Composers Stan Pethel and Glenn Eernisse put their heads together to offer some basic advice and quick tips for those interested in writing and arranging music.
- Study the styles and techniques of established writers.
- Learn the varying styles and genres of music.
- Listen to the classics – those pieces that have stood the test of time.
- Write for what you know and understand well to start.
- Know your market.
- Be kind to tenors in your choral writing.
- For instrumental writing, know your instrument ranges and characteristics.
- Sharpen your piano skills.
- Find a mentor – listen to their critique with an open mind.
- Develop a tough skin – rejections will come.
- Be willing to be edited; learn the art of ‘letting go’.
- Seek and take suggestions from the pros.
- Know your harmony fundamentals; brush up on your music theory; consider taking an on-line music theory review class.
- Become skilled in notation software. It’s easier than ever.
- Write music that looks playable, accessible.
- Keep a stack of title and song concepts; research public domain texts.
- Check with publishers for submission guidelines – then FOLLOW the guidelines.
Stan Pethel is professor emeritus of music at Berry College in Rome, Ga. Glenn Eernisse is associate pastor of Music and Worship at First Baptist Church in Carrollton, Ga., and a Sons of Jubal member. This article first appeared in the Chorister newsletter.