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Reflections on Professional Development Workshop

Yesterday I attended a professional development workshop with about 25 other composers presented by Earshot, the national orchestral composition discovery network. While most of the sessions dealt mainly with orchestras and contemporary orchestral music, the one session that really piqued my interest, and was truly germaine to our discussions in this forum, was presented by a man who has worked for and with such big names as C.F Peters, G. Schirmer and Schott Music Publishing. He was truly an encyclopedia of knowledge about the publishing world. What really caught my attention was the idea that self-publishing is now becoming the norm more than the exception. He told us that, recently, both G. Schirmer and another big publisher (the name of which I can't remember) have recently gone though major staff and resource cuts. Traditional publishing, at least for music, is seeming to become a bit of a dinosaur. I presented to him the way some of us have decided to sell our music, by way of PDFs (selling per copy and in some cases per page) and he seemed to think that was a good way to go about it. The only drawback he could see was the possibility of the purchaser making more copies than they agreed on (infringing on copyright.) BUT, from my experience with a variety of choral groups, that kind of activity happens a lot and will continue to happen. Another major point of his presentation: the more stumbling blocks you put between your music and its performance, the more disservice you do to yourself and to the possibility of its performance. Suffice to say, this was all very encouraging and energizing discourse!
A few other "pearls of wisdom" that I came away with:
      -Understanding the importance of and fostering relationships between composers, performers AND AUDIENCE!
      -Understanding the composers role in society as a "cultural citizens" and how we can be a part of it through outreach and community education.
      -You, as a composer, need to support "the competition" (other composers!)
Just wanted to share the experience - it was certainly well worth the time!
on February 24, 2012 8:42am
Jason, these are very interesting and helpful perspectives.
I really appreciate your posting them!
Melinda Bargreen
on February 24, 2012 2:54pm
I agree wholeheartedly with all three of your pearls.   I think we tend to forget about the audience when we program our concerts.  Would it really kill us to make the concert entertaining for all who attend?   The Czech Boy Choir performed at the NC-ACDA convention.  They were a breath of fresh air.  Although they performed lighter repertoire than most of the other choirs at the convention, what endeared them into everyone's heart was the two boys they had MC the concert.  They were humorous and made everyone laugh.  I heard dozens of people talking about how much they loved their performance and all for the same reason.  It was entertaining for the audience!  
We all need to think about making our performances more entertaining in someway.  Check out this Barbershop chorus and how they turned an excellent performance into something unforgettable.   If you are in a hurry start at 3:00.  This performance just keeps growing more and more amazing. 
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