Music surrounds us, even if we’re not paying attention. That jingle you can’t get out of your hear after watching a commercial, the ambient music of an elevator, the thrilling sounds accompanying an action movie and even your phone’s ringtone are all musical compositions. Yet how do you become a composer? What are the steps in the career path? I mean, it has got to be more complicated than writing notes on a score sheet?

While, I’m an Archivist (not a composer) and my own career path has been a bit winding to get me here, I can offer a guide to getting started on how to get started in music!

First know how to read music, haha funny…but really the beginning of any career success is a thorough knowledge of the basics. Every composer I have ever met started as a musician. Sometimes even as a reluctant musicians. Learning to play will not only give you an idea of the sounds produced, but also teach you the skill set it takes to play and the limitation of that instrument. Many composers play multiple instruments, or have a history of playing in orchestras.

Not only the ability to read complex musical scores, but to also understand how the different musical instruments sound together is vital for a successful composer. Allan Blank was a genius at taking seemingly discordant instruments and creating beautiful harmonies. This is where learning music theory is essential.

This is where my pitch for the F. Ludwig Diehn School of Music starts…

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Old Dominion University offers a Bachelor of Music in Composition for aspiring composers. The program requirements include courses on music theory, ear training, music history, orchestration, piano lessons and applied music composition. These skills will lead to a strong foundation in composition. Allan Blank was a dedicated composition professor and remembered fondly by students and faculty alike. However, I would be remiss in stating that higher education was the only road to becoming a great composer.

Incredible self taught composers include: Georg Philipp Telemann, Amy Beach, George Gershwin and Frank Zappa. Each taking their own route to writing beautiful compositions. Only you can answer which path to writing music professionally is for you. Yet, some things will always be true in finding career success: hard work, learning new ideas, and maybe most importantly, willingness to keep going when things don’t work out. Believe me, a decade ago I did not think this is where my career was going. Still, I couldn’t be happier with my winding road to music archiving.

Click HERE to learn more about becoming a musical Monarch at the Diehn School of Music.

Also, check out The Holiday, great movie with a composer!