Write Like Mozart Week 5 Notes – Two-Part Counterpoint

Write Like Mozart Week 5 Notes – Two-Part Counterpoint

Just over a year ago I was posting notes I sent my high school students in 2014 while we were taking the free online class called Write Like Mozart.  My Master’s in Composition studies took over my life, and I did not finish composing the last two postings of my notes. A reader alerted me that the course is being offered again starting next week (April 11, 2016). That there exists at least one reader interested in these notes inspires me to complete my postings on this subject!

My first post for Write Like Mozart Week 5 covered chromatic chord substitutions. This is the second post on Write Like Mozart Week 5 Notes, and here I cover Professor Edwards’ discussion of two-part counterpoint.

My Master’s in Composition by Research

My Master’s in Composition by Research

Yesterday, for my near final act within my master’s in composition by research, my scores, CD, and thesis were delivered for examination. I submitted about 15,000 words and over 45 minutes of music, the most music I’ve ever written within a year. The last piece I wrote was a 25 minute piano concerto (three movements) to be premiered in 2017 by Dr. Rinna Saun. That’s the longest work I’ve ever written. Now I wait one or two months for folks to read my material, look at my music, and listen to my recordings. If all goes well, I will have few edits to make before submitting the final version to the library.

This program, called a Master of Arts in Composition by Research, is through the University of Birmingham in the UK. My advisor and composition teacher is Michael Zev Gordon. We met via Skype every one or two weeks to discuss my studies and the music I was writing.

Independent Learning

Independent Learning

I am in the middle of my Master’s in Composition through the University of Birmingham, UK. During this final semester, I need to finish a piano concerto, clean up several shorter works, and write a 5000 word commentary on my portfolio of 45 minutes of new music.  To help make time for this, I have shortened my semester of private teaching, scheduled no fall nor winter recitals, and challenged all of my older students to learn three new works largely independently from me.

The idea of independent learning with my older students originates in the concept of the Accomplished Learner – the graduating high school student who is both an accomplished pianist and a capable self-learner. This concept, first introduced to me at a  Suzuki Principles in Action course, has proved a useful metric for my teaching.

My need to lighten my teaching load became an opportunity to push my students closer to becoming an Accomplished Learner. Using the guidelines offered in the Gerald Klickstein’s fabulous book The Musician’s Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Wellness, I created a packet intended to lead my students through the steps of learning a piece independently.

Implementing Online Lesson Scheduling

Implementing Online Lesson Scheduling

Summer is almost here.  The academic year’s schedule is coming to a close, and my students are signing up for lessons on the days that I will be teaching during the summer.

Traditionally, I’ve had a binder of available days on which students would sign up for a lesson.  Here’s an example signup sheet from last summer:

Summer Lesson Signup Sheet

This year, I’m trying out online lesson scheduling. While there are piano teacher specific services which might cover this well (e.g., Music Teacher’s Helper), my needs are more modest than what full blown studio management software offers.  I examined a few options for online appointment schedulers, and I implemented my summer scheduling through Acuity Scheduling.