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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Music Instruction 

Do you teach online?

Yes, I do.  Using Google Hangouts (free) we can meet online once a week and cover the material you are interested in studying.  MP3s, Sibelius and other files are sent and received as email attachments or through Google Docs.

Who can benefit from my teaching and tutoring services?

I've been fortunate in that I've been able to teach a variety of people from different backgrounds, occupations and age groups.  I've taught high school students who are eager to study music composition and theory as preparation for a conservatory education.  I've taught professional musicians who want to deepen their knowledge of musical structure and composition.  As well, I've taught retired people who've excelled in other professions and whose love of music continues to drive them to learn.   I've also tutored those planning to go back to school to study music in a class-room environment, helping them to test out of beginning theory classes.  Some of my students have gone on to become working composers in theater, film and computer games. Additionally, recording engineers and music producers who want to strengthen their understanding of music and deepen their listening skills will also benefit from working with me.

composers
songwriters
music producers
recording engineers
professional musicians
high school students
those considering music composition for media as a career
those considering going to music school or conservatory
those considering going back to school to study music


What materials do I need to study with music with you?

Students will need music notebook with blank staff paper, pencils and erasers. For harmony, counterpoint and 20th century techniques a textbook (for counterpoint a workbook as well)  is required.   Since I place strong emphasis on deep listening, a portable MP3 or CD player, with headphones is also necessary.  Students will need study scores when we analyze and discuss various compositions or movements.  It will be very helpful to have a keyboard instrument available as well as email. For those interested in electronic music production, a DAW application (Sonar, Cubase, Logic, Digital Performer etc.), a MIDI keyboard and speakers will be necessary.  Finally, it would be helpful for the student to have a copy of Sibelius for notation of all assignments. 

How long will it take to complete a course with you?

Here's a chart to show what studying with me involves in terms of time: 

Course Material Covered Time Span, lessons once per week (approximate)
Harmony 1 The overtone series, major and minor scales, introduction to classical harmony through chord inversions, non-harmonic tones.  Melodic invention and variation, voice-leading, harmonic rhythm, cadences, basic modulation. Student will do 4-part harmonic exercises and melodic exercises. 15 weeks
Harmony 2 Secondary dominants, dominant 7 chords, diminished chords and their functions, altered chords, borrowed chords, chromaticism, non-dominant 7th chords, irregular resolutions, 9th, 11th, 13th chords,  Student will do 4-part harmonic exercises. 15 weeks
20th Century Techniques Non-triadic harmony including chords in 4ths, 5ths, clusters and mixed chords, expanded scalular resources, sets, dodecaphonic writing, atonality, polychords, mixed meters, altered meters, changing meters, phrase (rhythmic) beaming, metric modulation, form and structure.  Student will write exercises demonstrating these concepts. 15 weeks
Counterpoint Counterpoint based mainly on the music of J.S. Bach.  Student will do 2-, 3-and 4-part counterpoint exercises in the various species and write a 2-part and 3-part invention, and 3-part and 4-part fugues, relevant to modern harmony. 20 weeks
Orchestration for Digital Instruments The importance of transparency, orchestral weight,  software synthesis, synthesizer programming, orchestral and chamber music score analysis, working with sample libraries, texture, and textural variation, orchestral homophony, polyphony, heterophony, orchestral voice-leading, mixing the sequence. 10 weeks
MIDI Sequencing and Music Production Detailed study of MIDI sequencing,  achieving expression, gesture and intention.  Emphasis on execution and interpretation. Phrasing,  dynamics,  working with envelopes, MIDI controllers, editing MIDI and audio, the micro- and macro-dynamic volume shaping methods.  Rendering to audio, the usage of signal processing.  10 weeks

How good of a composer can I become?

As good as your talent and imagination allow.  Composition is as much about desire and motivation as it is about technique and craft.  Some composers feel that composition cannot be taught, it is too personal and too idiosyncratic to be able to be taught directly.  By studying theory and the finest compositions of other composers, you are learning to listen deeply and to understand the language and various styles and genres of music.  By becoming ever more sensitive to the elements of music--counterpoint, harmony, texture, form--it is then possible, but by no means certain, to develop your own voice. This is  something that no one can teach another directly, instead, it happens by composing many pieces.  The 10,000 hour rule applies here.  The amount of time you devote to composition will be a major factor in how far and how fast you progress.  Talent and ability are what you are born with, the skills and knowledge you acquire come from putting in the work and the time necessary to achieve your goals.


What makes an effective teacher of music?

A teacher who is deeply curious and actively practicing what he teaches is the best kind of teacher.  A dedicated teacher is one who can explain, demonstrate and create useful exercises around the concepts being taught.  A teacher who is compassionate and sympathetic to the student's goals will also be of help to the student.  Private instruction also requires a good "chemistry" between teacher and student, ensuring that the teacher's knowledge and insight can be passed on to the student.   I give 100% when I teach and I require that my students come prepared for the lessons, so as to create a productive hour together.


How do I pay for lessons and how much do they cost?

Lessons are weekly, and the cost is $70 per one-hour lesson.  I am usually paid for four lessons in advance.  I accept cash or check, I also accept payment via Venmo.  For the first meeting together, you may pay only for that lesson.  If you choose to pay for single lessons, I accept cash or check only.

Instruction Format

Fee

    Weekly instruction for one student (lessons are one hour)

$70.00 per lesson

Two Students (90 minutes of instruction) $55 per student per lesson
Three Students (90 minutes of instruction) $45 per student per lesson
Four Students (2 hours of instruction) $45 per student per lesson


What is your cancellation/missed lessons policy?

If you cancel a scheduled lesson prior to 24 hours before the lesson, I will find the time to make up that lesson on another day of that week.  After seven days from the original lesson, this offer expires.  Lessons must be cancelled within 24 hours prior to the lesson, or I will not re-schedule for that week. I also require one week's notice if you are decide to discontinue lessons.  I do not usually give refunds for lessons missed, however if a student is sick or has an emergency I may make exceptions.

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