Virtual composer in residence

Philippas draft string quintet.JPGThe Abbotsleigh music teachers requested a new way to use our video conferencing technology, to provide students with a composer to mentor students – a virtual composer in residence. Ingrid Little, has pioneered this use in her Year 11 Music 2 class. She has seven girls in a Year 11 class, who have being doing diverse and original work in their composition class.

Last term they composed Baroque style compositions and this term they have 10 weeks to do a composition in any style for any instrument. Ingrid suggested that working with a composer to discuss the nature of composition to the group would be useful, but an ongoing mentoring of each individual student throughout the composition process was the most valuable contribution that video conferencing could bring to the class.

This has led to us forming a relationship with The Cleveland Institute of Music, which has been a pioneering force in bringing tertiary quality sessions and experts to students around the world via video conferencing. The girls have been working with Dr Keith Fitch, who is the Head of the Composition Department. He is highly regarded as a teacher, chamber music coach, and conductor of new music, and has taught at Indiana University, Bard College, and for 11 years served on the faculty of the Mannes College of Music in New York, where he founded the new music ensemble, CIRCE. His students regularly win awards from such prestigious organisations as ASCAP, BMI, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Fulbright Foundation, as well as attending leading summer festivals around the world. His music is published by Non Sequitur Music. It has been wonderful that video conferencing can bring his expertise to our girls.

Ingrid and Dr Fitch working with a student.JPGAfter an initial session, where the group composed a piece and discussed elements that make up a composition, the girls began to apply these concepts to their individual work. We then sent Dr Fitch their scores via email and in the following sessions, the girls had individual discussions with him about their work and how it could be developed. By the end of term, we are hoping to see the girls apply the concepts and develop their skills as composers.

Naomi Manning
IT Integrator, Abbotsleigh

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