Over the years, after a performance or talk I have given about writing for young players, composers and teachers have approached me with the same questions: “Where can I find a composer for my students?” “Where can I find students to write for?” With each query, I list the various teacher and composer organizations, but say that essentially they are on their own. Really, it’s like the Wild West, for these organizations have no real ability to sort out of their memberships those musicians interested in such ventures.
So, where does a composer go to hook up with a young ensemble? How do teachers find someone who would work well with their goals and their ensembles’ personalities? How do we connect educators interested in music by living composers with those of us interested in writing music for the next generation?
Perhaps it is time to take matters into our own hands and create something like match.com for facilitating the creation and playing of new music by young players. Ideally, one could go there and lists one’s stats that would be stored in a searchable database.
For instance, the composers’ information would include their experience with young players, their interests (residencies? commissions? selling existing music?), along with the level and mediums in which they collaborate with younger players (choral? chamber? strings? beginners? advanced?). Also, that ugly but necessary item of fee would be addressed: composers could list if they are willing to work for reduced fees or free in exchange for numerous performances or recordings or some other worthwhile barter.
A similar database could be made for the educators. Listed would be: their levels of experience in working with composers, their willingness/ability to fundraise and/or pay, the format in which they want to work with a composer (commission? residency? performance of existing music?), and the instrumentation and playing level for which they are looking to find music.
Hey, not a bad idea, eh? And it’s not original, either. Evan Tobias of musiced.net has been talking about starting up a website just for this purpose. Also, some composer organizations have discussed doing projects similar to this as well. But nothing is happening. For, like it or not, even something this clear-cut takes time and money.
So, where do we go from here? Do we go to the AMC, ACF, MTC or MTNA? Or do some of us scrape away at the grassroots level and make something of it on our own? Who is going to step up to this plate? Someone needs to; the potential is huge.