Grades 8/9 Composition Project with Composer Jeff Ryan

This term accomplished local composer Jeffrey Ryan worked with grade 8 and 9 strings and band students to assist them in creating their own compositions. Mr. Ryan worked with students over 10 sessions to composition and help students compose short pieces for their instrument. The most recent sessions were conducted over Zoom; students performed their compositions during the last two Zoom sessions. 

By Edward Wang ‘23
When it comes to musical composition, many people ask these questions: “How did they manage to find the right notes?” or “What could have inspired such beauty?” and “How did they manage to convey these complicated emotions with such simple language?”
For me, musical composition is a complicated, tedious and beautiful task, yet I was never satisfied with my creations or I couldn’t bring myself to compose in the first place.
When composer Mr. Jeff Ryan entered the room, he had a unique aura about him, as many musicians do. He’s upbeat and not afraid to use more questionable note combinations. 
As someone who likes instrumental versions of songs and original soundtracks, I initially found it offputting that he would use dissonant note combinations. When asked, he simply replied that “it felt right to him.”
This was an important moment to me, because when composing, I always had a fear whether every note “sounded right,” yet here was a seasoned composer putting, in my opinion, the worst notes together because “sounded right.” The realization that if hethinks that a set of questionable notes sounded fine, then there was no limit as to what I can do. Throughout the session, Mr. Ryan made sure that I remembered that. A slightly off-tone melody? Perfectly normal. A super repetitive theme? Also normal. An incomplete section finish? Totally fine.  
That day, I realized that the only reason I disliked composing was because I was afraid of being judged. But, Mr. Ryan showed me that music is a language, knows no opinions, and accepts all thoughts. 
Click here for our grades 8/9 composition project recording.