Music Composition Requirements?

I’m a junior in high school, and I’ve loved orchestral/classical music for as long as I can remember, though my performance level isn’t up to par with other people interested in music majors (or so I believe). I’ve been playing violin at a beginner level for nine years and am only now participating in a youth orchestra. I’ve also been playing piano since I was four, but I never took lessons and primarily thought myself with YouTube (despite this, I’m a good pianist, though I don’t know proper form or even how to read piano sheet music). I’ve been commissioned to write the music for the One Act Play at my school this year and blew everyone out of the water with what I made. This is what really opened my eyes to composition. But would I qualify for degree in Composition if I have performance anxiety, play violin at a merely intermediate level, and play piano well but can’t read sheet music?

3 Answers

  • Anonymous
    10 months ago
    Favourite answer

    Performance anxiety:

    Luciano Pavarotti was the most famous tenor of the late 20th century. He was one of the '3 tenors'. The best of the best, so to speak.

    He shared that often times before he would go on stage to perform in an opera he would get diarrhea because he got so nervous.

    Even the best get performance anxiety. What matters is how you learn to deal with it.


    Reading notation:

    I'm intrigued that you say you can't read piano notation. It is written like 95% the same as violin (some articulations are instrument specific etc, but still). If you can read sheet music for the violin you can read it for the piano. It sounds like you're uncomfortable translating notation (that you can read!) to the piano. So practice that.

    Regardless, you will likely have to take 1-4 beginning piano classes, working on reading music and playing scales, etc.

    4 basic music theory courses (working on reading music, and you'll end up looking at grandstaff mostly) as well as analyzing other people's music. 

    2-4 ear training courses (being able to sight-read music, singing it using solfa or some other method, as well as being able to write down notes that you hear).

    All of these classes are pretty basic, most every music major will end up taking these courses. they will help you learn to read music more. Although learning now makes it easier later.


    Not good enough?

    Keep practicing your instruments and making compositions. You don't have to be able to play like Paganini to compose a piece. (certainly its more effective for you if you can play the pieces that you write, to perform them in public and help garner notice). 

    Keep going! 

    Music ed student here

  • 10 months ago

    If you wish to major in Music Composition in college, university, conservatory, or any other post-HS educational institution - they you are incredibly behind in what you need. You must pass an AUDITION on your major instrument. You must submit scores (written, correctly notated) of samples of your work. This is best done using a good notation program like Finale, Sibelius, Dorico, etc. Although your school friends might have been "blown out of the water" with your music, they are not in a position to judge its true quality. It is possible that you ARE a very creative person - but with no decent skills, that hobbles you. So tell us just HOW you "wrote the music for the one-act play". Did you just play things at the piano, and record them? Is there any notation at all of what you did? are there music teachers in your school that know you and your work - and if so, what do THEY tell you? Since you do not perform, I do not expect that you have any awards or honors - All-State, All-Region, etc. So you have not evidence of your abilities, to send with a college application. Yes, throughout history there have been non-traditional students of all kinds - but you have to present yourself NOW - so we would like to help you, but have zero to work with form your info. Tell us more, post samples (YouTube?) etc. And "play piano well" but cannot read music???? So you know no legitimate piano literature?? Tell us more.

  • 10 months ago

    No. Start with some private lessons from a qualified teacher. I don't know how you would write music if you can't read it.

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