Archive for the “Composers” Category

Composers’ natural allies are performers, listeners.
And Studio Teachers.

Kids study their instrument around the world in formalized settings, then finish up with a degree or two from Conservatory or University.   Their studio teacher, with whom they study one-on-one, personifies  their instrument, and serves as  a siphon for the selection of  pieces the student will spend many practice-hours on.

Though it’s true that great swatches of ‘educational music’ are weak, forgettable, composing repertoire works for  developing musicians  can be  a strategic  ( if occasional)  goal  for alert composers.   Having a piece selected for an organization’s  state-wide, national or international  repertoire list  means a  tangible boost for that work.  And  a useful spotlight for the composer.    

It also means that someone musically sophisticated is paying attention not just to the virtuoso, but to the budding  performer.

My article “Embracing New Music” In the current issue of American Music Teacher  magazine invites the teacher-performer to take a fresh, positive  look at recent works  they and their students will enjoy spending time with.  (The music excerpts are all by composers other than myself.)  

It recapitulates the ebb and flow of interest in newer music over the past century,  and  also probes the reasons  why studio teachers might be reluctant  to include very-new works for study as repertoire — meaning something the student will spend many hours on,  not just sight-read.   All of this is presented positively,  with the sense of excitement at the potential of a major discovery.

Included is a sidebar on the issue of how a composer gets “branded”.

Read it, then  comment.  

Comments No Comments »

June 15, 2008
Back last night from the gigantic four-day  gathering in Denver of more than 3,000 folks  involved in today’s worlds   of music, theatre and dance.  
       The scope was  huge and the slant was definitely towards  identifying and speaking to the needs  of organizations, rather than those of  the individual artist.    That said, there was still  a fair amount of useful – essential – information  presented for the composer.
In a following post  I’ll get to my thoughts on the general  tenor and slant of NPAC.  Here I concentrate on summarizing some  the  preliminary findings of the national survey of composers just completed (a project jointly supported by  American Music Center, American Composers Forum and Meet The Composer, with essential input from ASCAP and BMI):
-         1,331 composers took the survey. 
         Participation was voluntary, via  the internet.  Anyone who believes s/he is a composer was eligible to answer – no distinction between ‘composer-in-embryo’ and ‘professional’. 
-         We’re mostly concentrated in urban areas.  (No surprise.)      But every state sent in at least one response. 
-         We’re a highly educated bunch.  85% of us have a college degree, and many continue beyond the baccalaureate. 
-         We’re close to 80%  white male.  Women comprise about 20% of respondents.
-         Income:  While c.  6% of respondents report annual income in six figures, the average  annual income  – from all sources -  is  $46,000.   Income specifically from composing activities  averagrd $7,000.
              (Composing activities include commissions,  grants and prizes,  royalties, honoraria  for leading masterclasses and concert Q&A, etc.)
Identifying  composers’ quality of life issues are also part of this survey – an important part.   Virtually the first item to appear on the power-point itemization  was that We Have No Union ( or guild)  -  to  watch over the profession,  establish an accepted fee schedule, assist in obtaining healthcare, etc.

I made the point from the floor that the organizations sponsoring this survey must  make it their mission to increase public awareness of our  existence as a profession.    (This means from every standpoint, including that of the IRS. )

The survey will continue, focusing on the four largest urban areas, according to the now-established composer concentrations. 

Comments 1 Comment »