Oberlin HS Composition & Vocal Academy COMBO

<p>Hi there! Is anyone familiar with Oberlin's composition programs for HS kids? My Junior S just started studying composition. They have two workshops: Composition; and Sonic Arts (Electronic & Computer music). Sonic Arts can be fun for him since he is learning arrangement using Sibelius. He's a baritone with few years' study; how is Oberlin's Vocal Academy? It might be a good combo for next summer.</p>

<p>I believe that CompDad can tell you something about this program. I can also tell you that there are connections between Oberlin Conservatory and a summer composition program called Walden School in Dublin NH, a wonderful program that I tend to tout as a result of good experience in my family. Students there can do a class in electronic composition as well as acoustic composition and theory; there are also opportunities to perform one’s instrument, playing the compositions of fellow students and faculty.</p>

<p>Just want to say that sonic arts (electronic and computer music) will be quite different from using Sibelius, which is a notation program. The terminology is a little confusing and there are many different aspects to composition with electronics and technology (I am not knowledgeable on this topic, others on CC are). Sometimes traditional acoustic composition is enhanced/mixed with electroacoustic elements, sometimes a piece is entirely electroacoustic and created with real world sounds manipulated in the lab, and sometimes the music/sound is entirely generated electronically, with no real world source. Sometimes algorithms are used and music is generated by computer It can be improvised, played live, or recorded after many months of work in the lab. Programs such as ProTools, Max, and SuperCollider are used.</p>

<p>Oberlin’s TIMARA program is a well-known undergrad program: if you son might be interested in that, or a similar program, versus acoustic composition, then he would want to do the summer program in sonic arts. My daughter composed for several years before taking one class in electroacoustic composition, which she surprisingly, and absolutely, loved, but it is one tool in a tool box so to speak for her, not a focus.</p>

<p>Here is a great presentation by Sean Ferguson (McGill) on electronic/computer music:
[McGill</a> Podcasts » A Composer in the Lab](<a href=“http://podcasts.mcgill.ca/music/a-composer-in-the-lab/]McGill”>http://podcasts.mcgill.ca/music/a-composer-in-the-lab/)</p>

<p>I agree with compmom - don’t confuse Sonic Arts (Electronic & Computer Music) with using a computer to notate and playback music. It’s another animal entirely, and I suspect as you use the word ‘arrangement’ not something your son has yet been much exposed to. He might like it, might not - we have no way of knowing! </p>

<p>There are a bunch of past threads about summer composition programs. Many of them mention the Oberlin programs and have more info. Here are a couple:</p>

<p><a href=“http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/music-major/1301970-summer-composition-programs-after-sophomore-yr-hs.html[/url]”>http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/music-major/1301970-summer-composition-programs-after-sophomore-yr-hs.html</a>
<a href=“http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/music-major/371572-summer-programs-composition.html[/url]”>http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/music-major/371572-summer-programs-composition.html</a></p>

<p>Nothing could be more depressing than reading <em>this</em> thread with the knowledge that Oberlin Comp totally rejected me.</p>

<p>tesIII - Oberlin’s composition department is very specialized with a specific aesthetic bent. There are lots of other wonderful composition departments out there. Perhaps they felt you weren’t a good fit for their direction in composition? And when did they reject you? Last year? Where are you now?</p>

<p>Thanks, compmom! So much information there! When browsing the links SpiritManager gave me, I could feel your conversation of the Paris stuff. Who doesn’t want to go to Paris! Interestingly, my son’s HS choir group is going to Paris and London next spring. I told him I would not have the $4k since that money will go to private lessons. He was so depressed; lucky for him, he found a way to earn the scholarship. Good for him, his favorite repertoire is Faur</p>

<p>Geez, when I took another look at my post. I sounded like bragging there. I’m seeking Oberlin experience here. At the college fair, I asked Josh (Oberlin’s rep) that how come Oberlin alumni doing so well at Met’s audition in recent years, esp. baritones. Josh said he didn’t know. Well, before (possibly) sending S there, I’d really love more info about them. Please forgive any misuse of music terms because I’m a Joe not a Pro.</p>

<p>Baritone2 - Sibelius and Finale are used by the majority of composers today, in every conceivable style. They’re just notation software. The other computer programs you list vary widely from recording tools - to ones creating sound that has absolutely nothing to do with any conventional acoustic instrument.</p>

<p>Does your son understand the aesthetics of the Oberlin composition department? Has he listened to the music of the professors, or read anything they’ve written? There is a clearly defined aesthetic at Oberlin which is not for everyone. Very influenced by European modernism. Please note that I’m only speaking to the composition department here. The performance degree programs - instrumental and vocal are more traditionally classical although open to music of the last century, as well as new music.</p>

<p>I highly recommend you check out the Walden program which compmom recommends. It is, in its mission, open to nourishing and developing the voice of the individual composer, which for a young composer just starting out would be ideal.</p>

<p>Baritone2, my son attended Oberlin’s summer composition program the past two years. It is taught by Oberlin’s comp factory so it is a very good way to see if Oberlin is a good fit. This year he also did CIM’s comp workshop. It was conveniently the week before Oberlin. Before his junior year he combined Sonic Arts with the comp workshop. What the others have said is right on. Sonic Arts is very much about electronic sound art and not just a tech camp and the comp dept is known for a particular esthetic that leans modern European but Oberlin has a good track record of placing grads in strong graduate programs both out of Composition and Timara. My son has had very good summer experiences at Oberlin and has them at the top of his list this fall.</p>

<p>From what I gather, many composition and Timara students who graduate from Oberlin end up at Harvard or UCSD. </p>

<p>Musictechdad is very knowledgeable about music and technology (hence his user name). I like the term “electronic sound art.” He is a great resource.</p>

<p>I do think an argument can be made that it is good to get some experience in acoustic composition before getting involved with electronic work, but since musictechdad’s son did both, maybe your son could too. Musictechdad, was your son able to do both because of prior experience with electronic composing?</p>

<p>Baritone2, is your son going to choose between composing and vocal performance, or try to do both? What kind of music does he compose, and what composers does he like (Faure, apparently!). If he applied to Oberlin, which would he apply for?</p>

<p>There are some threads on summer programs for young composers, if you use the search function. It sounds like Oberlin might be a good fit though.</p>

<p>p.s. the term “arranging” is different from “composing”…it sounds like your son is doing some of both…</p>

<p>Compmom, he got into SonicArts and the Composition camp with different portfolios. His interests in both composition and electronics are related, at times come together and at times are completely unique from each other. I don’t think he would call himself an electro-acoustic composer. His portfolio for undergrad admissions are all acoustic compositions. They tend to lean toward the Oberlin aesthetic, maybe partly because of his time there but mainly because that aesthetic is where he is drawn artistically.</p>

<p>One big advantage of summer programs that might not have been mentioned much in the other threads is the exposure to new music. My son attended jazz camps in middle school and developed an interest in Coltrane, Monk, Mingus, etc. To this day we have to stop at old record stores where he digs through the jazz LPs looking for rare and interesting stuff. Composition lessons and summer programs broadened his understanding of modern (20th/21st century) composers. He tells me he spent a good part of his free time at Oberlin and CIM during the summer digging through their music libraries. Another thing that has helped him explore music during his middle school and high school years is subscribing to streaming music services (we moved from Rhapsody to Spotify a couple of years ago because Spotify’s catalog of modern composers was superior).</p>

<p>Baritone2, I think it is true that summer programs like Oberlin and Walden can introduce or broaden students’ knowledge of 20th and 21st century music. Separate even from the issue of summer programs, it is great preparation for the application process, for your son to listen to a wide variety of modern and contemporary music (“new music” aka contemporary classical or concert music). This will help in deciding where to apply.</p>

<p>One more little thing: can’t say I have ever heard my daughter use the word “fun” in regards to composing!! She might be in the zone, but never fun…Everyone’s different. I guess, for her, and many others, it’s just that the vision she has for a piece can never be fully realized.</p>

<p>Good luck, hope he finds the right program…</p>

<p>Compmom, he’s a junior. He studied classical singing for 5 years; violin for 5 years. It’s bit early to choose, most likely vocal performance. To me, summer camp is just an extra exposure for kids. We like Oberlin is because their focus on undergraduate, their vocal academy is kinda short for him to feel the campus. As mentioned, he started to study composition recently. After reviewing his first composition, the Prof. demoed him a Handel piece to show the similarity. He did learn a few Handel repertoires.</p>

<p>I appreciate everyone’s effort to recommend other composition programs. My concern is rather the experience at Oberlin. </p>

<p>Musictechdad, thanks for sharing! To me music is the extension of language. The other day, he’s listening to a pop song on Pandora; I told him I heard Beatles in it – he switched the station, it was playing “hey Jude” – I told him I heard Faure in the song. The reason, I told him, is that British culture was greatly influenced by French as its colony. (That’s why I picked French as my 2nd foreign language)</p>

<p>Is there a fixed format for talented students? This reminds me one prof. telling us when he saw the Aria book my son’s holding: “Before Sophomore year in college, you can put this book away.” Wow! I guess that’s how classical music is terribly shrinking.</p>

<p>Oops. Compmom, apparently you made another comment before I clicked post. I believe if it’s not “fun”, I’m not passionate about; I’ll skip it. So far, I learned 5 languages. Was there boring time I wanted to throw the book away? of course. Success needs hard work, but first needs passion. Without passion, hard work won’t last.</p>

<p>Now you mentioned about the “new music” element of Oberlin, I even more love it. I saw Classical Singer competition this year set a branch in China; I saw our local classical radio station’s choir sing-off had to extend a week to get enough participants; I saw Dudamel conquered Disney Hall. It sounds like Oberlin is doing the right thing.</p>

<p>Many artists have more passion than the rest of us in order to persevere when their work is difficult. </p>

<p>I am not an artist, so I don’t speak from personal experience :)</p>

<p>So your son is a vocal performer, violinist and composer. Hope he enjoys the summer program at Oberlin, whichever program he chooses, and/or gets into.</p>

<p>Compmom, SpiritManager, MusictechDad and others have provided a great deal of accurate information regarding Oberlin’s composition and Timara programs and how the summer programs tie into them. My son is in second ywear at Oberlin as a composition major and Timara minor. He is very happy at Oberlin. The summer before his senior year of high school he attended the CIM and Oberlin summer composition programs. While he enjoyed both, they were quite different. From this experience, he decided to not apply to CIM as an undergrad and to apply early review at Oberlin to which he was accepted.</p>

<p>He loves the fact that Oberlin has an undergraduate focus which provides a strong base into the best graduate programs. The composition and Timara departments are within the Conservatory’s Contemporary Music Division and I think that sheds light on the programs’ focus. One thing that cannot be said too often is how much work is involved in being a composition or Timara major. The expectations are extremely high. There is also so music going on at Oberlin, several things every day. Composition majors are expected to attend many of these performances. </p>

<p>Oberlin just like CIM is not the right fit for everyone and attendence at the summer composition workshop is far from any assurance of later admission, but it a good chance to get a feel for the program, the school and the town. Plus it is a good chance to polish one of the portfolio pieces for the application and have a recording of the piece played by gifted Oberlin students.</p>

<p>Hello Baritone2. Josh Teaster here, Assistant Director of Admissions at the Oberlin Conservatory. In response to your comment about our conversation, I feel the success of our voice students is due to our focus on undergraduate studies and classical, opera theater training – no graduate voice students, three opera productions each year, which are fully undergraduate productions, our voice faculty and coaches’ knowledge of working with young voices and base language training in a leading liberal arts college. All these hallmarks of our program lead to more opportunities for stage performance and meaningful experiences as an undergraduate student. The opening night of this semester’s opera performance, H</p>

<p>Hi Josh - I didn’t know you would chime in! It was a great pleasure talking to you at the fair. There were booths with no conservatory staff there. You were the most energetic one even you were surrounded by a few arcs of students all day long! We are definitely planning to visit your campus, either during the summer programs or some other time.</p>

<p>Thank you, Compmom.</p>

<p>Compdad, thank you so much for sharing. I watched all available youtube videos of comp faculty Mr. Nielson and Lopez last night. I was amazed by Tom Lopez’s electronic music; the exploration of other sound elements and manipulation (control) of sound. I believe it will benefit greatly my son’s future musical career; whether it’s composing, opera singing, choral music, musical theater, pop singing, or anything. Because I believe everything in the music world, even in the world generally speaking is related.</p>

<p>I joked with him the other day when he’s listening to Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime”. I said it is like a copycat of Madonna’s “Holiday”, the melody, the seductive vocal delivery. That’s why Madonna is still making the most dough last year. In the last 30 years, pop music hasn’t changed much, except that Madonna was still singing legato - reason is she was still dancing around; nowadays singers like Adam Levine sing in a broken way - because they start jumping. You cannot sing legato when jumping around.</p>

<p>I kinda heard the brokenness in Mr. Nielson’s compositions. Encouragingly, he’s using quite some vocals in them. It’ll take some time for me to digest them. But I definitely believe Oberlin is the leader in undergraduate music training. I can’t wait to see the sample lessons for my son, either composition, or singing.</p>

<p>Baritone2 - I commend you on listening to Nielson and Lopez! Not easy listening. And being so open. But, despite your enthusiasm for Oberlin - please keep in mind there are lots of great composition programs out there - no need at this point to limit your search to just one.</p>

<p>For instance, I see SoCal under your name - check out USC and UCLA for composition. They’ve both been hiring some young guns lately which is going to make them very exciting places to study in the next few years. Also Bob Cole Conservatory at CSU Long Beach has some interesting faculty and has been exploring new areas. And then there’s the Center for Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara. And those are all just local choices.</p>

<p>One summer program in California your son might look into for composition is California Summer Music which is held at Sonoma State.</p>

<p>There are many choices out there, many paths he can take. We look forward to accompanying you on the journey!</p>

<p>Thanks SpiritManager. Advice well taken. He is studying w/ Dr Krouse now; he gets this great opportunity because he is a member of National Children’s Chorus. The group is offering eligible students composing, conducting, and voice private lessons with UCLA faculty. He is just blessed.</p>

<p>Recently he entered this year’s YoungArts classical voice audition. Hopefully he can also try the comp category next year.</p>