Policies: Online Music Composition Lessons

Click the link below to view the current lesson policies:

Welcome to the Studio

Congratulations on your acceptance to the studio. You’ve made an important first step in the development of your craft. This text is your guide for lessons, and it will help you understand the process for submitting lessons, receiving feedback, and asking questions.

A Note About Completed Compositions

As you work through your lessons, you will eventually complete works that can be used to promote yourself and publish. When a composition is finished, I will review your work and provide you with a detailed account of all of the issues that are left remaining. Before that time, only in rare events will the entire composition undergo review due to time restraints. As your lessons are generally only one hour long, I often have to prioritize to provide you with the most benefit. It’s up to you to make necessary revisions and continue working on past compositions in your spare time.

Composition lessons are designed to help you improve as a composer, and they are not intended to provide you with a perfected portfolio of works. You’ll learn the skills and techniques to evaluate and develop your compositions, but only you can decide when a composition is ultimately finished. There is an option to purchase an additional lesson during a session if you would like to get off course from your lesson plan and goals. However, in an effort to ensure you make real, tangible progress in each session, once a lesson plan is created, it’s crucial to stick to that plan as much as possible.

Part of being a composer is developing the ability to make decisions about your compositions that are based on a solid understanding of technique. During lessons, I do expect you to do your best to accommodate any requests I make. These requests are designed to challenge you and help you improve, and they don’t always have the goal of providing you with a highly-polished, finished work. You’re taking lessons to be a better composer, not to write what you already know how to write. I will push you, and suggest options and directions that may be uncomfortable. The goal is to increase your technique and broaden your outlook on composing.

I recommend making several backups of all of your compositions as you progress. This way, if upon receiving your final set of feedback for a composition you decide to revert to an older version, you’ll be able to do so.

Final edits on a composition will typically be more comprehensive than edits completed throughout the session.

Lesson Payments

Payment Due Dates

Lesson payments are due before the session begins to receive a discount (when available). You may also pay monthly without a discount. Invoices are automatically sent out before the next month. Payments for the entire session are due before the first day of the session. Monthly payments are due on the 4th of each month.

Discounts

Occasionally, I may offer discounts. These discounts are time-sensitive, and I do it to help offset some of the cost of studying composition. These discounts allow you to purchase lessons for the next session at a reduced rate.

Refunds

Once you purchase lessons, you have reserved time with the instructor. For this reason, we don’t offer refunds. However, it is often possible to receive a free lesson if you are not satisfied with a lesson for any reason. Just ask!

Lesson Submissions

Lessons should be submitted online through “The Composers Studio.” When you submit a lesson, please follow these instructions.

Submitting Scores

  • Manuscript:
    • PDF File or PDF and Notation

Submit your composition in a PDF format unless otherwise instructed. I can open files from any notation program. But, as I don’t need a notation program to hear your music, I prefer a PDF file since it makes it easier to edit and comment on your compositions. If you’d like to submit a notation file as well, that’s perfectly fine, but include a PDF file as well. If you can’t submit a PDF file for whatever reason, an image is also acceptable. Since I’m not always in a place where I can open your notation file, a PDF file will provide the fastest response.


  • Audio Files: Provide a link only.
    • SoundCloud only http://www.soundcloud.com

You may submit audio files as well. These are not necessary, but sometimes they can be helpful. If you submit an audio file, please do not upload it to the studio. There is a quota per course and uploading audio files could quickly use up that quota. You may wish to create a separate account for your lessons if you already have a SoundCloud account.

My username on SoundCloud is uremusic. You can share your audio in a message to me to keep it private. If you do submit an optional audio file, please leave a note with your lesson submission so I know to look for your audio.

  • Due Date: Submit your lesson by 8 a.m. PST on the due date.

Submitting Comments

  • Any comments that go along with the lesson should be submitted in an attached document or along with the online submission in the text editor for the assignment. I can read most any format from common word processors. However, using a simple text file is usually the best option. These files end in .txt.

Lesson Dates

  • Lesson dates are assigned at the beginning of each session. Check the Lesson Overview in the studio to find out the lesson dates for the current session. You’ll be assigned to a group depending on the number of lessons you’re taking.

  • Group A takes lessons weekly.
  • Group B takes lessons bi-weekly.
  • Group C takes lessons monthly.
  • Group D has a special arrangement.

Late Submissions

Late submissions should be avoided, but if you miss a lesson you may submit it up to one week late. If you’re taking weekly lessons, you may not submit any lessons late. However, all students have the option of receiving up to three lesson credits toward the next session. If you plan to submit your lesson late, please email me so that I can re-open the lesson you missed.

Lesson Feedback

Receiving Feedback

Feedback is provided on the schedule listed in the Lesson Overview section of the studio. The feedback may contain images of your score, and it will provide a review of your composition, some recommendations for how to improve your works, and you will also receive your next assignment.

Written feedback tends to provide students with a better value since they can quickly find the information they need to improve their works. I’ve tried many methods over the years including video chat, but the written feedback has worked best for the majority of my students.

Asking Questions

I aim to respond to questions within a few hours during business hours. However, please give me up to two business days to respond to any of your lessons. Business days are Monday through Thursday.

If your question requires an in-depth response, it may have to wait for your next lesson. However, there are few instances where I haven’t been able to respond to a student’s question over email unless the question was sent in close proximity to a lesson due date.

Waiting for the next lesson for a response is extremely rare. Email all questions to [email protected]

Studio Email

If you have questions about a lesson or payment, you should use the studio email. This is the absolute best way to inform me of a missed lesson, ask an administrative question, or get clarification about a bill. It doesn’t hurt to send an email to both the Primary and Alternate email addresses if it’s extremely important you receive a timely response.

Primary Email

This is the primary email for all communications about lessons, and you’ll get the fastest response using this email: [email protected]

Alternate Email

Use this email if you get a bounced email. This rarely happens, but sometimes Google has issues with their email servers: [email protected]

Feedback Response Times

Lesson feedback is usually provided with 2 business days for all students provided you submit your lesson by 8 a.m. on the day of your lesson. Weekly lessons tend to receive feedback the same day, but it’s always by the next day.  If I need extra time to complete a lesson, I will let you know in advance.

If I am late with a lesson, I will contact you to discuss a remedy. In most cases, I’ll either provide you with a longer lesson or give you credit for a future lesson.

Time Zones

Keep in mind, I’m often moving around the country and the world. However, when I give you a time, for the purposes of clarity, I will also give you your due date in Pacific Standard Time.

If I schedule a date in the studio, the time should be reflected with the time zone you select when you sign up. Make sure to keep your studio account updated to get the best experience.

Lesson Purging

When the studio comes close to reaching the maximum storage quota, past lessons may be purged. This generally only occurs with past sessions, and I try to avoid purging any current sessions. However, you should always make a backup of your lesson submissions. Feedback stored via Google Docs is kept indefinitely.

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