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why study composition?

I recently had to ask myself the question of "why study composition?" to convince future liberal arts students (and especially their parents) that they should study music composition.1

While I was in high school, I thought that question was a no-brainer: I was going to go to the University of Southern California, major in composition with a film scoring emphasis, meet a few directors, score their films, and experience my music in Dolby surround sound. Forever.

Of course, life does not always go as planned, especially if you outline your life based on your teenage plans. When I told my parents I was switching to regular composition (and writing concert music), they were confused. Concert music? Okay…

But you know what? I turned out fine. Yes, learned a great deal about writing and analyzing music over the course of a decade, but I also learned how to think critically, write grants, and produce my own performances (and start my own opera company).

Anyway, here's the blurb I wrote for the Ohio Wesleyan University music department.


1. This is a FAR better question to address than the dreaded "why do we have to study counterpoint?" complaint. Truthfully, my freshman have not asked this question; rather, one of them entered my classroom, scrunched his face and proclaimed, "I do not like THE RULES." Touché, my dear.

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