Our Eighth Annual Student Composition Festival runs from Monday, January 16 through Saturday, January 28. Here are five tips to help your composition get selected to be performed at our New Music Concert on Sunday, April 2:

  1. Ask your private lesson teacher for input in selecting a category and notating your ideas.
  2. Review scales, chord progressions and rhythmic patterns. Ted Reed’s book, Syncopation, by the way, is wonderful for all instruments.
  3. Focus on keeping it simple. Strong melodies consist mostly of step-wise motion and restated phrases.
  4. Be prepared to edit your work. A good writer knows how to use the erasing end of the pencil as well as the writing end. Notate your initial ideas in whatever form is handy – you can express it to standard notation later.
  5. Perform it to improve it, then rehearse it to perform it for others.



Wondering how to answer the question, “What’s new this year?” when you see your family and friends? Show them your progress by performing an informal concert. [Originally published December 2015]

  1. Prepare. Have a plan for equipment, appearance, setup area and performing the songs.
  2. Define the end time. Most people can agree to devote 10-15 minutes to your music with enthusiasm. Leave your audience wanting more.
  3. Expect requests. Think about the time of year you’re playing (e.g., Christmas) or your audience (e.g., Happy Birthday or a song by a
  4. Timing is everything. Try to find a quiet spot in the day’s schedule, such as after a meal, and give people plenty of notice.
  5. Lead us not into temptation. What gets served at a celebration can slow you down. Think of it as a treat for after your performance.

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