Soundfly

Home for the Curious Musician

Student Spotlight, Volume 4: Listen to New Works by Student Artists

Each month, we start a new Mainstage session, welcoming in a fresh batch of uniquely talented student-artists, ready to step up their game and take their music farther than ever before. Our team of Soundfly Mentors works with these creative artists, striving to help them reach their learning goals and build confidence in several areas of music. It’s an intense experience for both students and Mentors, and we inevitably end up wanting to shout about the amazing things they accomplish in a four-to-six week session.

This edition of Student Spotlight features work created in the largest-ever spread of Mainstage courses, from mixing to string ensemble arranging to music theory for Broadway actors, we’re delighted to share these 9 fantastic songs (plus one extra story!) so that the world can now enjoy them as much as we have been.

Here’s the full playlist. Scroll down to hear a little more about each track, how the student approached it, and which course it came from, and learn more about our new Headliners Club program that pairs artists with Mentors uniquely suited to help them build personalized Learning Plans and reach practical, specified goals.

“dangling”

Student-Artist: soayla
Course: Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords
Mentor: Joseph Capalbo

Ayla came into the Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords course as a songwriter that wrote mostly by “feel.” Now, she has a solid understanding of music theory and songwriting so that she can blend her technical knowledge with her creativity to have even more control of her songwriting! Not only is she leaving the course as a more informed songwriter, but she is also on track to becoming a self-sufficient producer for her own music as well!

“Morning in the City”

Student Artist: Izzy Hyman
Course: The Creative Power of Advanced Harmony
Mentor: Martin Fowler

Izzy took on a lot this session, learning classical theory and harmony rules at a collegiate level while simultaneously throwing those rules out the window with us. He was deeply interested in the mechanisms behind film and video game scoring, and we had a blast nerding out about just that. His music is ferociously evolving and I am extremely excited to see his development and hear what’s next for him.

“Quicksand”

Student Artist: Andrei Marica
Course: Faders Up 1: Modern Mix Techniques
Mentor: Martin Fowler

Andrei was an attentive and eager student from the start. He knew just what he wanted to get out of the course, and tackled every challenge well above and beyond the requirements. His before and after versions of this mix are quite stark — he did some incredible work in this session. And, thanks to him, not only can I not get this song out of my head, but in my mind’s eye I hear everything perfectly, thanks to his mix! I’m very excited to hear what Andrei creates next, and where his music takes him.

“O gwmpas eto”

Student-Artist: Ben Harris
Course: Introduction to the Composer’s Craft
Mentor: Tim Maryon

Working with Ben was a real pleasure! His high levels of commitment and enthusiasm led Ben to make great strides in his writing over the six weeks. Through sheer hard work, Ben began to show real signs of a developed and personal voice, something I hope he continues to work on and I look forward to hearing in the future!

“Orchestration for Strings Final Piece”

Student-Artist: Jeffrey Yuan
Course: Orchestration for Strings
Mentor: Ian Temple

After six weeks of exploring different melodies and arranging styles, Jeff finished up with a very interesting, mostly homophonic piece that explored a couple different melodic themes, passing them fluidly across voices. One of the things I see from many students in this course is a tendency to try to do too much, which results in muddiness, but Jeff created a ton of space for his instruments to thrive in.

I particularly love the intensity of the ascending melodic motifs in contrast to the almost laid back descending melodic response. He rounds the whole thing out with a gradual chordal denouement that leaves you not quite comfortable but ready for more. It’s been a total pleasure working with him!

“The Missing Hairdryer”

Student-Artist: Moo
Course: Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords
Mentor: Joseph Capalbo

Wallace had been taking piano lessons for only a short time before he became curious about how chords work together and why certain songs are memorable. After taking the Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords course, he now has a solid approach to continue learning his instrument, to write and create full songs, and can point out why songs are memorable to apply it to his own songwriting! His final piece was written in the style of minimalism and was fully constructed with every chord having the note “A” in it.

“70ssoul”

Student-Artist: Bill Nadeau & the 21st Century Binary Backup Band
Course: Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords
Mentor: Joseph Capalbo

Bill is a great example of a guitar player with great chops that just needed to hone in on a bit of music theory to organize his playing and songwriting. Bill now knows the chord names to all of the chords that he had been playing for years and can arrange them into sensible, working progressions because of it. Hopefully, we’ll be hearing some of his new original tunes played live in the near future!

“Here and Now”

Student-Artist: Hewoja
Course: Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords
Mentor: Mahea Lee

Herwig is such a creative and highly-skilled musician. Throughout our session, he submitted work that demonstrated a wide range of instrumental ideas and emotional tones. He tackled each new challenge with so much enthusiasm, exploring and employing concepts like chord scales, tension/release, functional harmony, and voice leading along the way.

“Here And Now” is a wonderful piece of music. I love the careful thought he put into his arrangement — blending traditional and contemporary elements beautifully. In the end, he created something that touches on many of the harmonic concepts discussed in the course, while also incorporating his personal taste and artistry.

“Monsters and Dust”

Student-Artist: Fallen Future
Course: Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords
Mentor: Mahea Lee

I really like the music James is creating, and am glad I had the opportunity to discuss his harmonic instincts. On top of being a knowledgeable and skilled musician, he has a great ear and is naturally drawn to some very cool compositional ideas. This meant that we were able to touch on some concepts outside of the regular course content — things like using mode mixture, and ways to strengthen a piece’s narrative arc through arranging.

Just like the book that inspired the track’s title, “Monsters and Dust” is lovely, haunting, and — as fits the course — emotional.

Rebecca Tucker

Course: TheoryWorks: Music Theory for Broadway Actors
Mentor: Amy Stewart

Mentor quote: Rebecca was an absolute star student. When she first started, she had never conducted before or led herself rhythmically through a piece of sheet music. By the end of the course, her beat pattern was rock solid, consistent, and confident — I was absolutely blown away. Rebecca went straight from our course, where we focus primarily on the music for Nice If You Can Get It, directly INTO the lead role OF Nice Work If You Can Get It with the Stage Door Theatre in Broward County, Florida — an absolutely wonderful moment of kismet, and example that what we work on in this course is applicable to your career — even immediately!

Student quote: TheoryWorks was incredible for me on so many levels! It refreshed music theory knowledge I hadn’t used in years, challenged me with a whole new level of theory I had never touched before, and taught me essential skills for learning new music fast and efficiently for auditions and jobs. The course was flexible enough to match my specific needs, and having a mentor to meet with 1-on-1 every week made me feel as if the course was hand tailored to me. I now feel like I can confidentially and independently tackle any new piece of music that comes my way for auditions, callbacks, and future gigs!

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 nine courses, including those mentioned earlier, as well as the Headliners Club. Our mentors are passionate, experienced musicians with a shared love of personalized learning and artistic curiosity.

You can find more information on our courses here or by reaching out to [email protected].

*If you think you have what it takes to be a Soundfly Mentor, learn more about the program here.

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Mahea Lee

Mahea Lee is a classically trained pianist and composer who has a degree from a jazz school and leads an electro-pop band. Her greatest musical passion is lyrical songwriting, but she's been known to write the occasional fugue. She graduated from Berklee College of Music, where she majored in Contemporary Writing and Production and minored in Music Theory. For more Mahea, check out Soundlfly's course, The Improviser's Toolkit.