Last January, I designed a list of challenges (found in my blog 13 Challenges in 13 Weeks) for my composition students at Roosevelt University. These challenges helped students explore their full range of artistic abilities, consider future collaborations with artists in different disciplines, learn how to program repertoire for concerts, and articulate their short- and long-term goals. This semester I have devised a new set of challenges aimed at giving students experience in (mostly) entrepreneurial projects. Unless otherwise indicated, each challenge takes one week to complete.
Your C.V. and Biography
1. Write your Curriculum Vitae; include your full list of works in it. On your C.V., make sure you include your education, teaching experience, awards/academic honors, upcoming/recent performances, and professional experience either as a composer or performer, or both. Add an attractive header to the top of the first page that includes your name and contact information. For each piece on your list of works, indicate the year completed, instrumentation, and duration. If you have enough works to separate into categories, then divide up the works as you see fit (i.e. large ensemble, chamber ensemble, choir, electroacoustic, etc.). For both the C.V. and works list, put your most recent activities and works first, then list older items in reverse chronological order.
2. Drawing upon the activities listed on your Curriculum Vitae, write a 400-450 word biography; then write a shortened 200 word biography. You should maintain both long and short biographies throughout your career. Until you’ve accumulated enough musical experiences to fill out your bios, feel free to mention other activities that you do – performing, conducting, singing in a barbershop quartet, dog walking for superstars, etc. – or tell the story of your background and how you began composing.
3. Professional composer sites: Select two of the following composers and study their websites; find a third composer’s website of your choosing. Discuss what you find particularly effective or innovative. How does the layout of the site look to you? Is it easy to navigate? Is there anything that they didn’t include on the website that you wish they had, or anything that you found confusing?
Mason Bates http://www.masonbates.com/
Ted Hearne http://www.tedhearne.com/
Jake Heggie http://jakeheggie.com/
Jennifer Higdon http://jenniferhigdon.com/
Libby Larsen http://libbylarsen.com/
John Mackey http://www.ostimusic.com/
Missy Mazzoli http://www.missymazzoli.com/
Andrew Norman http://andrewnormanmusic.com/
4. Younger composer sites: Select three of these graduates of Roosevelt University and study their websites. Discuss what you find particularly effective or innovative. How does the layout of the site look to you? Is it easy to navigate? Is there anything that they didn’t include on the website that you wish they had, or anything that you found confusing?
Clarice Assad http://www.clariceassad.com/
Brian Baxter http://brianbaxtermusic.com/
Ed Davis http://www.efdavis.com/
John Dorhauer http://johndorhauer.com/
Amy Beth Kirsten http://www.amybethkirsten.com/
Eric Malmquist https://ericmalmquist.wordpress.com/
5. Design a website for yourself. You can do this as a PowerPoint presentation, or using web-based software, or even draw a series of hand-drawn pictograms with text. No matter how you choose to do it, provide a home page with a menu to navigate to your site’s other pages. Decide what other pages you want to include, such as your list of works, your biography, etc. Fill out information for each of these pages. You have two weeks to complete this challenge; show your progress at your lesson in the 1st week, with the final product due in the 2nd week.
Video Game & Film Music
Choose to focus on either video game or film music for challenges #6-8. No switching from one genre to the other between challenges.
6. There are two steps to this challenge. First, find two composers’ websites within your chosen genre; carefully go through their websites. What kinds of activities do they do? What games or films have they written music for? Can you find any evidence of what helped them get on their career path – perhaps they had graduate school training in film, or did several projects with a particular film director when they first started out? Next, make a list of three or more books on how to create music on your chosen genre. For each book, provide the title, author, publisher, and year published.
7. Find a 30-45 second clip of a video game or film that doesn’t have any (or minimal) dialogue for which you’ll compose a soundtrack. Ascertain the clip’s mood and pacing. What tempo does the pacing of the scene suggest? What emotions does it evoke? What kind of instrumentation can you hear accompanying it? Should the music be lush, full, and romantic, or high, thin, and tense? …And so on. Use Sibelius, Finale, or another music program to compose music for your clip. Make sure you’ve synched the video with your new audio.
8. You’ll be using the same video/movie clip as you did in the previous week; now create entirely new music for the clip. Capture another aspect of the scene than you did the first time.
Social Media Campaigns
9. Find one Kickstarter music campaign that interests you; also, find one Indiegogo music campaign. These campaigns can either be current or have already concluded (with or without having attained funding). What aspects do you like about each campaign? What aspects weren’t as successful? How did each person/group make the best use of the Kickstarter and Indiegogo platforms? Make sure you read about how Kickstarter and Indiegogo work so you understand their similarities and differences.
10. Create an idea for either a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign. This can be anything: funding professionals to perform at your degree recital, raising money to attend a summer festival, financing a commercial recording, etc. Decide on the amount of money you’re trying to raise, then write a blurb about why you’re doing the project and what you’ll use the money for. Devise your list of perks – have at least four different perk levels (you can have more than this, but not less). Use either Kickstarter’s or Indiegogo’s online format for these; just don’t go live with your project. You have two weeks to complete this challenge; show your progress at your lesson in the 1st week, with the final product due in the 2nd week.
Finding Your Own Way
11. Research and present two or three ways that you can use your musical talents to earn money. These can be a business you want to start, an organization you wish to join, or a line of work you’d like to pursue. Each has to provide you with an income (it can’t be pro bono work).