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General Resources


Workshops apply to courses generally, although most usually to composition courses. They are organised according to the time available, the material covered, the number of students, etc. For this reason Workshops will be arranged during the course itself. Workshops are used for trying out ideas and getting performances of performable items. Other essential aspects of the activity are the practical and social ones.

Why workshops?

Performing music is both a practical and a social activity - practically, you have to arrange for suitable parts for the performers, arrange the performers themselves and try to ensure that those performers know what they are doing and when; if you are using equipment, you need ensure that it's available, that it's there, that it' working and that it does what you want it to do when you want it to do it. It can be surprisingly difficult to sort all these things out, although most people manage surprisingly well. Don't worry too much if you can't find the instrument you want. Try to find a replacement that can do the job. The piano is often unsuitable for this task.

Bear in mind that in many cases, (but not all) the actual quality of performance itself is not a central issue (although of course it can have an effect, so it is still worth worrying about).

Do I have to participate in the workshops?

Participation in workshops is not compulsory, although you must arrange for a performance in at least one workshop. Most people find participation in workshops useful and time-saving, as if you do not take part, you must arrange for a recording of your piece. The recording must include real people playing real instruments all at the same time in the same room. Computer-based/synthesised versions (of acoustic instruments) are not usually acceptable. If you choose this option, you are at liberty to ask the MPA technician to help with recording equipment.

Another advantage of performing in workshops is that tutors may be able to assess your pieces at the time and will try to advise you of any comments, possibly with a provisional mark, soon afterward. You will then have the opportunity to revise your piece prior to final submission. If you do not take part in a workshop this cannot be done.

When are the workshops?

Composition workshops are usually held in weeks 4, 8 and 12.

Workshop Preparation

You should provide your tutor with a copy of the score or other relevant material concerning your piece.

You should prepare and provide a short program note to accompany your item. This should be the sort of thing you would provide were your piece to be performed in a public concert.

If you are unable or unwilling to play your own pieces you should ask one of the other members of the class. If you are able to play the piano, you should help if possible, although without taking on too much. You have a right to expect a composer to give you a copy of the score in sufficient time for you to at least have a look at it beforehand. If you are a composer you have an obligation to give the performer the part allowing sufficient time for the performer to at least have a look through it beforehand. In your parts please allow for page turns.

Assessment is of the piece, not the performance, although clearly, if someone has taken time and trouble to ensure that a performance is as good as it can be, this will only reflect positively on the piece itself.