Music-COMP offers one-of-a-kind mentorship {and professional} performances

By Jennie Mull, contributing author

Two resident musicians run Music-COMP, a program began in 1995 that’s based mostly in Duxbury. COMP stands for Music Composition Mentoring Program. Few different applications like this exist on the earth, the place college students from grades three via 12 are matched with knowledgeable composer to information them in composing their very own music. 


Chosen college students see their items carried out by skilled musicians, such because the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Vermont Philharmonic, the ARKA String Quartet, and TURNMusic, every year. 

“There have been some applications which have sprung up across the nation in imitation of Music-COMP. However for a few years, we had been considered one of three organizations on the earth that did this,” defined Erik Nielsen, senior mentor and president of the music-COMP board

“Each time I describe it, I nonetheless type of get amazed that this is a chance that so a lot of our youngsters have entry to,” stated Matt LaRocca, skilled composer and the manager director of the Music-COMP. 

Because the program is predicated on distant, on-line mentoring for college kids throughout Vermont, it fared properly throughout the pandemic. College students continued creating with the assistance of mentors, however the Opus live performance was postponed for this fall. Opus concert events showcase pupil items which are carried out by skilled musicians. The primary one was in 2000.

This July, Stefanie Weigand transitioned from being a refrain trainer at Harwood Union for 9 years to director of schooling at Music-COMP. She works with college lecturers to show them the best way to compose, so the lecturers can then instruct their college students. 



“Music-COMP type of has two branches. One in every of them is mentoring younger composers to write down new music, after which the opposite one is skilled growth for lecturers and serving to lecturers construct of their curriculum,” stated Weigand. 

The summer season institute simply completed up, which is an accelerated program for lecturers to compose a bit. 

This system has sources for varsity lecturers to make use of. There are practically a dozen free sources on their web site, In circumstances when lecturers don’t have time, sources or coaching, Music-COMP steps in. 

Some 2,500 new works have been composed by college students because the starting of this system, and 50 new pupil works are carried out every year. Music-COMP works with college students excited by any style, together with rap, reggae or jazz. 



College students hear their very own work come to life for the primary time in Music-COMP. Weigand recounts one expertise with a pupil at a efficiency. 

“When the musicians began taking part in his music, he simply appeared up from his paper rating and he had tears in his eyes,” stated Weigand. 

Wanda Sullivan, a rising senior at Harwood Union Excessive College, received concerned with Music-COMP as a first-year. Sullivan’s work has been featured in two Opus concert events, together with Opus 34. 

Sullivan collaborated with skilled musicians throughout rehearsals to good her piece. 

“It was like a brand new management function. I used to be in a position to make changes like tempo and simply attempt new issues. And they’d supply strategies and I could possibly be like ‘yeah I like this or no, I do not actually like that as a lot, let’s stick with this,’” stated Sullivan. 

Mentors associate with college students to offer suggestions on their compositions Professors, working composers, Fulbright students and graduates at Julliard have all served as mentors. 

Katharina Müller, a Harwood Union senior in 2020, composed Tongues of Fireplace that world premiered within the Vermont Senate chambers. The Vermont Symphony Orchestra carried out the nine-minute track. Müller plans to go to Oberlin for music composition and artistic writing. 

“She’s having her music performed by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and performed by Jamie Laredo, who’s such a well-known musician that there is a stadium named after him in Bolivia,” stated LaRocca. 

Skilled composer Nielsen has mentored a whole bunch of scholars over the previous 18 years with Music-COMP.

With 50 years of expertise composing, Nielsen oversees different mentors as properly. The suggestions course of is backwards and forwards, requiring mentors to reply promptly and college students to acknowledge the suggestions. 



“You wish to ensure you give that pupil suggestions that isn’t sugar-coated, however is couched in such a manner that you’re exhibiting that pupil respect as a composer,” stated Nielsen. 

One in every of Nielsen’s former college students spoke about her expertise with him to a different trainer. 

“She stated, ‘he talks to me the way in which I wish to be talked to.’ And that is one of many nicest issues anybody’s ever stated to me,” stated Nielsen. 

College students have come again to this system years later. 

“We have had college students who’ve gone on to grow to be skilled composers and a few of them have come again to grow to be mentors themselves,” stated Nielsen. 

In September, Music-COMP is internet hosting an Opus biggest hits efficiency in St. Albans, that includes items from way back to 2000. The postponed Opus 35 live performance, which was presupposed to happen in spring 2020, is occurring in October on the Elley-Lengthy Music Heart in Colchester. In November, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra will carry out two concert events of pupil work. The placement is but to be decided. 

All performances might be open to the general public. 

“Right here we have now elementary, center and highschool college students; they get to see their work performed by these wonderful musicians,” stated Weigand. 

This system culminates for the college yr in spring 2022 with an Opus live performance and a present at VPR carried out by the ARKA String Quartet. 

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