Best Composers Online Institute and best creative learning.
By Sharon Bernstein Kaplan (composer, piano teacher, member of the National Federation of Music Clubs and the Music Teachers National Association)
Every teacher has heard a zillion times that it is important to encourage your students to improvise and compose. And every one of us has asked where to find the time – technique, theory, repertoire in a 30- or 45-minute lesson and we’re supposed to teach composition, too?! And some kids just won’t do it. And some kids love to make up pieces but won’t write them down.
Well, I want to encourage you all. I just wish I could tell you all the things that I have tried, some successful and some not so successful, but don’t give up. This year I have finally found a few – just a few – who don’t mind writing their music down and who entered pieces in the Federation Composition Contest. No matter what happened, I let them know all the great things about their pieces and made suggestions gently which they usually ignored. But they are also my best little students because they are beginning to understand that music is just another means of communicating and they are learning faster and playing better.
So what? you might ask. Well, you just don’t know where your encouragement might lead. And here is the proof of the pudding. Eventually, some of these students continue composing into junior high and high school, and they study composition at Junior Composer Summer Programs and Composers Online Institute. Randall Davidson has kept in close touch with alumni of these programs, and has shared what some of them are doing today (only a very small sample from many success stories):
Jonas Fisher just had his 2nd year recital for the MA in music composition at the San Francisco Conservatory.
Oliver Krause is coming to the close of his MBA at Villanova in accounting…he got married, he’s working full-time at KMPG and is composing music every week.
Tim Guillaume is an 8th-grader in Brooklyn Park MN who has just won the Minnesota and North Central Region Junior Composers composition contest with his 8-movement solo piano suite, Selcouths. He is currently working on his tenth symphony, the Urban Suite for large orchestra, and his Gloria for choir and orchestra,
Milo Zimmerman-Bence has sent samples of his latest music composition that accompanies a film that he’s also creating at film school.
AJ Isaacson-Zvidzwa’s Angels Sang to Me song cycle will be featured on Classical MPR in May. Performers include Maria Jette and a string quartet made up of members of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra. Her proposal has been chosen for the National Association for Mental Illness regional convention featuring music for this same ensemble and featuring her Angels song cycle. She is now working on a commission for Artaria String Quartet and vibraphone. She’s at AJmusicMN.com.
Kelvin Ying is now a staff sergeant in the Army Field Band based in Maryland having recently worked as the accompanist in the resident apprentice artist program at Virginia Opera. He graduated with an MA from the collaborative arts program at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
Flannery Cunningham’s projects and accomplishments are better observed at two websites: www.flannerycunningham.com and she also has created an institute similar but re-envisioned from our Junior Composers Institute called SPLICE. She’s a PhD candidate in musicology and composition at the University of Pennsylvania.
Wouldn’t you like to think that you made that profound impression on your students that led them down this path?