Composition, arranging, songwriting and production

I’m a very experienced composition teacher and love to help people find the discipline and freedom necessary for their creative expression to flow. I teach students my simple, practical model of how music works tonally and rhythmically and encourage them to improvise explore ways of using music to tell authentic stories.

Conventional approaches to composition teaching tend to be based either on learning dense theory or a rather abstract, experimental approach that can leave many people in the dark. By learning my simple model of fluent musicianship, students develop a clear understanding of tonal and rhythmic vocabulary and structure. This means that they communicate their own unique musical messages clearly, in any style of music that they choose to explore as a composer.

I teach composing as a practical skill based on active, fluent musicianship, not as an academic area of study. Having a clear working model of how music works generates fluency and this is a very powerful way for students to unlock their creativity. To help students develop their confidence and skills when composing, I teach them to improvise musical rhythms and larger forms and also tonal shapes and patterns using the piano keyboard, which is the ideal tool for composing, arranging and producing music, especially with a computer.

Whilst the foundation discipline of being able to handle rhythm, tonality and musical structure is top priority in composition lessons, various other aspects of composition will be covered to whatever level of depth is required:

  • Timbre, texture and instrumentation
  • Notation – engraving scores, parts, lead sheets for pop songs etc.
  • Compositional techniques – thematic transformation, symphonic development, variation etc.
  • Study of different styles of music and understanding the techniques involved
  • Word setting and melody-writing
  • Music technology and production – sequencing, synthesis, sampling, recording etc.
  • Synchronising music and film/dramatic subtext

I use Finale for notation and Cubase or Reaper for production, together with a whole host of other music software. I will help students navigate today’s very complex world of music technology and composition and help them demystify the whole process in order to feel confident and secure in their own musical choices. Whatever path students wish to follow – complex production, classical symphonic writing, solo instrumentals, experimental electronica or just putting down simple pop songs as vocal melodies with chords – I can guide them expertly to develop their skills and unlock their creativity.