reconstructing the best undergrad composition program



It's that time of year again where I realize I have to start acting like a Responsible Adult—you know, stop my partying and boozing and start going to bed and waking up at decent hours, all because the days are getting shorter and I need to return to my academic engagement in less than two weeks.


And part of my Responsible Adult duties involve watching over my composer progeny.


The Bachelor of Music Composition degree at Ohio Wesleyan University is in its toddler stages. It's small but needs to grow, and it is my job as a Responsible Adult to feed it and make sure I don't stunt its growth.


As part of this process, the head-of-department and I decided to provide an intro to composition class where freshman and non-composition majors can be introduced to writing music. I am thrilled about this—I had an intro to composition class at USC my freshman year, and I like the concept. Sometimes freshmen aren't ready to have one-on-one composition lessons with their professor. And, many times composition teachers are repeating the same concepts quite a few times a day, often instructing them what instruments go where or the importance of using a ruler.


I also have the challenge of creating a good composition program with limited resources. I do not teach at a conservatory: I teach at a private co-ed liberal arts college. I will never be able to bring in the resources that Juilliard, Eastman, or NEC has to offer to their composition students, especially due to my ma-and-pa-sized budget. However, I know what I do have: a strong liberal-arts institution that prides themselves on offering Theory-to-Practice Grants and Travel-Learning Courses,good music faculty, an internship for my composition students through the Central Ohio Symphony, and the opportunity for visiting chamber groups to workshop my student's pieces through the Performing Arts Series. (That's right, Conundrum is coming to town and reading my students' works.) I know we're not the Yankees or Red Socks, but the Tampa Bay Rays are not a bad team, right?


Stay tuned: I will be posting more on this process.

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