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Future Live Classes

Discussion in 'Classes & Discussion' started by Mike Verta, Mar 20, 2018.

  1. While the video for the Brass class is rendering, I have time for a few thoughts about future live classes...

    We campaigned for 6k, raised 12, and it cost 14. Now, that's on me; I upgraded the venue, got us an additional camera/operator, and upgraded the light package, but looking at the material all together, no way would I have wanted to have less or fewer. So that's just something for me to keep in mind.

    I'm not sure I need 3 full hours for woods. Could probably do it in 2. Ditto Percussion. The combination of Brass, Woods, and Percussion is the size group that did tons of television scores in the 60's like Star Trek - it's an amazingly complete group of sections, even without strings. Putting the three groups together that's about 30 musicians.

    For strings, I wouldn't want to do a reduced group, but a full symphonic one - 16,16,12,10,8 - it's what I always use. And the dynamics for working with a large group are different than for a small one. So just for strings that's 64 people to pay for.

    See what I'm getting at here? The "word on the street" right now - among players - is good; they really enjoyed the session. It would be good to capitalize on that and start lining up another session. Thinking incrementally, the move might be to do a 4-hour class - woods and then percussion, and if it really looks like it's going to take off, then make it a 6-hour, and the last 2 are with brass, woods, percussion.

    These classes are a different beast, but will soon be a "known quantity," which will help to entice people who might not have been sure whether they were worth it or not. That will play out how it will, but shouldn't necessarily dictate what happens next...

  2. I'm very interested in a woodwinds class. It is completely absent in most modern scores and when you hear them in mockups it's usually Cinesamples Hollywoodwinds playing pre-recorded runs and that's about it for them until the next crescendo. Composers get away with all kinds of weird shit on the strings or with the horns of doom, but it is obvious why most stay away from woodwinds. I think a class on that topic could very well be the only useful, practical material available other than the traditional orchestration literature.
  3. Hi Mike, with the caveat that these are only my own observations and I can't speak for anyone else...

    There were two general aspects to what I learned from the session:
    1) Characteristics of brass ensemble balance/performance/rehearsal/conducting/etc.
    2) Characteristics of brass instrument writing (articulations, timbre and volume at different dynamics and ranges, what's easy/hard to play, etc.)

    With regard to #2, actually, some of the most educational moments for me were observing when & how individual players occasionally fumbled a note. (I was thinking, "If these is a world class brass section and this is consistently a difficult line for them to play, how poorly would some of my writing hold up if taken on by average players!!")

    However, I couldn't help wanting at many points to hear even more from individual instrumentalists talking about playing their own instruments, interpreting notation/dynamics/articulation markings, and going into more detail in the type of sharing I would relate to #2. Of course, it wouldn't have been a very efficient use of time to have an entire brass section sitting in a studio for that kind of education to take place, but those were still some of the most valuable points that I got out of the session.

    All that to say, this thought recurred to me a number of times through the whole afternoon... perhaps these two different (admittedly overlapping) categories of knowledge could be treated separately:
    1) With a full section (or more) in a studio to teach concepts that absolutely couldn't be learned any other way.
    2) With one or very few instrumentalists in a simple environment (even your house), focused more on treatments for the instruments themselves rather than their use in a larger ensemble. (And if you have some multi-talented performers who can play and compare/contrast across the range of instruments in a section, even better.)

    It seems like splitting out these two types of teaching could offer much more efficiency in terms of cost, and make it possible for everyone to get the most bang-for-the-buck.
    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  4. Mike, that sounds amazing! Do you think there's gonna be a chance to have a class with the full orchestra one day? Or is it gonna be too expensive/too complicated to put together? I would personally be very interested in that, even if that means putting a bit more money on the table...
  5. This is covered, ad nauseum, in a 1000 places on the net already. People have actually linked to some of them in this thread.

    Claude - it would be nice to do a full ensemble - we'll see.
    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  6. Mike, thank you for the awesome brass masterclass - this was a fantastic idea and very well executed indeed! I'd also love to see woods next, so start the next campaign as fast as possible! :D
    Paul T McGraw likes this.
  7. Yes to all of it.

    The only thing I would add is that it'd be great if you could scan in the charts with the musicians' notations from each session. You've mentioned several times how invaluable that kind of insight is for a composer and it would be great to lay eyes on it!
    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  8. I’d sign up for woodwinds and perc, even if the price goes up.
    Paul T McGraw likes this.
  9. I, too, would be more than happy to pay a little more if that helps ensure that a complete series of these very valuable masterclasses can be created.
    Like you said at the beginning of the campaign, Mike, material like this can teach things on orchestration (and not only that), which one will never learn working with samples exclusively.
    And the enormous luck we have that these high-class musicians are willing to participate in something like this cannot be overemphasized.
    So, count on me signing up even if it is a bit more expensive.
    Paul T McGraw likes this.
  10. I haven't seen the brass class yet, not being able to watch live. But I know enough about Mike and his musical instincts to take it on faith that the brass class will be awesome.

    I think Mike, that you should charge more. And personally I will most likely just watch the video, so for me, if doing it live costs more, then I would say just do a video. That may not be true for everyone. I was a music major in college, so I had the chance to play in lots of different small groups, and attend performances of many other small groups. But I still think I will learn something from all of the classes you decide to offer.

    Here is a suggestion that I hope you will consider. Woodwinds are wonderful, but they have a hard time carrying a track effectively all on their own. The most popular woodwind chamber group is the quintet, and it includes a horn. There is a very good reason for this. The woodwinds by themselves quickly become boring. If you have ever tried writing for just woodwinds, it is more difficult to stay interesting than one might think. OK, so here is my idea, include VI strings. Woodwinds have the greatest impact when they are contrasting with strings or brass, so including VI strings will make the tracks more musical. Second, if more and more recordings are blending live and VI then why not show how it is done?

    How do the musicians manage to be musical when playing along with prerecorded strings? How does the conductor manage it? Click track? Obviously, if this is how it is being done for actual movies, showing how to make it happen would add a lot of value to the class.
  11. It was, and will remain (the more my skill increases), a profoundly valuable class.

    One every few months would certainly be financially feasible for me, and I'd be willing to pay more. I'm sure this will sell afterwords considering the feedback of those who were watching/attended.

    For the record, I found the tolerance of minor mistakes extremely refreshing. One of the most valuable takeaways from this class is the importance of seeing and understanding the human, and how it's inseparable from the player. The players sure looked like they appreciated it too.
  12. Afraid I'm going to have to differ with you, @Paul T McGraw on not being able to make woodwinds alone interesting and self-sufficient, but you do highlight that the principal goal here is work on sections. Horns and Trumpets/Trombones are different enough that balance issues are important to highlight. I really think that a 6-hour woods/woods+perc/woods+perc+brass show might be cool, but I'm still thinking on it.
  13. #13 Paul T McGraw, Mar 21, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
    If anyone can make woodwinds only work, you are the guy to do it.

    If you have woodwinds, brass and percussion you have a concert band, or wind symphony. Perhpas you could save some money by using an established group. There might be an all volunteer adult concert band in Southern California who might be thrilled to be in a video for you. They probably could provide a venue also as these bands have regular rehearsals. Adult volunteer bands can be sort of inconsistent regarding skill levels, so best to listen to them first if you decide to go that route. Another possibility is the concert band for one of the universities. Didn't you have a teaching relationship with one of them at one time?

    My favorite composer for concert band is Philip Sparke and here is one of my favorite works.

  14. I love this idea Mike. I'd again be willing to pay proportionately more for it. While damn near everyone doing a trailer writes (albeit poorly in many cases) for brass, woods is oft neglected and an integral part of some of the greatest scores ever written (duh). I think the idea of showing how to balance them between other sections would be immensely valuable.
  15. The dynamics of working with musicians specifically in the idiom of soundtrack recording is an important aspect, I think, because that's the target of 99% of people pursing composing and taking the classes. I certainly could've populated the Brass class with other players; I wanted studio guys for exactly this reason. They're very specific beasts - the fact that they can sight-read better than some groups can perform after weeks of rehearsal is part of the dynamic, and changes much. To your cost point, I obviously agree these experiences are worth tons more than the cost, but I remain firmly committed to doing everything I can to make them accessible to as many young composers as possible. In the end, it all works out, but my masterclasses never have been nor ever will be a significant source of income; that's what my clients are for. Sure, it'd be great not to be in the hole a couple grand every outing, but even that, over time, will even out. The real truth? Education shouldn't be this hard or expensive.
  16. If only...
    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  17. It's actually not in Scandinavia, or Germany. They even have *gasp* public health insurance!
  18. And your adherence to integrity in this matter is precisely why I'll pay more, Mike. You don't have to charge more, just give us tiers, or even a donation option to fill out the costs.
  19. The marketing guy in me is thinking woodwinds + raising prices might reduce viewers and end up costing you more. Maybe keep pricing the same and set the grand total higher on the kickstarter?

    [Edit: you already said that. I should read more closely.]
  20. Are the downloads available as of yet I was out of town and could not be there for the LIVE class....?!

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