Lessons

I am currently accepting students in several areas of study.  The subjects outlined below are divided somewhat arbitrarily; since these are all interdisciplinary fields, some overlap will occur. I have provided curricula outlining the general course of study that is suitable for beginning students.  More advanced students are able to choose their own topics for more specific focus if they desire.

Private lessons can be taught either in person or via correspondence (Skype with screen share, e-mail).

In Person (Washington, D.C. area)
At the discretion of the student, in-person lessons are taught in 1 hour or 1.5 hour increments, preferably weekly or biweekly.  Assignments given during a lesson are expected to be completed by the next lesson.

E-mail/Skype
Lessons via e-mail/Skype are conducted in an alternating manner, with material being given and discussed via e-mail (often including PDFs of scores, handouts, etc.), with applied lessons occuring via Skype. This normally occurs on an alternating weekly schedule.

Alternatively, for more advanced writers, I am also available for “guidance counseling”, in which a composer/arranger will send a piece to me in any stage of development for constructive criticism, comments, and ideas.  I will spend time familiarizing myself with the piece and write detailed comments, suggestions, thoughts, and ideas.

Please contact me for further information at scninmer08@gmail.com.

Subjects

While I have provided some curriculi below, in reality, lesson structures are flexible and are tailored to each individual's strengths, weaknesses, ambitions, etc.

Theory/Harmony
The student will start with fundamental musical concepts followed by counterpoint, proceeded by chorale writing, with harmonic complexity and possibilities increasing with each lesson. I have found that learning counterpoint before chorale writing helps the student develop the skill of thinking about music as a collection of individual lines moving through time rather than as a series of vertical harmonic structures (a common hurdle of composers of any ability).

Here is a link to the Theory/Harmony curriculum.

Jazz Harmony/Composition
The student will build off of the harmonic and theoretical concepts provided in the above curriculum. A solid foundation in the western classical idiom is essential for learning the language of jazz harmony. Just as essential is the knowledge of the African rhythms upon which jazz was founded. Time will be spent learning both tonal and modal jazz harmony, as well as the forms unique to the jazz idiom.

Here is a link to the Jazz Harmony/Composition curriculum.

Jazz Arranging: From Small Group to Big Band
In order to progress to writing for large ensembles, it is essential that the student learn how to write for each instrument individually and then how to write for the instruments in combination. After learning the techniques of writing for small jazz ensembles, the student will learn how to write for each section of the big band. In thinking of each section of the big band as an "instrument", the student will learn how to write for each "instrument" individually and then how to write for these "instruments" in their composite, the big band.

Here is a link to the Jazz Arranging: From Small Group to Big Band curriculum.

Jazz Arranging: From Big Band to Studio Orchestra
Continuing from where the student left off in their early studies, the student will learn how to apply larger scale forms to big band composition and arranging and how to develop material. Common instrument doubles (flute, clarinet, flugelhorn, etc.) will be introduced, as well as the instruments of the studio orchestra, the expansion of the big band. Other topics include reharmonization, deconstruction/reconstruction, and arranging for a featured soloist.

Here is a link to the Jazz Arranging: From Big Band to Studio Orchestra curriculum.


Please contact me for further information at scninmer08@gmail.com.