NextNotes Lab is a student-driven offshoot of the flagship NextNotes® High School Music Creator Awards program designed for teen composer/creators who want to create a localized community of composers/creators, performers, and listeners that are all excited about creating brand new, original music.

Use our newly created, comprehensive NextNotes Lab Toolkit to get started!

The origin story: Seeing the surprising number of high-school-aged composers in the area, composer Austin Kraft decided they should collaborate, and so founded this student-run composer ensemble. (And he somehow managed to do this while swamped with the average high-school-student workload.)  Austin says, “My driving idea behind the creation of the Lab is that someone who has written a composition has the right to hear real people perform it. As a composer who has had great opportunities to hear my music performed and to receive insightful feedback from other composers, I felt indebted to the local creative community. NextNotes Lab provides a non-competitive space for all young composers to experiment and to take ownership of their art.”

A typical meeting for NextNotes Lab takes place at a member’s house. Makeshift music stands (i.e. decorative plate holders) are often devised. During the meetings, composers present revised drafts of compositions and receive feedback on notation and style. Beyond performing and discussing their music, they use the meeting times to figure out future logistics. The Lab prides itself on being largely self-sustaining: all composers/creators and performers are teenagers.

If you’re interested in joining or starting a NextNotes Lab in your community, email ACF Programs at!