Is becoming a composer right for me?

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What do composers do?
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How to become a Composer

Becoming a composer requires a combination of talent, creativity, education, and hard work. Here are some steps you can take to become a composer:

  • Learn music theory and composition basics: To become a composer, it's essential to have a strong foundation in music theory and composition basics. You need to learn how to read and write music, understand musical notation, scales, keys, chords, harmony, and rhythm. You can take private lessons with a music teacher, enroll in a music school, or study online resources such as textbooks, videos, or courses.
  • Listen to music: As a composer, you need to develop a broad understanding of different styles, genres, and musical traditions. Listen to music from different periods, cultures, and regions. Analyze the works of great composers, and study their techniques, instrumentation, and form. Try to understand what makes their music unique and appealing.
  • Develop your skills: Practice is key to becoming a composer. You need to develop your skills by composing and arranging music regularly. Experiment with different styles, forms, and instrumentation. Practice writing for different ensembles, such as chamber groups, orchestras, or choirs. Seek feedback from other musicians, instructors, or composers, and be open to constructive criticism.
  • Build a portfolio: A portfolio is a collection of your best compositions that showcases your skills and style. It can include scores, recordings, and performance videos. Building a portfolio is essential to establish your brand as a composer and to attract potential clients or employers. You can create a website or social media account to showcase your portfolio online.
  • Network: As a composer, it's essential to build relationships with other musicians, conductors, producers, or music directors. Attend music events, concerts, and workshops. Meet other composers and music professionals, and collaborate with them. Join music organizations, such as composers' associations, and participate in their activities.
  • Get formal training: A formal education in composition can provide you with valuable skills, knowledge, and mentorship. You can enroll in a music or music theory and composition degree program at a college or university. You can also study composition online through courses or workshops offered by music schools or conservatories. A formal education can also provide you with opportunities to perform your music and collaborate with other musicians.
  • Seek opportunities: To become a successful composer, you need to seek opportunities to showcase your music. Look for competitions, festivals, and commissions for compositions. Explore opportunities in film scores, video game soundtracks, or multimedia productions. Build relationships with music directors, producers, or conductors who can help you get your music performed.
  • Continuously improve: The path to becoming a successful composer requires continuous learning and improvement. Seek feedback from other musicians, attend workshops or masterclasses, and be open to new ideas and perspectives. Keep refining your skills, experiment with new techniques, and develop your own voice and style as a composer.

There are many different types of associations for composers, depending on their nationality, genre, style, or specific interests. Here are a few examples of associations that composers might belong to:

  • American Composers Forum: A non-profit organization that supports American composers through grants, commissions, and residencies.
  • Society of Composers, Inc.: A professional organization for composers of contemporary music, with a focus on promoting new and innovative works.
  • International Society for Contemporary Music: An organization that promotes contemporary music from around the world, with a particular emphasis on fostering international cooperation among composers.
  • American Music Center: A non-profit organization that supports American composers and promotes their work through education, advocacy, and funding opportunities.
  • BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.): A performing rights organization that collects royalties on behalf of its members, which include composers, songwriters, and music publishers.
  • ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers): A similar performing rights organization that represents composers, songwriters, and music publishers in the United States.
  • The National Association of Composers/USA: An organization that promotes the music of American composers, with a focus on providing performance opportunities and educational resources.
  • The Composers Guild of New Jersey: A professional organization that supports composers in the state of New Jersey, with a focus on promoting their work through performances and recordings.

Online Resources
There are many online resources available for composers of all levels, including beginners, intermediate and advanced composers. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Noteflight: A web-based music notation software that allows composers to write, play, and share sheet music online.
  • MuseScore: A free and open-source music notation software that provides a user-friendly interface for creating and sharing sheet music.
  • Hooktheory: A music theory website that provides interactive tools for exploring chord progressions, melody writing, and song analysis.
  • Orchestration Online: A website that provides online courses and resources for orchestration, arranging, and composition.
  • New Music USA: An organization that supports and promotes contemporary American music, providing funding, resources, and networking opportunities for composers.
  • Film Scoring Tips: A website that provides tips, tutorials, and resources for composers interested in film and media music.
  • The Composer's Site: A website that offers free sheet music, tutorials, and resources for composers of all levels.
  • YouTube channels: There are several YouTube channels that offer tutorials, masterclasses, and interviews with professional composers, such as Mastering Music, Spitfire Audio, and Film Score Academy.