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.
Over the past two weeks I’ve been going over lists of composers and their repertoire to see if I could find some common threads that stood out as being both important and new in some way. I would like to take you through my process and show you why I nominated the three works that I did.
I’ve been asked to help add two or three 21st century works (scores and recordings) to an anthology that would be “representative of recent developments” and “work well in the classroom.” The second part shouldn’t be too difficult. The first part, on the other hand…
Save for the ubiquitous concern about achieving the premiere of a new work (or the commission of a work not yet written), the issue that seems to garner the most attention from composers is the generating of repeat performances of their existing works.
The need for greater programming of women composers is, of course, strong and obvious enough that nothing I could say could add to the argument. What little I can do to help the issue along I have done in the hopes that with information comes progress.
We hear things. We hear things no one else can hear, and sometimes we’re not sure whether or not we can hear them either, but we think we can hear them so intensely that we end up hearing… something, and that will do.
Since music is such a temporal art, it’s rare when composers aren’t talking about time in one way or another; whether the topic is metric modulation or missing deadlines, the ever-present clock is never far from our thoughts.