Soundfly

Home for the Curious Musician

Student Spotlight, Volume 7: Listen to New Works by Student Artists

I grew up on the coast, so I’m all too familiar with “June gloom.” Still, there’s something eerie about the gray skies that start showing up right when you least expect them every year. Lucky for me, our Mainstage students have been hard at work, and at least metaphorically parting the clouds long enough for me to write this round-up. I hope your day is brightened a bit by this collection of summer sounds and sites (yes, that is the word I mean to type. Just keep reading).

These tracks all came out of sessions with our Soundfly Mentors, who worked with these students either through one of our in-depth Mainstage courses or a self-designed curriculum via our Headliners Club program. Want to work with one of these Mentors yourself? Tell us a bit about yourself and we’ll find the right program for you.

In the meantime, check out the full playlist below, and then scroll down to read more about each student and who they worked with.

“Torpedo”

Student-Artist: Calluna (a.k.a, Euan MacMillan)
Course: Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords
Mentor: Joseph Capalbo
Focus: To analyze more complex pieces of music and find the relationships between advanced scales and apply them.

Joseph: Euan came into Soundfly’s Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords course with the goal of writing music that was polished up and to be able to recognize and apply songwriting techniques used by the bands that he listens to. Now, he has a better idea of how to analyze music from a songwriter’s perspective and has a lot more songwriting tools to construct and finish original songs!

“Advanced Harmony Final Piece”

Student-Artist: Ben Harris
Course: The Creative Power of Advanced Harmony
Mentor: Martin Fowler
Focus: To broaden his harmonic palette.

Martin: Ben turned in a handful of thoughtful, well-executed pieces throughout this course, but this one was exceptional not only in its fulfillment of the brief, but in its sheer musicality! It’s a vivacious piece full of interest and subtle but complex flavors from throughout the course, and it stands as an excellent example of the kind of techniques available from this course.

Ben: The course really helped me make sense of more advanced modern harmony. Before I took the course my compositions were limited to very basic functional harmony, anything outside of that framework I came across by accident without understanding how it actually worked. It took a little while for things to click but once they did a whole new world of possibilities opened up to me with lots more to explore.

Switch

Student-Artist: Mr. Kennedy (Benjamin Kennedy)
Course: Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords
Mentor: Mahea Lee
Focus: To compose and arrange more cohesively, while incorporating emotionally impacting harmonies in his writing.

Mahea: I had a fantastic time working with Ben. He’s naturally drawn to harmonic ideas that balance sophistication and accessibility, so we were able to get into some concepts the established course content doesn’t really cover. His production skills are solid as well, so I reached out to one of our Mix Mentors for some additional thoughts on his final project. Ben took all that feedback into consideration, made small tweaks, and elevated the overall quality of a piece that was already excellent.

Ben: There were a lot of incredibly valuable lessons learned. Two in particular that stood out are: constraints within regards to projects (allotted amount of time, assignments with specific criteria, etc.), and variation in progression and harmonic structure (how to augment an original idea to be more clear, more thoughtful, and more interesting). 

“Those”

Student-Artist: Eric Lake
Course: Headliners Club
Mentor: Martin Fowler
Focus: To finish a track.

Martin: Eric came to the table with a good idea for a track, and walked away with a professional-level track ready for the dance floor, or your hi-fi speakers or cans. He was super professional, to boot!

Eric: The most important thing I learned in my session was how to approach producing with intention and a spirit of experimentation to achieve the specific sound and feeling I’m shooting for rather than simply stumbling through my song.

“Win The Day”

Student-Artist: Ben Stevenson
Course: Orchestration for Strings
Mentor: Ian Temple
Focus: To compose a piece from scratch.

Ian: Ben was a super enthusiastic student with a great willingness to dive into scores and recommended listening from the past and lift lessons from his favorites. One thing many students struggle with is creating a narrative with their music, but that seems to be something Ben just excels at naturally!

Molly O’Brien

Course: TheoryWorks: Music Theory for Broadway Actors
Mentor: Amy Stewart
Focus: To increase her confidence learning new music and navigating rehearsals, and start crossing over from straight theatre to musical theatre.

Amy: Molly is a trained classical actor beginning her journey in musical theatre. She signed up for this course so she could become a smarter musician, and because she knew her ability to read music would help her not only become a better singer, but a smarter singing actor. She met each challenge with a smiling, curious exuberance. And, she got up in front of a major Broadway casting director at the end of our session and sang for the first time in an audition setting, and nailed it! Her bravery and fearlessness was a total inspiration to everyone in the class!

Molly: Being an artist in New York is about always having the confidence to walk into those nerve-wracking audition or rehearsal rooms and before this course, I thought any door that had a music director behind it was shut to me indefinitely. I didn’t study music in school, and although I knew I could sing, my fear of making a mistake that I didn’t know how to correct kept me scrolling past ECCs on Playbill. Now that I have such a strong foundation from the TheoryWorks class and got to experience Amy’s supportive mentoring, I’m beginning to feel more comfortable in this world! Amy is wonderful at not only teaching and solidifying music theory techniques, but showing just how easy and seamless it can be to incorporate those practices into your everyday life. I am so happy I now have Amy in my corner cheering me on!

You can follow Molly’s journey on her website.

Kylie Couper

Course: Headliners Club
Mentor: Ian Temple
Focus: To create a unified brand to support efforts in getting licensing opportunities.

Ian: Kylie is always a super creative and proactive learned, and this time was no different. It was great to see how she wrestled with a branding challenge that pushed her outside her comfort zone, and brought her creativity to bear on an elegant, simple website that clearly presents who she is in a professional way.

Kylie: The most important thing I got out of my session was coming up with a cohesive brand and actually finishing a website! Having a Mentor to answer to each week really helped me move along and make things happen.

You can follow Kylie’s incredible work on her website.

Brandi Cheek

Course: Headliners Club
Mentor: Angela Mastrogiacomo
Focus: To execute stronger public relations efforts and develop better connections in the music industry.

Angela: Brandi was a brilliant student — eager to learn, excited to apply her newfound knowledge, and incredibly good at doing so. In our short time together she made huge strides in her relationship building skills that I believe will serve her for years to come. She did a really great job networking at shows and getting together a schedule of going out and networking on a set basis, and she was really proud of that. (As was I!)

Brandi:  There are so many valuable things I took from my time with Angela that it’s hard to pick just one! Angela took my big goal of developing a PR plan for my band Swamp Child’s upcoming EP release and was able to break it down into actionable weekly assignments that I was able to achieve. The most valuable part of the process though was how she helped me avoid giving into the intimidation of starting a new project in an area in which I had no previous experience (PR) and was available to answer questions for me along the way, which removed any roadblocks that had kept me from making significant progress when I approached the project solo.

You can follow Brandi’s band, Swamp Child, via Facebook here.

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.