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Feb 3, 2005, 8:23:36 AM2/3/05
I need help. I love movie music, i play the piano, love to sing, write
songs. Generaly want to become a COMPOSER. but I don't know Which University
will be the best.
Please let me know which ones you think are the best and where I can
recieve the best education in composing (everything, especially songs, and
movie scores)? I'm looking at England and The USA.

Thanks a lot,
David. ;-)


Feb 4, 2005, 4:03:26 PM2/4/05

Well I am in the same path / journey. Unless you have prior
education, you'll want to start from the beginning. I have had a
previous career with a BS in Math and MS/part PhD in Computer Science
so I am not motivated by a degree (though getting it would be fine as
long as it does not require significant extra time/effort), I want to
learn all the techniques and skills need to do non-classical
orchestration for TV / movie scoring.

Its like becoming a medical specialist. Before you can specialize in
tv / movie scoring, you'll have to get the common education required
for all music students in general and composers specifically. That
normally entails, for example, taking 2 or more years in theory and
ear training. Then as a composer, you need to learn more about
creating hard copy scores and that means you need to be somewhere
where there are musicians available to play your music. Ordinarily,
even in a school that may specialize in classical composing, it would
be quite difficult to find a complete symphonic orchestra to play your
scores. So you need to find smaller ensembles perhaps like a chamber
ensemble. In my case, while I do not plan to specialize in Jazz, I am
taking a Jazz route as well to give access to a 25 peice Jazz ensemble
to play more scores.

Another thing to take into account is that composing also means
learning and adopting music to different arrangements and sometimes,
just like performing other peoples peices could make you a better
pianist, the same holds true for arranging. There is nothing like
arranging another person's music to help you learn how to balance
instrument sections and learn how groups of instruments need to
interact. In addition, if you take an existing recording and try to
transcribe it exactly instead of inventing your own adopted
arrangement, you get additional training for your ear (nothing like
trying to separate out the chord progressions or the specific notes
and sequences for a instrument type). Last semester I did a full
score for Harry James' "It Been A Long Long Time" (1945) and now I'm
scoring the TV theme to Mannix -- this song sounds easy but listen to
it - it not so simple when you need to take a fast paces tune and
break it apart into groups of instruments.

Keep in mind as a composer you will need to sell yourself via not only
your creative works but also your versatility. So the more varied
stuff you do, the more marketable you are. Do not concentrate soley
on electronic / digital composing. While it is becoming increasing
popular in TV / film and necessary as a skill - make sure you can also
do paper / live scores. In fact, colleges often require composer
applicants to submit both hard copy scores as well as CD of work.

You don't have to move to LA, NY, Nashville, or Boston (unless you're
already there) to learn the basics and that will take some years.
Enter all the contests you can. Even the big ones like Billboard Song
Contest where your odds of winning are small are cheap and good to
enter as you get material evaluated / scored. Learn other skills
necessary on the fringes - for example, take MIDI or sound engineering
courses and learn what it is like to be a producer - in fact - try
composing an instrumental track and then work with some singers and
that track as a producer to create a demo in studio. Gets you more of
a flavor of what the business is really like (I have done that a few
times already - its an eye opener).

The final step as you know is that getting your music heard is not
just about talent and hard work but also about networking and
relationships. So when you think you are really on the playing field
and have the credits, training, and experience behind you to do the
job, then move to a big music city and enroll in Berlee or UCLA, etc.
Taking additional courses in tv/film will be useful, but as you are
well aware, going to those places gets you the contacts and
relationships that will be invaluable to launching and maintaining a

Then again, there is no single answer or solution to the business so
whatever I said above is perhaps one approach. You could go to
community college in Kalamazoo, MI (I pick on it since my youngest
duaghter school near there in Lansing at Michigan State) and get
noticed as well and never need to move at all. It happens - but the
probabilities are more likely in your favor in a music city.

Good luck,


Feb 5, 2005, 2:26:00 AM2/5/05
Hey Joel!
Thanks alot! You've been a lot of help. It cleared out my mind a bit.
And it's true i need a lot of stuff before even trying to go to Berklee, but
it's time to start working on it! :-D

Thanks again,

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