Composition Portfolio

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Alisop, Sep 30, 2007.

  1. Alisop

    Alisop Member

    I am a secondary school Head of Music and for the first time I have a student applying to Music College and University as a first study composer. Can anybody give me any advice on how many Compositions should be in his portfolio and any other advice on this topic would be most helpful!


  2. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    The RNCM says that there should be 3 contrasting compositions. Well presented scores are a must as they get so many that horribly laid out scores won't fair that well. Although, the deadline for scores being sent out was today?!
  3. Alisop

    Alisop Member

    Thank you for that! He's only applied for LCM through CUCAS and as far as I know he just takes a portfolio to an interview for there (I hope!) His compositions are mostly Orchestral and Programmatic as he is interested in film music.
    Thanks again for your help

  4. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    Ahhhh, OK. Can't help with that, I was just under the impression the panel may need a little time to fully look through the music?

    Ooh - film music, that'll be cool, I'd love to get into that, there's a module this year on it!

    I would double check about sending off the scores though, just in case. Good luck!
  5. Alisop

    Alisop Member

    Thank you again! I've just been on th LCM website and it does say composers must submit a portfolio of work but no more details than that! I will get him to ring them tomorrow to find out more details. Enjoy your film music module!

  6. tinytimp

    tinytimp Member

    I'd definitely recommend sending off copies of his scores in advance, even if they don't ask or specify. A friend of mine applied to do postgrad composition at RCM last year and took her portfolio to the interview as requested, only to find out that she should have already sent them in. Not sure if that affected her chances but it certainly stressed her out before the interview started.
  7. Alisop

    Alisop Member

    I rang LCM today and they said if he gets an interview he is just to take the portfolio with him!

    He is talking about just applying for Lancaster through UCAS but I want him to keep his options open and apply for a range of places. Where do people recommend for studying composition?
  8. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Anglia Ruskin University has built up a fine reputation for composition. Although one downside is that the emphasis has now moved away from practical music. Senior lecturers include Richard Hoadley, Dave Crilly, Julio Escrivan, Kevin Flanagan, all highly respected in the field of composition, especially electronic music. I would not necessarily recommend LCM, simply because living in London is prohibitively expensive for students on a budget. Studying the trombone, for example, you do need to be in London, but composition is a different story and you can study anywhere where you feel there is a good department offering the course you want.
  9. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    Have to agree with Duncan, in fact Kev Flanagan is having one of his latest projects (1st since completing his phd I think) an opera, performed at west road concert hall (Cambridge university's concert hall) and possibly Chelmsford Cathedral in the not to distant future. Not only a great musician but a nice guy too, I was in the pub with him just the other day!
  10. If the LCM don't want his portfolio until the interview, I would suggest that they are not going to be having a detailed look at it because of time. Perhaps somewhere else may value their students enough to spend a few hours going through your compositions in order to find out if they are a worthwhile student or not.

    When I was applying, one college actually came back with a phone call to me and suggested I wasn't so suited to their course. Not only that, they gave me a refund and suggested some colleges and Uni's that would be better suited to teaching (If you can teach composition) my style of composer. How decent is that?

    What are his areas of interest in terms of composing? Maybe if you could give us some idea, there would be a few people on here who could make some suggestions from experience or knowledge/reputation etc.


  11. Alisop

    Alisop Member

    Ok here are some details! He decided to do GCSE because he enjoyed music lessons lower down the school and to support this he started having keyboard lessons and then he moved on to Piano lessons. He is now about grade 5/6 on Piano and aiming to reach grade 7 in the summer. He is a very natural composer but without the theoretical knowledge of someone who has studied an instrument from an early age (which in alot of ways is very good because he writes things as he wants them to sound and doesn't worry about the "rules"). He got full marks for composition for GCSE and an A for composition at AS (he got a C overall). His main passion is film music, his work is programmatic and he has a good imaginative ear for orchestration.
  12. Well, here's a few thoughts from myself. If he's a natural composer (And I guess by this you mean he's fluent, writes a lot, and seems to have a natural flair for composition?) then that's something that money can't buy. I was at the RNCM and can honestly say that some people there were very much a taught composer as opposed to an instinct type composer.

    However, this said, a good level of theoretical knoweldge needs to be in place, and I would suggest getting out the ABRSM theory books (Which I guess he's already done Grade 5 if he's taking 6 on the piano?). The main reason for this is that when writing a piece, you need to make sure that all of your thoughts and ideas are communicated as clearly as possible on the page. Theory skills will help him to do this.

    If he is serious about the film music thing (And I think many composers at that age are) then he should first of all be aware that it is very difficult to get into that industry, and it requires a lot of discipline as opposed to the free way in which he writes now. I think it's best to go and get that level of discipline first, and then continue in the direction he wants after that (There's probably world's of music he hasn't heard yet).

    Somewhere such as the RNCM has a brilliant department, with a eclectic mix of staff, performance oppurtunities etc. I know things have changed a lot since my days there, and that there are many more chances to have your work performed etc., so maybe Ben Tubb (He's already posted on this thread I think) would be best suited to tell you more about what it's like now.

    The other thing that I would suggest, is contacting Rod Newton (I can give you his details if you pm me) as he is active in the teaching of film music, has worked in film music, and is a very nice guy who, I'm sure, would be happy to have a quick chat with your son about what he could do.
  13. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    Hey Pete!

    Yea - I did already post!

    If he wants to chat to me directly he can just email me?

    Ben :)
    (2nd Year Composer-type-student at the RNCM - with a perf on Tuesday aaargh!)
  14. Alisop

    Alisop Member

    Thank you everyone for your help!

    I cetainly know more now than I did. I'm used to kids applying as performers but not had anyone apply yo do composition before.

    Can I just point out though He's not my son but one of my students! I don't want people thinking I'm old enough to have a child of that age!

  15. Wow - did I misread that!?

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