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Music Composition Suggestions Please

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I'd love some suggestions for a teen interested in classical musical composition. I'm not looking for school resources necessarily - just ways to develop the interest. He owns Finale and has enjoyed playing around with it, but he could some type of resource - a course, good book, tutor - to take it further. He has a decent music theory background from private music lessons.

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I agree that if he is serious about composition, he should take composition lessons from a composer. My son studies composition at Levine School of Music. You can see if there is one in your area, although, it will probably be less expensive if you use a private tutor.


IMO, a sound foundation in college-level theory and ear training/sight singing (at least 2 semesters) is necessary to begin studying composition.


If your ds plans to major in music composition in college, he should start building a portfolio of pieces NOW and he should try to get his music played and recorded.



Edited by ValRN
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Thanks. I should have explained what I was looking for better. This isn't what he's majoring in during college and it will not be a career direction for him. He would like to pursue it for fun. We probably can't take another serious ongoing tutor commitment but could maybe swing a few sessions. He's great with self study but we need some ideas for directions or resources.

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I've taken two entire class in composition from composition professors. It really wasn't all that useful in learning how to compose. I picked up a couple tips on how to prepare a manuscript but that was about it. Mostly, they encouraged us to find our own "voice".


I think maybe one of the best things to do is just encourage him to compose a lot. After awhile, he'll probably be able to pick out the good from the bad.


Finale might be your best resource.


One thing he might try is transcribing already written music into Finale. Reading through a score is a first step, but actually entering each line and seeing how it changes the sound can be pretty enlightening.


He might also look into furthering his music theory knowledge. Although music lessons for another instrument can provide a basic background, there may be a lot he doesn't know that might be really useful to him for composing. Back when I was in college music theory classes, we used a book by Turek that I found understandable (although my daughter is currently disagreeing with me on this). I've forgotten the exact name. The latest books by this author are pricey. I wonder if you can pick up an older book that is cheaper.


FWIW, I found my theory classes to be a LOT more useful in learning composing than my composing classes. What you will get with a tutor is the encouragement to compose, though.

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Because improvisation and composition are closely linked, I would get him a good self-teaching book on improvisation. I think it will open the door to a lot of ideas, which he can then refine and write down if desired.


Here's one way to start the composing process:

Start with something. It can be an image, a poem, an idea... then create a melody that fits it. Refine, and add a chord structure to fit the melody. Then, do variations with the melody--turn it upside down; make it minor; change the time signature and rhythm; and so on. Add these variations to the first part. At the end, come back to the original melody/chords.

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