions by their international counterparts. Very Young Composers become creative ambassadors, learning to listen, create, and share from a place of compassionate curiosity while building awareness of the world outside their home.


Listen Up! Very Young Composers

Check out what our Very Young Composers have to say about their hopes, dream, and crucial global issues, all through original composition!

From Our Teaching Artists

Find inspiration and get creative prompts to spur musical composition — perfect for children with or without musical training.

Very Young Composers 25th Anniversary

Join program founder Jon Deak as he reflects on the inception of the Very Young Composers program and its growth to an international phenomenon.

Get Involved

Join the VYC community!

For more details on how to become a Very Young Composer, join our VYC Teaching Artist faculty, or become a VYC partner, please contact us at vyc@nyphil.org.

Major support for the New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers Program is provided by Susan and Elihu Rose.

Additional funding is provided by Muna and Basem Hishmeh; Mr. and Mrs. A. Slade Mills, Jr.; and Billy Rose Foundation.