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The Kennedy Center

The National Symphony Orchestra
National Trustees

Summer Music Institute

June 29 - July 27, 2020

About SMI

Every summer, approximately 60 students (ages 15-20) from all over the United States, as well as a number of other countries, meet in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center to attend the National Symphony Orchestra's Summer Music Institute (SMI). The program is designed to expose and prepare students for a 21st Century orchestral career.

This 4-week tuition-free program includes:

  • Private lessons taught by a member of the NSO
  • Chamber music coaching by NSO musicians
  • Master classes and seminars
  • Side-by-side orchestra rehearsals with the NSO
  • Attendance at selected rehearsal and performances of the NSO
  • Participation in the NSO Summer Music Institute Orchestra conducted by Abel Pereira
  • Performance opportunities in DC metropolitan area, including on the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall stage
  • Exposure to internationally-renowned conductors, soloists, and musicians

Repertoire to be announced by September

Each student accepted into the program attends tuition-free, which includes housing, lessons, and local transportation; sometimes provided by the Volunteer Council for the NSO, during their stay. Round-trip transportation to and from Washington, DC is not included. Additionally, a stipend for cost of food during the institute is not provided. If you need assistance for travel costs and/or food costs during the 4 weeks, you are encouraged to apply for financial aid by the application deadline.

Questions: Contact NSO Education (202) 416-8820 or

SMI 2018 Video


Two flutists play with orchestra on stage.
“I have seen myself and those around me achieve tremendous growth as musicians and human beings throughout this program. I can say with absolute certainty that SMI has changed me, and I have a profound connection with this program.”
Sanem Reinhardt, violin, SMI 2016, 2017, & 2018
“Just the sheer proximity to such successful musicians is influential enough. But the opportunity to actually join in in conversation with them is invaluable.”
Sophia Rightmer, cello, SMI 2017 & 2018
“I know that without the NSO Summer Music Institute, I wouldn't have discovered my passion for music. The program played a pivotal role in my musical development and I believe it has unique benefits that every young musician (whether they want to pursue a career in music or not) should experience. I have yet to see another American Symphony Orchestra with an education department so strongly committed and dedicated to the education/development of young talented musicians. I am extremely grateful and lucky to have been a part of the Summer Music Institute.”
Emilio Carlo, SMI 2011 & 2013
Member of inaugural Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra/Cincinnati Conservatory of Music Diversity Fellowship Class
“The connections I made during the institute proved to be invaluable to my careers as a symphony musician in Europe, as a pop musician touring the world, and my career as a music publisher in New York City. I highly recommend SMI for orchestral musicians looking to increase their repertoire, work in a professional setting, and network with musicians from around the globe.”
Samuel Price, trombone, SMI 2006 & 2007
Promotion Associate
Carl Fischer Music/Theodore Presser Company/BriLee Music
“I blossomed under the attention of the orchestral and chamber music faculty of SMI and am most grateful to the Institute for its support and encouragement.”
Toyin Spellman-Diaz, oboe, SMI 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995
Imani Winds

How To Apply

Online Application

The following materials are required for the SMI application:

  • Orchestral excerpts for instrument (Video Recording)
  • Solo piece (Video Recording)
  • One Recommendation from music teacher or conductor
  • Applicant's Musical Resumé
    (Sample of Musical Resume)

All application materials are to be uploaded onto the online application, which will be available fall 2019. There is a $30 non-refundable application fee. See the Program Description and Application Instructions below for further details.

Orchestra-only Program

Students living in the Washington, DC metro area or who can provide their own housing, can be considered to participate in the full orchestra portion only of the Summer Music Institute. Click here to learn more.

Other Resources

2020 Orchestral Excerpts by Instruments

Excerpts must be video recordings and can be recorded as single tracks or in one continuous track.

*Some pdf files will include blank pages in between excerpts, please check each page in the document for all required excerpts. Excerpts updated November 2019

If you are having trouble printing the excerpts, try downloading the document and printing from your machine or try a different browser-Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc. Please email or call if the issue persists.

View the 2019 Roster


Questions about accessibility or accommodations? Contact the Office of Accessibility directly at (202) 416-8727 (voice) or

If you have any questions, please contact the NSO Education Program at
(202) 416-8820 or by e-mail at