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How to Become a Composer

A young guy asked me this morning for my top three pieces of advice on how to become a composer. I told him:

1. Make sure you’re asking the right question. Do you already write music? Do you like writing music? If you didn’t answer yes to both of these questions, then my answer is that I don’t know. I also don’t know how you can become a squirrel. But if you do already write music and you like writing music, then you are already a composer. The question isn’t how to become a composer, but how to become a better composer. And in fact you’re going to be asking that question the rest of your life.

2. Listen to a lot of music. Listen to all kinds of music, even music that you don’t like. If you like something, figure out why you like it; and if you don’t like something, figure out why you don’t like it. Never let yourself get so busy writing music that you don’t have time to listen to music that someone else wrote.

3. Write music for at least 15 minutes every day, 5 or 6 days out of every week. Don’t just write music when you feel like it, because you won’t always feel like it. Sometimes your job is just to show up. Sometimes when you show up, even if you don’t feel like it, inspiration will meet you there.

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