August 14, 2012

How to Apply for Music Studies in College

So you want to study music in college and you need to know how to get in? Here are a few suggestions.

You have the desire to study music. Great. You will need much of it to sustain you through lonely hours in a practice room. Unless you enjoy being alone in small spaces. Aside from application requirements, it would also be helpful to have a few things. 

August 11, 2012

What Are You Writing Now?

You would think a composer is one who composes music all the time, right? 

My experience at university, the place where composers go to teach because they want to write music but still have to make a living, taught me that this is not always the case. In fact, it seemed to me that most of my composition professors would have enjoyed having more time to compose. And less time having to check music theory homework for parallel fifths and octaves. 

Unfortunately for those who would like to, it isn't easy or simple to make a living from one's composing these days. But if you're one of those folks doing so, please share your success story for others in the comments below! (You can also voice your anger if I offended you with the above paragraph, but hey, that was once my plan, too). 

Over the past few years I have been preoccupied with matters other than composing. A few arrangements are all the these years have produced, which you could call Gebrauchsmusik and I wouldn't be offended. And the preoccupation is OK with me, for I am preparing for another line of work. 

Still, the composing continues, albeit at a much slower pace than it might otherwise. And so, my update is that I am currently working on a several new choral anthems, about which I hope to share more with you, real soon. 

August 2, 2012

Howard Hanson, A Brief Biography

The Composer's Childhood 

On 28 December 1896, Howard Hanson was born in Wahoo, Nebraska.[1] There he grew up without siblings.[2] His parents, Hans and Hilma, were Lutherans from Sk√•ne, Sweden.[3] Allen Cohen, musicologist and assistant professor of music at Fairleigh Dickson University in New York,[4] noted in his Hanson biography: “As a boy Hanson considered a career in the Lutheran ministry. . . . Religious ideals and images are prominent in his writings and speeches, as well as in his compositions.”[5] Recalling his childhood, Hanson once said, “The music of the [Lutheran] chorales is pretty serious material, and this impressed me very greatly.”[6]  As a child, Hanson was first taught to play the piano and cello by his mother and later played cello in the high school orchestra, which he occasionally conducted.[7]  He later took lessons at Wahoo’s Luther College with A. O. Peterson who taught him music theory in addition to cello and piano performance.[8]

An Ambitious Student

A diligent student, Hanson once confessed, “I didn’t want to be second or third in the class—I wanted to be the first in the class, and I always was.  I wanted to be the best pianist around [Luther College], not the next best.  That was a kind of an ambition that probably helped me in professional life later on—that I was driving myself a little bit, probably, all my life.”[9]  Hanson’s drive to perform better than his peers helped him to graduate at the top of his high school class.[10]