Having completed the Sound and Music Summer School at the Purcell School I can honestly say that it was one of the best weeks of my life. In that week I grew so much as a composer, and it will be invaluable to me in the future when I pursue my career in music. The […]

The evening of day six and the morning of day seven were dedicated entirely to concerts of the final pieces which people had produced. This started with the ‘Film’ group, and then the ‘Jazz’ group. I particularly enjoyed the Jazz concert, as it was done in such a way that it mimicked a dimly lit […]

The day had come: it was time to hear my piece. Everyone in my group arrived to breakfast the next day rather bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived. I could only assume that they, like me, had pulled a late night trying to finish their compositions in time. I was excited to hear the fruits of everybody’s labour, […]

Day five was the most tiring, intense and stressful day of the lot. Writing three minutes of music, entirely by hand, in a crowded environment, for instruments I had never written before and in just 24 hours was, to put it lightly, hard work. But this is not a complaint; that’s what I came for. […]

Day four marked the first day in which we would be working on our final piece. It was therefore with excitement, but also some slight apprehension, that we headed down to breakfast. Before we could work on our piece though, we first had to listen to everyone’s piece based around the rhythmic cycles we had […]

After being introduced to the instruments which were available to us to use, the obvious next step was for us to learn how we might be using them. We had a fantastic opportunity in having Kuljit Bhamra working with us, a well-established musician, specialising in the Indian Tabla, specifically when being used in more Western […]

This was the first day where we were given taster sessions for the other courses available. For me, this involved the advanced instrumental session and the vocal session. As a classically trained musician, the instrumental session appealed to me naturally. We were given the task of writing a short piece for a solo instrument – […]

Meeting people is always a scary experience. There is always a heavy sense of anticipation as you draw nearer to your destination, which you know is unnecessary but which you just can’t stave off. For this reason the long drive to the Purcell School was nerve-racking, to say the least. This was only made worse […]

I had no idea what to expect from this group: I came to the course feeling quite unproductive and dry as a composer and I was worried that I would struggle to achieve anything. However, after the first sessions I knew that I had come into the perfect environment for me to develop. Over the […]

I can honestly say that my week at the Sound and Music Summer School has been one of the best weeks of my life! I was in the advanced instrumental group. It was great to work with such talented musicians they were an inspiration and changed my perspective and approach towards composing. At the beginning of […]

Well – what a week! I’ve been on the Jazz course at the Sound and Music Summer School and I have loved every moment of it. I found working with composers, artists and tutors truly inspiring! I have learnt such a lot in such a small space of time. Issie and the musicians were all […]

Written by Joshua. A student on the Jazz course Despite being assigned to the Jazz group I chose and unorthodox composition route in which I merged contemporary classical ideas with Jazz thus creating a unique sound. My composition used Aleatoric influences from Schoenburg, Boulez and Dai Fujikura as well as jazz influences from a number […]

The last two days have been filled with a variety of taster events. This meant that the students were all split up into random groups and had an opportunity to sample the other courses which have been taking place this week. Here’s a selection of what some of our students thought about the film music taster: […]

I was set the task of composing music for a Charlie Chaplin film. At first I was worried I would never manage to produce a score by the end of the week, but once the ideas started to come it wasn’t a problem! The tutors encouraged us to use few themes but to use them creatively, so I came up with two different themes to represent two themes of the film – fear and confidence. Then came the fun part of developing the motifs to fit the different parts of the film. I especially enjoyed writing a tense duet for cello and flute when the lion woke up!

Throughout the week I’ve gradually been learning to use Logic, generally by trial and error, but the tutors have been very helpful showing us how to do everything we want to do! I feel incredibly lucky to have my work recorded by such talented musicians and to have such a good introduction into the world of electronic music. I will definitely install Logic on my home computer and hopefully will score lots more films – it’s so satisfying to have your own music playing to a film! Thank you SAM tutors!

This is my second time at the SaM summer school, and looking back, I can safely say that I’ve improved in many ways, not only in a practical sense, but also in terms of attitude.

One of the challenges I’ve found is writing a finished piece to a deadline; my first piece had the makings of a completed composition, but lacked a strong identity, something that I feel I’ve captured in this years composition. It helped that between both summer schools I’ve found a sort of ground I can stand on, and not feel insecure about my material or people’s opinion of it.

On a more practical note (like concert C), I have noticed that composing away from the instruments and Sibelius does lead to both more natural and/or ambitious ideas. I feel it is also important to look at your material as a musician, and not just as a composer.

This years composition, and other pieces I have played and/or composed has also led me to believe that material that has been forced, or made to impress people, never really sounds as stuff that I could hear or feel before I put it on paper.

Can I also just say that this year was so rad and inspiring!

Thanks

Being in the Summer School was a dream come true.  It was the perfect opportunity for composers of many kinds to learn, develop, enjoy and share ideas with like minded people.  The Course was split into five contrasting groups;  Vocal, World music, Jazz, Film music and Instrumental music.   I was in the instrumental group, with David Horne, who helped me and the whole group to craft our music for the last performance.  He was so helpful – he gave great advice and I have learnt so much over the course of the week – I wouldn’t have missed this week for the world.

Brilliant people.

Unrivalled composition.

Talent all around.

As a first-timer to the course, the combination of the grand exterior and the bombardment of music opportunity within the Purcell School’s walls could have been rather overwhelming. Thankfully, the atmosphere created by the tutors, runners, chaperones and my fellow students is anything but – it’s refreshing to be involved with people so talented, yet so grounded. The opportunity to have a piece I have written performed by professionals is scarcely believable for a relative novice like myself. Despite being only a week in length, I have learnt a lot from my tutor, David, about composition and music in general – more than I expected. “The more you know, the less you understand” is a phrase that springs to mind! Hopefully, though, this experience can be a springboard into helping through A level, university and then wherever life takes me.

I’ve just finished my piece now this minute and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of the tutors on the summer school.

I feel I can write music without anybody’s help (except it won’t sound like Mozart!) but what I love about the summer school is the fact that the student/staff ratio is about 3:2. Because of this amount of tuition available, and the fact that you’re surrounded by other young composers, you’re skills as a composer, orchestrator and general musician can increase dramatically in just one week.

I’m in the standard instrumental group and our key tutor, David, taught us idiomatic writing for instruments and clever harmonic tricks in just two, very interesting lectures. The rest of that time we spent working our compositions and getting advice from him and the other professional musicians.

It doesn’t matter how advanced you are – this course will help you and give you a week of enjoyment. As I said to some people, it doesn’t matter what your summer holiday plans are (whether it’s Disneyworld, Florida or safari in South Africa), this week will be your best!

The Sound and Music Summer School is one of the most enjoyable courses I have ever taken part in. The schedule is packed full of activities and at the end of the first day I felt like I had already learnt enough to make my head burst!

Usually I find the composing process to be quite slow, with a piece taking several months to finish, but at SAM I managed to write a short vocal piece in just a couple of days, which I put down to the constant inspiration coming at me from all directions – tutors, other participants, concerts, taster sessions and masterclasses. When the week ends I will have a typed-up vocal piece and a performance and recording of it by professional musicians.

Despite the action-packed day, there is still time to make friends – everyone is very friendly and there is a real sense of supportiveness and interest in one another’s work.

Limerick for My First Day

At first why, my heart went boom boom
So nervous, all filled up with gloom
Ah, but then I sat down
And as I looked around
I thought “A place where I can bloom”

Written by Zakia, a Sound and Music summer school student.