EDIT: Due to the recent events in Minneapolis and the importance of allowing the voices that need to be heard in this moment to have the full attention they need , we have decided to postpone the camp . These specific classes may still happen whether through the camp or by my own offering in the future. Please stay tuned for updates and thank you for your understanding.

Hello Fellow Music friends and Fans,

I am excited to announce that I will be teaching some courses for a Summer Music Camp offered by Maestoso Music Studio. The best news is, that it is online so YOU- and/ or, your students/ children, can participate in real time, without having to leave your front door. There are lots of other quality courses to choose from, but these happen to be the three that I am excited to teach.

Session 1- June 8th- 30th


This will be a listening and discussion based course where I will expose the participants to music they may or may not have heard before by LIVING COMPOSERS, written within the last 30 years, give or take, in several genres spanning from wind band and orchestra to jazz, and video game music. The purpose of this course is to open up the ears of the participants, expand their minds to musical possibilities and show them that composers are indeed real people who are alive and creating as we speak. We will discuss the pieces, how to find new music, and the class will conclude with a creative project

This class may include a meet and greet with a living composer- who is not me by the way- but you’ll have to participate to find out!

Age Range- 8th Grade – Young adult (though adults are welcome too)

When-Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2-3

Session 2 July


I will be teaching a bare bones introduction to music theory suitable for those who are curious about the world of theory and how to use it. I will also be sprinkling in some examples and instruction of how to use theory to improve your sight reading ability and learn parts of that solo on your own.

Some knowledge of theory is recommended but is not necessary for this course.

Age range- 8th Grade- Adult

When-Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2-3

Session 3 August


This will be a course for those looking to get their feet wet in the world of music composition and arranging. One class will be spent introducing the free software MUSE SCORE – though if you prefer to use another Music Notation Software, that is ok too. At the end of the course, each student will have composed a short solo for their instrument and a duet.

Some theory knowledge is necessary for this course. Might I recommend taking my Practical Theory course?

Age Range- 8th Grade- Adult

When-Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2-3

If you are interested in signing up for this course or any of the other courses in the Creativity Club Music Camp please follow this link.

I Can’t wait to see you there!!

My 2020 Music Goals

As is now the tradition for me, I have written down my music related goals for this coming year.

The reason that I do this is because it gives me something tangible to periodically look back on and remind me of the things that I set out to accomplish. As a person who is very focused yet paradoxically gets distracted easily, this is very helpful to have when it comes to staying on track.

BIG GOAL: Pay off the last of my student debt

As of December of 2019, after years of sacrificing 90% of of my “fun money” (the little bit left over after bills and minimum payments are made) , I am down to my last 5K. Though there is far more debt to tackle (mainly the mess that is my SO’s student loan and the last bit for the used car that we purchased after their’s died), this will be a huge load off my back. The bit of anxiety I’ve felt since starting college because of this will finally be gone! Additionally, though much of my “fun” money will still go to start helping with my SO’s loans, I can start saving for things like buying scores, taking colleagues out for coffee more often, and grad school applications (if that is the road I go down for sure. This year will be a big indicator if/ when I can or should do that).

Mini Goal: Actually get better at marketing

I am going to start by aiming to get something out at least once a week. This may be a piece, a blog post, or (ghasp) a youtube video. Stay tuned for more on this one.

I will also make more of an effort to be more interactive on social media by either posting or commenting at least once a day.

Mini Goal: Finish setting up the store and sell some gosh danged scores (at least 5)

This is self explanatory. 2020’s the year it’s going to happen.

Part of my plan is to contact some music distribution companies to help get my music electronically accessible as well. (As of now, I can only offer physical (but personally autographed) copies as I lack the funds to pay for the technology that would help me prevent electronic file theft at a level that I’m comfortable with.

Mini Goal: Increase teaching studio numbers

My goal number for 2020 is 10 students. I am trying to keep it to no more than 3 evenings to avoid burnout as I already work 40 hours a week at my day job. This makes it more difficult, but, I am determined. Also, this will certainly help me build up the wealth I gave up by committing to paying these loans. The ultimate goal though is financial freedom.

Marketing with social media posts, hanging posters for my teaching business, and handing out cards for those who can help me with the word of mouth factor should help.

BIG GOAL: Be more giving/ pay things forward more

Though there is a long way to go to get where I want to go, I am thankful for where I am in life and acknowledge that a big part was because of the help and kindness I’ve received from strangers, mentors, and friends.

As soon as my 5K is done, I am going to begin donating a portion of what I used to have to pay on a regular basis. I am going to pick a couple of the helpful podcasts I’ve taken advice from or gotten enjoyment out of in an otherwise bleak existence over past years, and join their patreon pages. I won’t name which ones I’m going to pick. But, I have an idea for a future post where I outline my current favorites and you can speculate from there if you’d like.

I also aim to help out with a charity at least once (preferably more) this year by giving back some time.

My last part of this goal is to treat at least one person to lunch and/ or coffee per month.

BIG GOAL: Participate in at least 3 speaking, conducting or solo performance opportunities

As someone who wants to do this for a living, I need to get out of the Toastmaster’s training grounds and start putting these skills to use in the outside world. This is the bare minimum and I will do my bet to list them in next year’s follow up post.

Mini Goal: Participate in at least 1 Collaboration

Assuming that participation in Film Score Fest works out, this goal should be no problem.

Mini Goal: Finish all Current Works in progress and don’t add any new ones if you are over 3.

As of now, I’m finishing up the last Painless Parker’s Giant Bucket of Teeth (for Concert band), the electronic piece that my Composition Mentor has me learning with, and this year’s Minneapolis Trombone Choir Concert Piece.

Once one of these is finished, I’ll begin work on a Project that I cannot talk about….yet, and brass band piece.

BONUS: As this is a special year being the beginning of a decade, I thought I’d list a few things I want to accomplish in this upcoming decade that are music related. These may have to change, but for now I can dream and begin aiming. At the very least, I have this list to refer back to when making future goal posts.

  1. Go to Grad school- FOR MUSIC-and not go into debt to do so
  2. Pay off All Debt
  3. Attend some composer retreats and workshops
  4. Teach at a high profile event or music camp
  5. Be able to travel a few times a year for my Ideal music “job”
  6. Write my first symphony and compose at least one Big piece a year (with premiers and commissions of course)
  7. Be able to make my living composing, teaching, and performing/ occasionally conducting by the end of this decade

Thanks for reading!!!

Good News Everyone!

A few weeks ago I wrote a preview post of what I was currently working on and now have some news to accompany one of the projects.

In it, I mentioned that I was working on a film score that included 12 tone craziness among other things. Well, I’m proud to say that the film that Jason Schumacher and I have been working on the past few months was selected for the MnKino Film Score Fest.

This means that it will be screened with a LIVE ORCHESTRA playing the score simultaneously!! As a bonus: there is a theremin in the orchestra this year ( and yes I utilized it in the score)!!

The Event takes place at the Science Museum in St Paul MN on July 20th at 7:00 PM.

A link to the Facebook event page can be found here where you can reserve tickets. But, you’d better act fast because I’m told they go quickly.

Additionally, there is a pre-screening at 4:30 of the films that did not quite make the cut for the live orchestra to play. They are the product of months of hard work by talented collaborating artists of differing disciplines and deserving of viewing as well.

If you can’t make it because MN is a bit too far away, or have another reason (i.e. work and family obligations, or you couldn’t get tickets) I have even better news for you.

This event is live Streamed!!! Please make sure that you follow the Facebook page and click the “interested” button in order to get reminded of the event and receive a link to view it.

Additionally, if you got the Futurama reference in this post, we can be friends.

Hope to see you there!

Composer Kitchen News May 2019- letting the cats out of the bag

Hello Friends and Fellow Music fans,

It’s time to let the cat out of the bag.

Couch Potato kitty!

No- Not this one!

Not this one Either- though he will be important soon!

I am working on not one, but two big projects.

The First that I am excited to tell you about is a BRAND NEW Horn Solo. This one is going to be very special when it is done as it is being written in remembrance of a very special individual who made a positive difference at the Dana School for several people and was loved by many, as he loved all of his students: Mr. Bill Slocum. Bill Richter commissioned me to write a horn piece for his Master’s Degree Recital (where he is doing something fantastic and commissioning and premiering several new works from composers). This was the perfect opportunity to write this piece and pay my respects to this beautiful soul and gregarious spirit. There are other reasons why this is going to be an extra special piece and I promise to post more about it at a later date. For now, here is a preview video of the first bit as I’ m working on it.

Next, I am participating in the MnKino Film Fest again this year. It is this fantastic event (that I missed last year thanks to Snowmageddon) where composers are paired with independent film makers and you make a film together. The added bonus is that live musicians play the score to the film at the premier.

Fortunately, I was paired with the infamous Jason Schumaker and he is kindly allowing me to bask in his awesomeness (seriously though, he is a very humble and kind individual in addition to being extremely talented). I encourage you to check out some of his films on his website (LINK)

At this point, we don’t know if our film will get chosen to be screened, but, I can tell you that there’s going to be a Birthday party, Human Fire, a giant cat (yes the one in the above picture) and some crazy 12 tone music action (and other music filled awesomeness). Heck, we don’t even know what it’s going to be exactly, except for AWESOMESAUCE of course!

Shot of the cast and crew of this film in progress.
I am not in this picture because my car died on the day of filming, but I hope it inspires you to go to the film fest on July 20th.

Till Next time,

Happy Musicing!

…….And now for my 2019 Music Goals


Hello Everybody,

Last year I set some goals and mini steps to work on accomplishing them, along with reminders to update on my progress and it actually helped. If you are like me and need some focus, I encourage you to try something similar. Even if you have just one goal, set a reminder on your calendar or phone to evaluate your progress periodically.

If you missed part one of my post from yesterday: The yearly review, here it is.

Now For the list:

Big Goal: Continue to increase income

Mini Goal: Set up the rest of my online store:

The official launch is still a little bit of time away, but, I have learned how to integrate Paypal and have started updating my site. Thankfully, taking this job allowed me that small boost in income to justify upgrading my site plan to the next level so that I could do this. Given time, it should start to pay for itself and help me with this Debt repayment plan. Also, eventually the financial cushion to be able to allow myself to invest in composition lessons would be nice.

I will be using most of my “free time” to work on this with an aim to finish by March.


Mini Goal: Sell more music

This is self-explanatory. I like to eat food, darn it!


Mini Goal: Increase my teaching studio size

I am hoping to build to 5-8 students by the end of next year. It is a small number, but, given that I am now working Full time and want to avoid burnout, I would like to keep the teaching schedule to no more than one or two dedicated evenings a week. I’ll be emailing a few teachers in the area and asking around in my social circles to look for students.


Big Goal: Get out there even  more than in 2018

Mini Goal: Jam More

Luckily, I have made some Friends who wish to play for fun through the various music groups I’ve been fortunate to be a part of. Periodically looking at this list should remind me to call these people once in a while to play duets or make some noise.


Mini Goal: Go to more music gatherings and concerts- that are not my own.

The aim is to attend 1 a month. This should be easy, right?. If I can attend more, that would be awesome but, based on last year, 1 a month seems like a reasonable goal.

Mini Goal: Get better at this Marketing thing.

The last few years have been a study period with listening to podcasts like The Portfolio Composer and The Entrepreneurial Musician to name a couple and reading business blogs and books. This year is the year where I will begin to put these things into practice more than In previous years. Step ONE: Finish the store and Launch it through Emailing and Social Media Posts, along with not being afraid to mention it when networking.  Step TWO: while doing step one,  work on the goal of getting out to concerts and networking events, along with interacting with more people in general, whether ion the internet or in person.

BIG Goal: Get healthier

I know that this does not seem like a music goal, but believe it or not, it is. I would like to play my trombone to the best of my ability and be able to think clearly more often so I can focus on writing and accomplishing tasks.  This past year took a small toll on my health, mostly from the stress and eating crud like candy and ramen noodles a lot of the time. My level of focus and energy has gone downhill and I generally do not feel like I am in good shape anymore. Thankfully, I am still relatively healthy, but will be incorporating more veggies, even if I have to increase the food budget a bit and cut back somewhere else. Also, I’d like to try the gallon challenge where you carry around a gallon jug and aim to finish it by the end of the day. Having things in front of me to remind me to do the things seems to help. Come spring, since my new job is about a mile from where I live, I will be walking to work every day that it is not raining as well.

As a mini goal, I’m going to start getting up an hour earlier on work days to take care of me, whether that happens to be exercising or writing down ideas.

Big Goal: Write More:

Based on past experience, I Know that I NEED external motivators in the form of “homework assignments” from other people to be able to compose in this stage of life. Composing for myself just does not happen- unless I’m mindlessly jamming at the piano. There has to be a giving element in there somewhere for my best work to happen. By getting out there and meeting more people, this will likely lead to some more opportunities to write for others and more inspiration.

Also, as the urge to write seems to happen most often at night when I *should* be sleeping, I am no longer going to fight this- even if I do have to get up an hour earlier now with this self-imposed schedule. Bring on the Insomnia!


What are your 2019 Music goals? I would love to hear about them, so please don’t be afraid to comment. Happy New Year, Happy Musicing and Good Luck!


Jump vimeo from Beth Peloff on Vimeo.

Hello, Fellow Music Fans. It’s time for Show and Tell!

A while ago, I participated in the MNkino Film Score Fest 2017 and had the opportunity to work with a wonderful Individual, Beth Peloff of Green Jeans Media. After the successful premiere of “Blobs Adventure” in July,  we spent a lot of time trying to get together to celebrate this fact.

Fast forward to December.: After a bit of a creative rut on my end, and lots of reasons involving life happening, Beth and I finally reunited. When I discussed my problem with her, she offered to send me a short film she had worked on to give me a worthwhile (and fun) project to focus on.

This is the finished product. I hope you enjoy!

What I took away from Composition Intensive

Recently, I had the magnificent opportunity to attend the St. Mary’s 2 week long composition Intensive, and boy was it Intense. It was a fantastic experience overall, and I got to learn from the likes of Zae Munn, Michael Schelle, Kristin Kuster, Jay Batzner, David Murray, and Joshua Marquez as well as the 16 other talented composers who attended (see the bottom of the page for links to some of their pages) and even participated in most of the masterclasses offered. As describing the experience could get extremely jumbled, I have decided to provide a basic list of what I was reminded of and remember learning in the two week session.

Most of the St .Marys group

Most of the St. Mary’s group. Top Left to right: Samantha Hogan, Zae Munn,Cody Kahul, Evan Jay Williams, Daniel Ang, Sakari Dixon Middle: Tori Orvil, Robin McLaughlin, Lam Khoa, Jay Batzner Bottom: Gil Dori, Jeffery Nicholas, Joshua Marquez

1) The World is much bigger than we realize. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the protective bubble of where we are used to (for example the university). However there is so much more to do as well as territory to explore in the world composition than I was previously aware of.

2) The World is much smaller than we realize. Case in point, some professors knew my teachers as well as the other participant’s teachers. Also, some of the participants knew each other from attending other composition festivals.

3) Lugubrious is a fantastic word and is not only used by YSU’s trombone studio, but by fellow composers as well!

Composers at work

Composers at work

4) How to network better.

5) Things I should be doing that I wasn’t doing before concerning advancement toward my desired career: Entering more contests, applying for residencies and attending more festivals, and researching certain grad programs that I was not sure of where to look before. Also, I need to be recording my pieces more often. The suggestion to contact the music ed department to ask for placement to get experience working with students and teachers in clinician type settings was also suggested for me to try (Thanks Robin!).

6) How to go about the things I wasn’t doing before.

St Marys 2014 Site specific

A Site Specific Piece, “The Island” by Lam Khoa being performed at a masterclass.

7)From Michael Schelle: You can still be your- (eclectic, unconventional, cat loving) self and still be a successful composer(Yes,there is hope for everybody who really wants this) what a site specific piece is, and new methods to include extra musical influences in my music like theater for example. Also, don’t trust the Dining Hall’s grilled cheese.

8) From Kristen Kuster: How to interact with an audience professionally and in a way to avoid boring them when you talk about your piece. This was needed as my experience talking in front of large groups is limited at this point and I can use this. In accordance with her valuable suggestion, I am going to try laying out my pieces horizontally in a time line format to get a better sense of what I am doing as far as building up pieces and refining their form.

9)From Jay Batzner: It’s ok to focus on writing for young groups as a composer (even needed) and that I am going in the right direction with the piece I brought in for our lesson (Reverence). Moreover, I was enlightened in the ways of electronic composition and how to go about trying this cheaply. The possibilities excite me and I cant wait to get started on exploring this “new” world.

St Marys 2014

Michael Schelle Master Class        Pictured: Nathan Brown, Lam Khoa, Samantha Hogan, Michael Schelle and Robin McLaughlin (piano)


10)From Zae Munn: “The Big Permission slip” solves any doubt about what you “shouldn’t” do in composition. Also, the lesson she gave me provided a better understanding of how to use text to shape a composition and how to set text.

11)From Joshua Marquez: He introduced me to the “over bowing triangle marking” and I’ll probably use it the next time I attempt to write a string piece. Additionally, he showed me how to better use Audacity to clean up audio.

12)From David Murray: A thorough understanding of how string instruments work. Also, he is a beast at sight reading! His recording of the techniques I attempted to employ in the bass piece sketch will serve me well in a future piece.

13) Squirrels can make Kicka** mascots. Ours was eventually named Cheeeeezy when Whiticre Whiskers and Berkowicz was eliminated.


14) Most importantly, I learned that I  have a fair shot at getting to do what I want  as a career for the rest of my life and that it is not a mistake to chase my dream. Additionally, I should and will keep playing my horn (thank you for the encouragement everybody) as it is important for a composer to keep a musical and personal connection to the performing world and I am not the only one to hold that view. (Also,unexpectedly performing  for nuns is fun and oddly satisfying).In the mean time though, it’s Bach to composing to hone my craft, and working on life one step at a time.

Here are some  links to my new friends and future colleagues sites/sound cloud pages. Please check them out as there is a large variety of music to explore composed by some talented people who are certain to go far.

Adam O’Dell     Robin McLaughlin     Jeffery Nicholas    Sakari Dixon

Andre Codeco    Kevin Wilt     Tori Ovel     Nathan Brown


My Latest Expirament

Thanks to my composition inquisitor (aka teacher), I have been working on a piece completely unlike any other I have attempted as of yet. Scott challenged me to  abandon my usual frame of having a story to compose  and instead  write what is called a Visual-Spacial notation piece. Basically the piece does not have bar lines to designate strict meter subdivisions. Instead, it leaves it up to the performers to designate where the musical figure is to fit within where the designated time specifies. It calls for ordered improvisation with a demand for the group to play as an ensemble.  So far, the piece looks like this:

(Click picture for a larger view)

Composing this piece has forced me to think more freely about musical lines and textures and to consider multiple possibilities for the building blocks of a work.  Along the way, my teacher has had me looking at various scores with non-traditional notation by Cage, Varese and others I may not have picked up otherwise and we have discussed them in our lesson. Many Cagian  ideas such as indeterminacy have made it into this piece as a result. For example, I got the idea for how to break up the time by rolling dice except for the 30 second section, where I anticipate the performer to successfully make a sandwich with the ingredients already set (mainly because I timed this myself at home).

Other than the fact that I am using kitchen percussion and adding the humorous element of a musician making a sandwich for no other reason than to add improvised non- traditional sounds, this piece lacks a preconceived story and instead has its own underlying framework. Although I anticipate that the piece will sound “wonkey” if and when it is performed, I have enjoyed trying to think within this loose structure.

Highlights from the Last Month

So, it’s been awhile since I have had time to post anything on here. 1 month in Internet time is equivalent to “like forever” in real world time as we all know. In order to make up for that time, I will attempt to explain the highlights  in a nutshell:

1) Cumulus Humilis was performed 3 times by Avguste Antonov the week of the New Music concerts at the end October. In that time, he was approached by Hartshorn record company in NY to record a cd of New piano works. To make a long story short (too late) he chose my piece to record on the Cd and I am still ecstatic!!!

2)New Pieces have been written- As an added unexpected feather in my cap, I was asked to write music for the upcoming Worlds Quest browser game. This was my first official video game related project and I am elated to say that my first attempt was a success .To sum things up, they liked it-a lot and I am grateful. The game will be released  on December 20th.

Also, I have been working on a new experiment at the request of Scott. I will be writing a blog post about it shortly. Other plans include creating a  collection of one page solos for  from all of the 8 bar excerpts that were composed for Instrumentation class this semester. I am debating calling the collection Doodles and Scribbles or something to that effect.

Desiree Carrion and I after Carols and Cocoa 2013

3) I played my last Carols and Coccoa concert of my undergrad. This was a surreal experience as it is hard to believe that the time has flown that quickly. Kudos to my friend (and soon to be SAI sister) Desiree Carrion for having her first arrangement for Trombone ensemble performed. God Rest Ye Marry Trombonists was a ball to perform for a last hurrah ,and I especially cracked up singing the Lyrics “to save us all from Schoenberg’s Music when we’ve gone astray”. For a three hour plus long annual concert that we all complain about, I’m sure going to miss performing in it-sort of.

4) In November, I helped premier  a piece for Trombone quartet by fellow composer Richard Zacharias called Pardon My Slide with my friends Mariah Bailey, Bo Violette and Andrew Stamp. I also had the honor of Performing The Dance of Spring for Yanda Zhu’s Graduate Composition Recital. If you haven’t heard of him, you probably will soon.

My Top 10 Composers

*Disclaimer: This list tends to fluctuate on an almost a weekly basis as there are numerous composers that I admire and respect. The composers that have made this current list are the ones that end up on this list most often when someone asks me this question and are in no particular order of ranking .  When you reach the bottom, I encourage you to comment on some of your favorite composers and add to the discussion. That being said, lets get on with it.

#10: Gustav Holst

Who are they: An English composer responsible for the first original concert band piece  (Suite in Eb)and composer of The Planets among other fantastic works.

Why is he/she a favorite: He wrote some of the first band music, my favorite large scale orchestral piece (The Planets) and was also a trombone player. His story of how hard he worked in his lifetime by teaching himself to compose, deal with  having a weak constitution, and teaching many, I find inspiring. Also,I love his sense of melody and use of folk tunes in his works.

#9 Joe Hisaishi

Who are they: The composer behind much of the wonderful music in Hayao Miyazaki’s films. For Example: My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Howls Moving Castle, and Princess Mononoke.

Why is he/she a favorite: Many of his melodies are breathtakingly beautiful. I was first exposed to his music when watching anime such as My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited away, and Howls Moving Castle. When I saw him playing the piano AND conducting his own pieces simultaneously thanks to you tube, he instantly became one of my favorite living composers. He not only writes notes, but knows how to make music as well.

#8 Igor Stravinsky

Who are they: The composer responsible for the alleged May 29th, 1913 riot. It was all his fault for composing The Rite of Spring.

Why is he/she a favorite: I am a sucker for rhythm and rhythmic gestures. That being said, Stravinsky’s music captures my attention in a way that most music evades. I can also appreciate how he as a composer evolved from his early Firebird Suite days and developed a distinct voice that is heard in his ballets Petrushka and The Rite of Spring and in  Histoire du soldat . Incidentally, he was also one of Frank Zappa’s favorites as well.

#7 Koji Kondo/ Junko Tamiya/Hirokazu Tanaka

Who are they: Composers behind the music for various Nintendo and Capcom Titles. To name a few: Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda (Kondo), Bionic Commando, Little Nemo, The Dream Master (Tamiya), Metroid and Super Mario Land (Tanaka).

Why is he/she a favorite:  Having grown up in the era of the Nintendo Entertainment System, I was exposed to the 8 bit music of these games on a regular basis . Composers for these games had to be extra creative because they had a much more limited sound palate and range  to work with and had to create music that looped indefinitely. Although the  midi “instruments” sounded like beeps and boops (which probably helped earn  its passe reputation with more “serious” music critics) some of these melodies are surprisingly harmonically complex.  Kondo and Tamiya and Tanaka   are grouped together because it was their music that I was first inspired to pluck out on the piano  Many of my earlier compositions (and some recent) echo their influence.

#6 John Mackey

Who are they: Self made composer known for writing lively pieces with lots of percussion and ostinatos.

Why is he/she a favorite:  Did I mention I love Rhythm?  Also, his blog is a bowl of fun to read and he has an adorable cat. Musically speaking, I remember playing “Strange Humors” for the first time in All College Band and thinking “Woah!,  You can use Djembe in a band piece? And, I’m really allowed to gliss on my trombone? So this is what modern  band music sounds like.” Besides the fact that I enjoy his compositions, I admire him for the fact that he has literally made composing music his day job and does both the creative and business sides of music himself.

#5 Claude Debussy

Who are they: French composer labeled as an impressionist, although he probably would have disagreed with that label, according to a music history professor of mine. he Wrote the infamous Clair De Lune and  Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune.

Why is he/she a favorite:Because he dared to be different and not follow the conventions of Western music that he grew up with and still made beautiful music. The colors and scales he uses in his music are what draw me to it.

#4 Frank Zappa

Who are they:Composer known for his sensational stage antics, complex rock, Jazz, Classical and everything in between, and knowing everybody.

Why is he/she a favorite: Yes, I know that many people look at Frank Zappa the person and are instantly turned off by the absurdities or look at some of the vulgarities in his lyric content and are too disgusted to consider listening to the music. Just as many are probably intrigued. Personally, I try to ignore this when applicable and try to focus on the music only. That being said, he was very eclectic and resourceful, drawing on several influences, sound palates and styles. This is  a strategy I try to emulate with my own music but in my own way. Many are also unaware that he wrote classical music as well. The  style transitions in his music are also genius.Fun fact: Although he is no doubt eccentric, he did not support drug use and was relatively clean, aside from liking his Smoke and drink.

#3 George Gershwin

Who are they: A composer who successfully fused American Jazz, Tin Pan Alley and Classical and is known for Rhapsody in Blue, Porgy and Bess and An American in Paris.

Why is he/she a favorite: This man’s music is Fun to listen to. I’ve Got Rhythm, Swanee, and the tune from Rhapsody in Blue all got stuck in my head at one time or another and, unlike most ear worms, I was OK with it. Also, although I did not list any more jazz composers on this particular list, Jazz  is a genre that I enjoy listening to and it is interesting to hear the obvious influence in his music.

#2 Ralph Vaughn Williams

Who are they: An English composer who was a friend to Gustav Holst and wrote some gorgeous orchestral music in my humble opinion.

Why is he/she a favorite:  Three words: The Lark Ascending.

#1 Me…….Just Kidding

The actual # 1 is Bela Bartok

Who are they:Hungarian Composer who gathered Folk melodies, wrote pieces for students and professionals alike.

Why is he/she a favorite: As an avid lover of Folk influence in music, he is a composer up my ally. Plus, in theory classes, I sincerely enjoyed analyzing his music. It was fun to see how much thought was put into his music and it still sounds musical to me. Unlike many other pieces that I have studied, his have always been like putting a rewarding  jigsaw puzzle together. After doing the academic work to find the visual pattern on the page, the resulting sound “picture” was not torture to the ear, even with the amount of sophistication in the pieces studied. Also as a teacher, he knew how to write music that was geared towards teaching students that was also not corny (like many tunes in student level books) to listen to when playing through it. On top of that, his last name is just plain cool;cool enough for the white bat in Anastasia to share the same name.