NextNotes Lab is a student-driven offshoot of the flagship NextNotes® High School Composition Awards program. Whereas NextNotes is nationwide, NextNotes Lab focuses on the Twin Cities community of young composers.

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. Adam Zahller, a Twin Cities composer/performer, offers great on-call mentorship at numerous Lab meetings. Beyond performing and discussing their compositions, they use the meeting times to figure out future logistics. The Lab prides itself on being largely self-sustaining: all composers and performers are teenagers.

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