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Patrick D. Kelley ’09 shares his experiences in Composition Seminar

Patrick D. Kelley ’09 (Shillington, Pa.) is a Trustee Scholar double-majoring in mathematics and music. This semester, Kelley is a member of the composition seminar taught by Skip Wilkins, assistant professor of music. The following is a first-person account of Kelley’s experiences with the course.

This semester, I’m a member of what I think we should call a composition workshop with five other composers. It is somewhat of a seminar since we’re all working on our independent projects, but it’s more of a workshop in that everyone shows or plays their works-in-progress for the class.

More importantly, we all get feedback on these pieces from the other composers in the class. To me, this is important because it makes me realize that I’m not composing in a vacuum. That is, I am aware of what others are creating, and this gives my compositions more of a context. Also, feedback from the group is often encouraging, and more than that, sometimes the ideas that float around our discussion actually help to advance the progress of a piece. During the compositional progress of my major work this semester, I have been stuck several times but each time an idea from the group or an individual has catalyzed my compositional process.

Also, rehearsing and performing our pieces is a vital part of the compositional process, and helps create real-world composition situations. Completing a piece is one thing, but there’s really no point to composing unless you can get the piece played. The idea of premiering a major composition is very exciting to me and I think it makes this class and our composing more relevant and important. I suppose this really is a unique kind of class because it mimics a real-world composing environment, but it’s occurring at Lafayette, which is a safer composing environment than the real world.

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