From contemplative songwriting, to epic beats, to carefully crafted orchestrations, September’s student artists have created some memorable pieces in their Mainstage courses. Over several weeks of detailed content, constrained prompts, and personal feedback and support from a Soundfly Mentor, these students were able to explore and develop musical skills in areas like production, composition, and performance. Here are a few highlights:
“Strings Quintet, n.1”
Student Artist: Stefano D’Agostino
Course: Orchestration for Strings
Mentor: Ian Temple
“Stefano and I focused in on a couple things: the sound design of his digital strings, achieving simplicity and dynamism in the arrangement, and drawing out emotions through the piece. Stefano worked in the DAW rather than through notation, and so we played with realism by leaving the grid behind and allowing individual instruments to shine through. We also worked on simplifying elements of the arrangements, particularly the chordal and polyphonic textures, so that the main melodies felt clear and coherent.
With his final piece, I think Stefano achieved a really amazing vibrancy and power. The way it climbs the register increases the tension and emotional pull. The monophonic transitions create urgency and more power. And the different treatments of the different sections create a lot of interest and variation. Overall, he created a beautiful piece!” — Ian (Soundfly Mentor)
“The Simmering Now”
Student Artist: Colin O’Hearn
Course: The New Songwriter’s Workshop
Mentor: Joseph Capalbo
“Having an instructor who provided assignment goals that were based on the specific items I wanted to improve with my songwriting, as well as the direct feedback that came with it was hugely helpful. The other element I like was being challenged to finish within deadlines and having accountability — usually when I’m working on things on my own, I tend to get self-critical and shelve things before they’re completed. With this, you have to minimize your level of self-filtering and judgment, trust your instincts, and get things done.” — Colin (Student Artist)
“It was a pleasure mentoring Colin through Soundfly’s New Songwriter’s Workshop course. He came into the course with a background in songwriting and finished the course with the momentum of a professional songwriter.” — Joseph (Soundfly Mentor)
Student Artist: Patricia Pichardini
Course: Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords
Mentor: Martin Fowler
Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords is a course that aims to demystify the world of harmony. Students explore concepts like tonality, mode mixture, functional harmony, and constant structure. In addition to working with borrowed chords, Patricia brought her own musicality to the table here, experimenting with ways to voice her harmonies and finding an excellent balance of tension and release. On top of that, she added a vocal line that does a perfect job of tying the piece together.
“Still Life 2″ and “Shades of Taupe”
“I worked with Jeff in earlier sessions of Introduction to the Composer’s Craft and the Headliners Club. He has a beautiful perspective and really seems to look at his music from multiple angles. In addition to writing music, Jeff is a gifted photographer, and that comes through when you listen to his work. In the composition course, we discussed the foundations of writing music — things like form, tonality, etc., and then went on to develop his artistic voice during a follow-up session of the Headliners Club.
I was thrilled to see he had signed up for The New Songwriter’s Workshop. Though he was fairly new to lyric writing, Jeff jumped in with both feet and did a great job from the get-go. Raven is a fantastic mentor, who went as far as to sing some of his writing so he could get a vocalist’s perspective.” — Mahea (Soundfly Mentor)
“This course got me out of my comfort zone, forcing me to write compositions that are within a vocal range.” — Jeff (Student Artist)
Student Artist: Robin Baugh
Course: Beat Making in Ableton Live
Mentor: David Harri
This course covers quite a bit of ground. It starts with some Ableton basics, and then moves through important concepts like velocity, variation, and sound design, closing out with an intro to advanced techniques. Robin was a remarkable student who came into the course pretty new to Ableton and ended up creating this awesome, professional-sounding track. There are so many cool elements at play here. It’s a really nice blend of variety and cohesion from start to finish. Check it out, but be warned that you may end up leaving it on repeat.
Ready to Reach Your Musical Goals?
Our Soundfly Mentorship program is built on our belief that accountability and guidance can have a huge impact on helping students reach their goals and develop their musical identities. We currently offer mentorship with seven courses, including those mentioned earlier, as well as a Beta program called the Headliners Club. Our mentors are passionate, experienced musicians with a shared love of personalized learning and artistic curiosity.
If you think you have what it takes to be a Soundfly Mentor, learn more about the program here.