As crazy as it sounds, even with the dorm living quarters and cafeteria food (not to mention the powder-blue uniforms), summer camp promises to be a very satisfying place for a composer.
Recent composer-based and concert-based activity has gotten me thinking about that nebulous time and space between the point where a piece of music has been created and the point where a listener/audience member first experiences that same piece.
This was not a “kingmaker” contest, but one that truly strove for diversity and a wide net. The winners (all eleven of them!) were announced on June 15, and I had the privilege of speaking with Hilary Hahn herself about the contest.
After all this time, we still haven’t figured out that there is enough room in our culture for each style, each genre, each musical language to not only stand on its own, but for others to present and interpret the music in new and unique ways.
I’ve had several “adventures” in my life that on the surface seem relatively unrelated, but have ultimately been spiraling me towards where I am today. My current visit to Los Angeles has been unearthing old and forgotten memories of one of those adventures.
Feasibility, relevancy, and sustainability will continue to raise their ugly heads as the three primary concepts that are endemic in composition education today, and all three point to the necessity of emphasizing entrepreneurial skills throughout a student’s time in school.
A large majority of creative artists who will be shaping music will at some point study composition at the collegiate level and, whether or not their work will exist because of or in reaction to their experiences in academia, we as a community need to be aware of the deficiencies that exist and strive to improve them.
Most composers don’t realize that there are national standards, created by the National Association for Music Education (formerly MENC), that outline the skills that primary and secondary music educators should be able to teach to their students in the public schools and that “composing and arranging music within specified guidelines” is currently National Standard #4.
Three of the most important concepts that come up continually in regard to composition education are feasibility, relevancy, and sustainability.
As interesting as the previous discussions have been, they only scratch the surface of what can be done to gain a better self-knowledge of who we are as a music community and ultimately expand our audiences and their appreciation of our work.