Creating Composers Clinic

Education   •   October 1st, 2017

I would not be a professional, freelancing musician today if it were not for the band programs I participated in throughout middle school and high school. In Texas, it is not uncommon to spend thousands of hours throughout 7-12th grade practicing for and performing with the band. My directors offered us abundant musical opportunities, which often came at a sacrifice to them and their families due to the extremely long work hours they maintain throughout most of the school year, since there is no true “off-season” in music. Although it wasn’t until college that I found my passion of writing and composing music, I am incredibly grateful for the Grapevine High School band program, as well as my former band directors!

Giving Back

Aside from my sincere gratitude towards my education, last year I found myself wondering how my life would have been impacted if I had been exposed to composing earlier.  I decided to give back to the public school system by creating a supplemental “Creating Composers Workshop” to introduce the principles of composition to a group of 8th grade students at Hillwood Middle School in Keller ISD. Throughout eight weekly sessions, the students and I composed a collaborative composition for Saxophone Quartet, which was comprised, premiered and recorded by a group of their peers. We even teamed up with HMS Audio/Visual club to create a “music video” of the piece, which earned a finalist position in the 2017 Keller ISD Film Festival. In this video, each workshop participant’s picture is displayed, with the audio of their contribution playing underneath. The second half of the video features the entire composition, performed by the HMS Saxophone Quartet.

Parent Teacher Association “Reflections” Contest

Two of the HMS students also created their own individual compositions for the Parent/Teacher Association’s “Reflections” contest. To accomplish this – they applied the principles they learned in the workshop to compose their own compositions, as well as notated them in Finale, recruited performers, directed rehearsals and organized a recording session with me to capture their work for the contest. (I am proud to say – both students were presented with awards at the PTA meeting last fall, which was extremely well deserved!)

All in all, the 2016-2017 school year was a wonderful first attempt at providing composition instruction to public school students, which culminated in the spring at the 2017 Keller ISD Film Festival Awards Ceremony – an “Oscar” style event that took place at the Southlake Harkins Movie Theater.

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills

It is my hope to bring this workshop to more programs in the years to come, as I believe it adds value, effectively partners with directors in developing well-rounded musicians and fulfills several components of the TEKS, including:

  • student explains intervals

  • student identifies musical forms

  • student sight-reads simple music

  • student notates meter, rhythm, pitch and dynamics (by hand or in computer)

  • student creates rhythmic and melodic phrases

  • student arranges rhythmic and melodic phrases

  • student relates music to (history), to society and to culture

  • student evaluates the quality and effectiveness of music

At TCU, one of the most profound principles I learned about music education is to as much as possible – allow the music to do the educating.  My workshops are based on musical examples, which can be customized to the concert music students are currently working on in their programs.  I offer one session, three session and eight session lengths, suitable for 7-12th grade band students.  Many educators have invested in me over the past two decades, and it is my sincerest joy to have found a way to serve and contribute to our public school system.  Please visit my Education Page for more information!