How does it work?
We pair each Music-COMP student with a professional composer to be their mentor as they create a new work. Some of our composer mentors live in Vermont, others are all across the country. Our mentors are professors, freelance composers, teachers, performers and more. All the interaction happens on our secure mentoring site, and the mentor works with each young composer to guide them in writing original music.
Let’s take a look at a real example from a few years back: A student from the Northeast Kingdom is composing their first piece of music, and they are paired with a composer living in New York City as their mentor. The first draft the student posts is only 8 measures long, and over the course of a few months they work together to create a 3 minute long song. The student would work on their music and post a comment to the mentoring site when they had made some progress and were ready to share with their mentor. The mentor then listened to what they wrote and made suggestions to help guide the student in the composition process. This back and forth went on for a few months, or until the piece was finished.
We try to play as many of the new compositions as we can, and for each Opus concert we will premiere 20-30 new works with professional musicians. Opus concerts are free and open to the public, and include rehearsals and workshops during the day prior to the concert. This student’s song was selected for performance at Opus, and during the day they rehearsed their music with a string quartet whose members all perform with the Vermont Symphony. Later that evening, the new piece of music had it’s world premiere to a packed concert hall full of friends, family, and community members.
Is this just for exceptionally talented young musicians?
Absolutely not! Our goal is to allow music students of all abilities to realize their creativity in music. There really is no prior composition experience necessary to participate. A musical foundation helps, but is not required. One of our core beliefs is that every young person has a musical voice - and we want to give them the opportunity for it to be heard.
How much does it cost?
Through Music-COMP, each student will get between 4-6 hours of one-on-one mentoring from a professional composer. Independent students are charged $40 for elementary/middle school compositions and $70 for high school compositions. Member schools pay $20 and $30 respectively for each composition. If a piece is selected for Opus, there is a $65 performance fee that helps us cover the cost of audio recordings, video recordings, hall rental and payment for the musicians. There are scholarships available for those students and families in need of financial assistance. If cost is a factor, please reach out to Matt LaRocca.
Do I need to purchase any music software?
No! You can use free music notation software! There are two fantastic options: Noteflight (which is cloud based and can be accessed from anywhere with nothing to download) and Muse Score (which is a downloadable program). Noteflight is preferable, as it makes the interactions between mentors and students much easier. To share a note flight score, all you have to do is copy and paste the url of your music, send the link to someone, and it can be opened anywhere. Additionally, students can work on Noteflight scores from any computer.
Are there other opportunities besides Opus concerts?
Yes! Our mentors work with young composers year round on a number of different types of projects. Right now we have students working on pieces for the Vermont Symphony, student-designed projects of all types including a composition for their school’s orchestra, and silent film scores.
Do you work with other organizations?
We do! We partner with a number of different organizations to provide opportunities for students. Every year our young composers have their music performed by the Vermont Symphony, the Vermont Philharmonic, the Northern Third Piano Quartet, and more. They are also regularly featured on VPR with Kari Anderson and our Student Composer Showcase.
What do we hope for our young composers?
To realize their creative abilities in music and experience the creative process while working directly with a mentor
To be empowered to create something that is entirely their own
To have a safe place to express themselves through music
To be given an opportunity to connect and engage with professional musicians
Growth - both musical and personal
A life changing moment they will always remember
Ready to get started? Contact Executive Director Matt LaRocca at firstname.lastname@example.org for registration information and details on how to post music to our secure mentoring site.