Talking collaboration, music preparation, and more at the University of Nebraska


This past week we escaped the urban jungle of New York City and headed to the beautiful campus of the University of Nebraska, in Lincoln, to work with students at the Glenn Korff School of Music and the Johnny Carson School of Theatre & Film. The residency was the brainchild of the music school’s new director, Sergio Ruiz, who invited Tongue in Cheek Theater‘s artistic director Jake Lipman and me to discuss our collaboration on the premiere of the play The Inn at Lake Devine, for which I created the music and sound design in 2015.

In the process of sharing our collaborative process, we hoped to inspire students to pursue their own collaborations. The centerpiece of our visit was a presentation to the combined undergraduate convocation and graduate colloquia, moderated by Sergio.

The lively discussion went by in a flash, with the students asking pointed questions about the collaborative process, budgeting, career advice, and more.

In the morning and early afternoon before the convocation, Jake and I separately taught classes at the theatre and music school, respectively. My morning class was an ad hoc group of students assembled especially to subject their scores to a music preparation master class that I gave. They sent in their files in advance, and then we showed their files to their colleagues, while I discussed what was good, and what could be improved.

In the process, I shared dozens of technical tips about Finale and Sibelius. The students were extremely receptive to learning about the importance of music preparation to conveying their musical creations in the best way. Among talk of fonts, page layout, staff sizes, and more, I introduced the students to the hundreds of plug-ins available for use in both Finale and Sibelius, which was completely new information for most of them. Specifically I demonstrated the JW Change and Polyphony plug-ins in Finale, and I showed where the hundreds of free Sibelius plug-ins can be browsed on the Resources page of our NYC Music Services web site.

(A couple of weeks ago, my colleague Robert Puff posted an interview on his blog about the importance of learning about good music preparation practices in college. In Nebraska, I was eager to convey much of the same sentiments.)

In the afternoon, I gave a lecture to Greg Simon‘s American Composers and the Orchestra class. The topic was the recent editions I’ve worked on, with The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, of Copland’s music, including new versions of Appalachian Spring and the Third Symphony.

Of course, no college visit would be complete without a gathering at the local pizza parlor to conclude a full day — and to talk about careers in music:

Special thanks to Sergio Ruiz, to Greg Simon, Jeff O’Brien and all the GKSOM faculty and staff for organizing such an incredible visit and making us feel at home.

If you teach at a college or university and think you would be interested in hosting a similar visit, please get in touch!

Photos of the convocation/colloquia by Justin Mohling/Glenn Korff School of Music

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