Summer Programs Abroad AEF Florence



Florence, May 29th – June 26th

AEF Summer Programs are 4-week intensive Liberal and Performing Arts Programs, for students who are ready to be inspired by a city so rich in art and culture. AEF Summer Programs include Liberal Arts, Italian Art, Culture and Language courses, Opera, Classical Music, Jazz, Dance courses and Music Ensembles, each combining a cultural immersion in the City of the Renaissance and professional performing opportunities along with regular lectures and on-site classes, which will enhance the academic and personal experience of students. Field trips and ensembles are an essential part of the curricular activities, as they are occasions for students to explore new locations, meet locals and interact with the community, and live a wonderful experience as international performers.

Course Offerings

Students may choose 1 or 2 of the following Course Options (from 3 U.S. up to 8 U.S. Credits). All Courses will be offered with a minimum of 5 students.


1. Art History - 3/4 US credits

This course explores artwork produced in Italy from the 14th century until 17th century. It will focus on the relationship of the works of art to their cultural and historical importance in the time period of when they were produced. Emphasis will be placed on the function of the artwork as well as its relationship to the artworks patron, artist and/or location. In particular, this course will focus on four different spaces and audiences of patronage: the public piazza, the family chapel, the guilds and the domestic space. Our objective is to understand the goal - and thus ultimately its meaning - for each different patron (the city, a group, a religious leader, a family or a female) in relation to its space and its audience. Finally, because we are in Florence, when possible, the works of art will be studied through on-site observation and lectures.

2. Italian Culture through Language - 3/4 US credits 

The course will teach the main grammar topics of Italian language, which will be put into practice both in classrooms (conversations, role plays, games, songs) and in selected locations. The program will also include site visits and academic activities in markets and supermarkets, restaurant and cafeterias, exhibitions and museums, historical buildings and locations of cultural interest. By the end of the course the students will be able to use proper grammar and vocabulary to communicate in basc interactions both in the written and spoken language: ask questions, ask for information, talk about their life and family, order in a restaurant, talk about present, past and future events. They will also able to understand basic Italian and reach level A1 of the European Framework of Reference for Languages.

3. Italian Language for Singers - 3/4 US credits

The course will teach the main grammar topics of Italian language and will practice them mostly in classrooms (conversations, role plays, games, songs). The program also includes some site visits and academic activities in cafeterias, libraries and shops. Goal of the course is to develop four main linguistic skills (listening, speaking, writing and reading) giving a special focus on Italian diction.

4. Travel Photography - 3/4 US credits

This class is an introduction to photographic technique and photo management through the visual experience of some of the main aspects of Italian culture displayed in Florence, one of the most important Italian cities. Weeks 1, 2 and 3 will begin with a technical and theoretical lesson introducing the weekly program; followed by field trips and photo management in class. Three field trips will focus on Italian culture and will cover 3 main topics: architecture, people, still-life. Week 4 will be dedicated to organizing the best images in a short presentation which will be displayed at school at the end of the course.

5. Painting - 3/4 US credits

Studying painting in Florence means to be surrounded by the greatly inspiring artistic and cultural context of this city, and to discover the Renaissance art workshop as an organizational and learning model. However, a contemporary version of this amazing legacy should also include an open methodology, which respects students’ inclinations and expectations, so that they can be guided to the creation of their personal artistic path, based on a solid academic discipline. In this course students will cover all painting techniques - watercolor, acrylic, oil and mixed techniques - as well as the creation of all materials used in an art workshop - how to make canvas stretcher frames and how to prepare canvas and other supports. In this course they will be guided through the composition and use of colors and techniques, to the creation of their own personal and self-aware interpretation in painting.


Music students are required to audition for one of three ensembles offered in the Summer: Chamber Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Choir (Vocal Ensemble).

1. Contemporary Dance - 3/4 US credits

This course can be considered a true full immersion into the various expressive languages of contemporary dance. The method adopted is mainly the Limon-Cunningham technique; however, the European influence is also taken into account in developing this fascinating discipline. The course is held by three different teacher-choreographers and will cover the study of fundamental movements, the intensification of the basic techniques, and the acquisition of the language of contemporary dance through a personalized choreographic approach.

2. Dancing with Florence (Choreography Lab) - 3/4 US credits 

Four weeks dancing, creating, and artistically exploring Florence, Italy! This in-depth class includes learning, creating, and performing original site-specific choreography that is informed by the art, culture, history, and architecture of Florence. Students will gain professional performance and choreographic experience by performing throughout the city as well as participating in two professional festivals, the Florence Dance Festival and the Jazzit Music Festival. 

3. Jazz Improvisation - 3/4 US credits

AEF summer Jazz Improvisation is a seminar that combines traditional lectures with master classes held by AEF faculty and visiting faculty on the art of the improvisation. International musicians guest speakers will talk about Jazz Improvisation, share their vision and the peculiar perspective according to their instrument. The class is an introduction to improvisation techniques for jazz instrumentalists. It includes use of modes (major & melodic minor), symmetrical scales, and arpeggios in improvisation. Emphasis on the development of an idiomatic jazz style through the transcription and analysis of recorded solos by jazz masters. The course also explores several advanced techniques in jazz improvisation. Topics include harmonic superimposition, playing “out”, and polyrhythm and cross-rhythms.

4. Opera Workshop  - 3/4 US credits

The course prepares students for the performances of the AEF Summer Program, in which the material, style, repertoire, technique, diction and staging of Italian opera are studied. The course is a co-teaching between soprano Polly Cornelius, Professor of Opera Workshop and Coordinator of Vocal Studies at Elon University; soprano Susanna Rigacci, professor of Vocal Technique at Accademia Europea di Firenze, and Maestro Cristiano Manzoni, Italian Diction and Opera workshop teacher at Accademia Europea di Firenze. The students’ performances will be held in June in Florence and at the Jazzit Music Festival.

5. Business of Performing Arts: internship - 3/4 US credits

The Business of Performing Arts internship introduces fundamentals concepts as well as innovative practices of event production and management: it combines a core of lecture classes and intensive immersion in the production, organization and management of events. Topics addressed in class include profit and nonprofit events, sustainable events, zero impact events, community events. Lectures will be completed by intensive work experience in events, concerts and festivals in Firenze and outside. At the end of the course students will organize and produce an event/concert staged by the whole class on the last day of the course.

6. Musicianship - 3/4 US credits

AEF Summer Musicianship is a seminar that combines traditional lectures with the rigor of structural and subjective listening exercises held by AEF faculty and visiting faculty. The course materials entail the components and phenomenological processes by which the composer, improviser and performer creates and identifies musical information. The basic aspects of the musical language and relevant vocabulary per genre comprise the primary part of the course with ample discussion of methods for the development of the musical ear. Methods include traditional structural measuring, data-driven and information-based modalities as well as subjective modes of listening including concepts of colouristic theory, tendency, veridical familiarity, topics of prediction and perception.

7. Towards a New Music. A New Philosophy of Science in Music.

This new course describes the premise that the experience of music is far-reaching beyond the ordinary theoretical, aesthetic or critical descriptions. Drawing from readings in Philosophy of Music, Phenomenology and Structuralist thinkers, Aesthetics, Physics and Acoustics and Color Theory, students engage in the study of music and musical language from these vantage points. Correlating musical phenomena to basic laws in physics, language, and culture, standard topics in music theory such as the harmonic series, tuning systems, the basis of tonality, its simple forms and complexities, linearity, polyphony and proportion are brought to new life seen from a perspective of a larger lens. Studies in the morphology of sound, gravity, binary relations, multi-dimensional spatial-temporal states, ancient and medieval concepts of Aristotelian potential and actuality and the calculus of music all bring light to a new musical reality. Students are asked to evaluate and act upon their listening experiences to a wide variety of music as the course draws the question of what it means to create a new music from a larger consciousness and cognizance.