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Ok, so, I'm having a MAJOR stress-out right now! I really don't know where to post this, so I'm just going to go ahead and wing it. I need some major help! (This all sounds rather vague. Perhaps I shall start a new paragraph explaining myself.)

So, My name's Mr. Composer Guy, as you can see, and composing has all I ever wanted to do as a child. But I've just now started pursuing this dream. So, I found this website. Yay! Anyway, I began reading around about people, just some basic info, and a lot of people have been composing from, in my view, really early ages. Maybe not Mozart early, but still, earlier than me. It's a bit intimidating. (I intimidated rather easily, I'm afraid, which is rather comical considering I'm 6' 2") I haven't really studied composition or theory, you see. The only "training" I've had is learning how to read music from my high school chamber choir. I don't have a theory teacher, I wouldn't know how to go about finding one, and I sure as hell wouldn't have the money, so a lot of the terminology used in this website is just plain scary. All of a sudden my perspective has changed. Before now, I never really felt as if I had anything to worry about. What can you expect when you're the only kid in your music class that knows what "staccato" means? Sure, I knew there would be more to learn, but not this fast, and the fact that virtually every teacher here isn't excepting new applications only exacerbates the situation.

So, this is all really challenging to think about, but in a way, I'm glad it's happening. I'm being pushed out of my comfort zone, and now I want to know more, I NEED to know more. Plus, nothing will get in my way of becoming an accomplished composer. I just need some direction, or guidance. I don't know where to go or what to do, and I just need some help. Well, quite possibly more than a little, but still. What can I do to?

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I am 16 years old. I sing at my high school and I am the bass section in my choir (not a lot of singer where I come from, I guess). I played the clarinet for three years, but I haven't pick it up in so long that pretty much forgotten a good bit about it (it broke, and, at the time, I lacked the funds to repair it. After that, I kind of lost interest in it anyway.) Basically, I've just written untitled sketches that I just wrote by winging it, so to speak, without any method or anything. All I know about theory is the very, very, VERY basics (I stress the word very, because I see people on here who say they only know the basics, but already know so much more than I do) that come with reading music. I feel a need to evolve a bit, and I want to start learning more about theory and composition.

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As crazy as it sounds, pick up "Music Theory for Dummies" (or whatever it's called). It's a good starting point, particularly if you don't have resources for a teacher (to start with).

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Emeraldstone's tip: Work with what you know!

If you know choir, write choir! If you know clarinet, write clarinet! Even if you think your compositions suck, it doesn't matter! Everyone has to start somewhere...

"There is now a Level Zero."

Use your ignorance to your advantage! Then, gradually and with time, work up. Add more! Learn more! Do more! You don't have to conquer the world right now! Work up to it!

:D Best of luck...

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Harrison Birtwistle didn't start composing until his 30's.

In fact, starting to compose at a later age might benefit you because you'd be less inclined to compose in a style that has been forced upon you since you were young.

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Just a thought, have you looked at musictheory.net? It has theory lessons, and it is pretty good in the way of explanations. You might be interested in MacGamut software, which teaches some theory concepts in a more interactive way and from a more aural approach...used in ear training classes...but good for constructing chords, scales, etc. It really helped me in the way of recognizing and reproducing musical structure.

Don't worry!!! Every composer's musical background is different, and everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses. A determined willingness to learn more is the mark of a well-rounded musician.

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you're only 16 --- take a chill pill. you're still a kid.

based on your lack of experience, it may turn out that this is not even what you want to do with your life - dont limit your options. I work as an engineer, but music is a hobby... I still get to enjoy it but don't have to stress about making it pay the bills.

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Mr. Composer Guy! I'm sixteen too. I've wanted to compose since I saw the movie Signs and heard James Newton Howard's amazing work with scoring the movie. That was almost seven years ago. Since then I've been composing and my highschool band director actually asked me to re-arrange our fight song! I actually just had one of my orchestral compositions publically performed by my community orchestra.

But I'm still extremely intimidated too! I play violin but I'll never become a virtuoso as I hope so. I don't even know how I'll get into a good music college with a terrible audition. I'd suggest getting some music notation softwhere if you are writing with pen and paper. You have loads of options and I've learned a lot using Finale. (I applaud you if you are using pen and paper. I don't know how people wrote orchestral scores without music notation software back in the day!) Experiment with other instruments. Borrow them from your school. If you're writing for orchestra knowing a little bit of each instrument is a huge plus. I've been told that I have plenty of time (you do too) and just go with the flow! If music is what you love then your passion will get you where you want to be!

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Hey Mr. Composer Guy,

I'm sort of (kind of) in the same boat as you. I'm a senior in high school (so I'm just a few years older than you are), and I've been playing the piano and guitar (and hence studying a little bit of theory) for quite a long time now, but I've only recently gotten interested in composing (largely thanks to my AP Music Theory class and singing in the choir - I'm a bass as well, by the way). Anyway, this is what I recommend:

Amazon.com: Music in Theory and Practice, Volume 1 with Audio CD: Bruce Benward, Marilyn Saker: Books

It's the textbook we use in my AP Music Theory class. I love it. It's amazingly straightforward, starts at the very beginning, and progresses from there. And it has both audio and written examples of just about everything it teaches. I highly recommend it. It is slightly on the pricey side, but it's well worth it.

Hope that helps,

~Christian

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Another alternative to private lessons is taking lessons in groups. Is there a junior college anywhere near you? If so, they probably offer a few theory classes for fairly little money (the school near me charges $60 per semester). Of course, teaching yourself with books and self-study is completely possible as well, and even cheaper.

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Just think, some of the greatest musicians of our day taught themselves the essentials of theory and technique. Having a dream will only expedite the process! Get your hands on anything you can to teach and train you.

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Hey Mr. Comp. Guy!

I'm definitely in the same boat as you. I just finished my first year in college though, so I do have one year of college theory under my belt. Something that these guys haven't touched on yet is actually something we offer here on YC. We do have teachers here that give free lessons in different areas of music- from general music theory, to species counterpoint, to even full out composition lessons. These guys know what they're talking about. If you're interested in that, let me know and I can get you in touch with one of our teachers.

Welcome to YC, and I look forward to hearing your music. Don't feel discouraged- we're all here to learn.

Liz

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Don't use wikipedia, it is a terrible resource for learning music theory.

96% of Wikipedia's articles are perfectly accurate. To double-check what you read on Wikipedia there are almost always references at the bottom which would give you information as well. Wikipedia has helped my music theory a lot.

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There is some great information in that theory for dummies book, and there are a lot of really great tutorials online. I would recommend using those first if you want an overview of what you already know, but if you can, I would also recommend getting a thick old theory workbook and just going for it!

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Wiki is accurate usually. A few dates are wrong I noticed, but yes, it is accurate.

And theory for dummies sounds....somewhat insulting to a musician :P

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Hey Mr. Comp. Guy!

I'm definitely in the same boat as you. I just finished my first year in college though, so I do have one year of college theory under my belt. Something that these guys haven't touched on yet is actually something we offer here on YC. We do have teachers here that give free lessons in different areas of music- from general music theory, to species counterpoint, to even full out composition lessons. These guys know what they're talking about. If you're interested in that, let me know and I can get you in touch with one of our teachers.

Welcome to YC, and I look forward to hearing your music. Don't feel discouraged- we're all here to learn.

Liz

ye yes yes! i need to be taght!

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