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Musical Construction: Composition


Contemporary classical composition • writing for the theater (opera, musical theater, film) • Songwriting/pop and rock • film scoring


My philosophy in teaching composition

Composition – constructing musical thought – should be a core learning activity for all musicians regardless of specialty. We learn best from the doing, applying concepts in a practical fashion, and when we have a stake in the result.

Composition is a unifying activity, demanding creativity, critical thinking, the application of pertinent knowledge bases (e.g. theory, analysis), discipline, a willingness to be open-minded and playful in searching for solutions, and bravery. It seems obvious that those who want to be composers would benefit from composition study, but what about performers? By practicing composition we humanize composers and their work, gain insight into, and appreciation for, their efforts while stripping away the shellac of history and familiarity that too often turns the urgent classic into the mundane warhorse. Composing is about thinking, feeling, expressing, and decision-making. So is performing. Engaging in creative pursuits in all forms is, in and of itself, “practice” and develops discipline.

I teach composition in many genre-disciplines and different levels. My students write contemporary classical, rock songs, musicals, film scores, and jazz. Whether advanced or just beginning, my job is to expose them to good literature, help them develop the tools to learn and practice their craft, and support them so they gain confidence in expressing themselves. I do not to prioritize one style or genre above another. What matters is the ability to discern, analyze, problem solve, be curious, and express.

For more detail see:  Curriculum Vitae