Music From the Inside Out
Music From the Inside Out is the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble’s education program, with components involving composition, workshopping and performance of new works, and an in-depth investigation of chamber music masterpieces. Since Spring 2011, we have worked with students at:
- Oakland School for the Arts
- International High School
- Community Music Center
- John Adams Young Composers Program at Crowden Center for Music in the Community
Composition and Performance
Participants in the composition program engage in a creative process that deepens their musical understanding and culminates in the creation of new works of art. The students write music for chamber ensemble and then develop and refine their pieces by taking part in workshops with LCCE musicians. Our goal is that participants assume the perspective of a composer, to allow them to learn about music “from the inside out.”
Process: Each student creates an initial draft of a new work. More advanced and adventurous students may write a completely original piece, while a less experienced musician may choose to use a favorite song or instrumental work as a jumping off place, and then write a creative new arrangement, setting, and development of that melody. Left Coast musicians offer workshops for all the students; after playing through the piece, the musicians ask the student composers to clarify their intentions and help them identify ways to make their compositions more compelling. Over the course of the semester, the young composers revise, expand and transform their works. For the students, this experience provides a composition laboratory––the best opportunity to experiment with melody, harmony, rhythm, form, instrumentation and notation. Composing for specific musicians, with opportunities to receive feedback, experiment, discuss the process, revise the work, and hear the results is the ideal way to deepen a person’s understanding of music.
Left Coast celebrates the achievement of the student composers with a live performance of the new works for people in their community. Sometimes LCCE is able to program some of the pieces on our regular season of concerts as well.
Chamber Music Masterpieces
Left Coast is committed to opening doors to the rich world of chamber music to a wide audience through events that combine informal performances, open discussions of the music, and interrogation of how master composers put a piece together and how musicians interpret the score and bring it to life.
Case study: Making a Difference at the Oakland School for the Arts
As the director of the classical ensemble program at Oakland School for the Arts, I regularly have the pleasure of inviting various professional musicians and ensembles to give master classes or performances for the benefit of my students. Being primarily a performance-oriented program, the emphasis is usually placed on performance practices and instrumental technique. The Left Coast Ensemble visits have provided a unique opportunity and challenge for my students, one that asks young students to understand and create music at a level beyond just performance.
While a couple of my students had already demonstrated substantial skill and experience at composition prior to the Left Coast Ensemble visits, most were totally new to the process. The opportunity to compose for a professional group of musicians proved to be both demanding and highly rewarding. The projects extended well beyond a typical school project, with students working on their compositions daily for several weeks. As the process unfolded, I began to see a sense of ownership and investment in their works that was a surprise to both students and to their parents.
During the actual visits by the Left Coast Ensemble, students repeatedly told me how amazed they were that their compositional ideas could sound so good. At the same time, they received instant feedback whenever a creative idea could better function with an alternative solution. By combining immediate constructive feedback with thoughtfully executed renditions of the student works, The Left Coast Ensemble members have cultivated a deeply meaningful sense of trust and artistic inspiration among the students.
Hearing their own works and the works of their colleagues played with the technical and musical insightfulness of a professional ensemble has given my students a unique insight not only into the creative process of composition in general, but more importantly it has given them a deeper appreciation of their own creative process and interests. In a day and age when most young musicians view classical music and chamber music as only a re-creative art, it’s immeasurably valuable for these young minds to discover that the art form thrives best when fresh new ideas are given life by each new generation.
-Omid Zoufonoun, Oakland School for the Arts, 2013