Why give all this music and these resources away for free?

Taking a bow with a Kiravan soloist after the premiere of my opera, Kiravanu
Taking a bow with a Kiravan soloist after the premiere of my opera, Kiravanu

Well, I’ve been Tweeting regularly for several months now, and keeping a ‘latest news’ list on the front page of my website, www.composerhome.com, but that doesn’t allow me to talk much about what I’m sharing with the world there. So now a blog.

At composerhome I share dozens of pieces of music that I’ve written, and dozens of lesson plans and music education resources, especially centred around music technology. Some of them combine all these elements – music to perform, lesson plans to teach the music and ideas for integrating technology into the classes.

Why do I do this? Well, perhaps at some point in the future a nice publisher will say “James, your compositions are fantastic, we’d like to publish them. And those ideas you have for your music classes are amazing, we’ll publish those too”. And a symphony orchestra will ask “James, your compositions are fantastic, would you be kind enough to become our composer in residence?”. And when all these lovely things happen to me you’ll have to pay lots of money to buy my music.

But in the meantime, I’m another composer lucky enough to be regularly commissioned and paid to make resources and play with technology, so I share it all. To be honest, I’d rather give it away and lots of people get use out of it than have it all locked up while I wait for the above publisher/symphony orchestra to give me my big break. So I hope you have fun with it.

Sibelius on the iPhone
Sibelius on the iPhone

I have been very lucky to have many pieces commissioned over the years. My focus the last 5 or 10 years has been writing music for school and college ensembles, sometimes with supporting curriculum. The combination of supporting curriculum for repertoire is the topic of my PhD, which I’m a couple of years into at the University of New South Wales.

When an ensemble or institution commissions me they retain the exclusive rights to perform and record the work for 18 months – longer if they request it. After that time the music appears here. Some commissions also request that I go in and teach or conduct the work myself.

I mentioned a few more opportunities I’ve had. I was lucky enough to work for Sibelius Software for nearly 9 years. During that time I worked in many facets of the business – support, sales, marketing and later on product management, which was like a dream come true for me.

I only chose to leave Sibelius because I was given a unique full-time composer-in-residence position at MLC School in Sydney, a school that has one of the most innovative and exciting music programmes anywhere in the world, let alone in Australia. Since working full time at MLC I’ve been made an Apple Distinguished Educator, so my opportunities to play around with music technology haven’t abated! And my position at MLC gives me time to both compose and write curriculum and resources, much of which I also share here.

MLC School
MLC School

The next few entries in this blog will go through resources that are on the website, with direct links to them. I’ll also fill you in on what I’m creating at the moment that you can look forward to using in the near future. I really hope that you enjoy reading these blogs and get lots of use out of the free music and resources that you can find on my site.

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