User Profile: Meet Mark, Student Composer and Conductor

Foreword by Mr. G, Band Director from Cincinnati, OH

I would like to introduce you to Mark. As a 5th grader, Mark was very hesitant to join band because he was afraid of playing in front of other people. In fact, I had to teach Mark separately for four months before he would join his classmates in band. By the end of his 6th grade year, Mark was conducting the 6th grade band, as they performed his original composition [The Repeat – scroll down to listen and see the score], in a gymnasium full of people.

What happened in between? Three main things contributed to this turn of events:
1) A student who was able to tap into his musical gifts
2) High degree of self-motivation and appetite for learning
3) Noteflight as a learning tool

Not only did Mark learn flute and join the rest of the band, he went on to play a capella solos and eventually conducted the band at a concert in front of a packed gym. Along the way, Mark learned more about Noteflight and taught himself how to use it. He became a Crescendo account user and a self-taught composer, wrote over 50 scores, read Kent Kennan’s book Techniques of Orchestration, and learned music theory. He immersed himself into Noteflight, music composition, and music performance.

Noteflight sparked Mark’s musical interest and creativity and changed his life by helping him go from shy and introverted to being outgoing and confident.

Interview with Mark, from Cincinnati, OH, August 10, 2014

Mr. G, Mark’s Band Director: How did you first learn about Noteflight and get introduced to it?
Mark: I learned about Noteflight because of my band teacher. He just told me about Noteflight because I was interested in music.

Mr. G: Describe the first time you ever got on to Noteflight.
Mark: When I got on to Noteflight, it was a lot of fun because I love music. I just played around and saw what kind of things they had.

Mr. G: Did you just start clicking on the staff?
Mark: Yes. Just clicking on everything; just figuring out how to use it.

Mr. G: After you clicked on some notes, how long until you played something back?
Mark: I didn’t realize you could play it back until about the fourth thing that I made.

Mr. G: Did you find yourself navigating through the menu at all when you first went into it or did you just go in and start going crazy on the staff?
Mark: I just made my own account and just made a new score and just figured out what it had; what kind of fun tools.

Mr. G: Do you remember when you first started going from one part to multiple parts or staves; Did you do that the first time you were on it?
Mark: I do believe I did that on the first time because I just wanted to see what kind of instruments they had. Just figuring out what they could do.

Mr. G: One of the things that intrigues me about you using Noteflight is you haven’t just used it to write a single melody, you use it to write 10,15,20 + part scores. What is it about that that you like?
Mark: I like it because it just works together to make one giant melody.

Mr. G: So you like the interaction of the different voices and different parts of the music?
Mark: Exactly. Like Palchebel’s Canon in D — love that.

Mr. G: Describe what you did when you first started using Noteflight.
Mark: When I first started using Noteflight I just made an account and played around with notes, different instruments, flats, sharps…anything that was fun to me that I could add in a song, I figured out how to use it.

Mr. G: How do you interact with others or share your music on Noteflight?
Mark: I interact with others and share my music on Noteflight by using Skype and send the different links over Skype for other people to either hear it or play it. I usually just get feedback on the name of a song or “hey, great song — thanks.”

Mr. G: What are your favorite ways to use Noteflight?
Mark: My favorite ways to use Noteflight are when I think of a melody that can be used in one of my original pieces or if I just figure out the notes or rhythm to a song that I heard on the radio.

Mr. G: When you are writing original melodies, some people focus on rhythmic patterns, some people focus on a melodic line. How does it work for you?
Mark: I focus on the chord progressions a lot. Everything just changes from one chord to the other as shown in my Film Score Symphony.

Mr. G: Did you write the chords first and then come up with a tune to go on top of it?
Mark: Actually, I sometimes just sit down at a piano or the organ… I was just playing a chord, and then I added a note to it, and then it sounded really cool, and then it sounded like a film score symphony. Then I put that with a harp and piano duet, they were playing the same thing, and then I just added a whole bunch more.

Mr. G: Describe how you went from first starting on Noteflight to conducting the 6th grade band concert, and what role Noteflight played in that.
Mark: I just started on Noteflight as a basic user – I didn’t have much. I had used up all of my 10 scores and then I said “Hey, it would be really cool if I got a Crescendo account.” I just randomly made a whole bunch of notes on the screen, saying “Hey, this is funny,” and then I just changed the score and made it into a piece that eventually I would conduct at the spring concert.

Mr. G: That became The Repeat?
Mark: Yep.

[scroll down to continue reading the interview]

The Repeat by Mark, from Cincinnati

Mr. G: What are your favorite features of Noteflight?
Mark: Some of my favorite features of Noteflight are how you can ‘favorite’ a score and then keep it in a favorites playlist kind of a thing. So it adds a little social feature to it. And how you can make scores and play them back with those instruments and also print them out. In basic you have about 18 instruments, on Crescendo you have 50 plus.

Mr. G: How has Noteflight contributed to your musical development?
Mark: I know now how to make better scores and I know how to write music. It also helps me figure out rhythms.

Mr. G: You have learned a lot about music theory by using Noteflight. How did you start learning your music theory?
Mark: Noteflight got me more interested in learning about music theory. I have an uncle who plays a few instruments and he has a college textbook about music theory and about the orchestra and what instruments with certain instruments. [Kent Kennan, Techniques of Orchestration]. I started reading [it].

Mr. G: If it has, how has Noteflight changed your life?
Mark: Noteflight has definitely changed my life because it allowed me to make compositions, not only play flute. And knowing how to make compositions allows me to become more interested in music. It also has changed my life because of this interview right here-because this is me in a nutshell, and that will be shared with many people.

This is basically half of my musical education. There is flute, and there’s Noteflight

Mr. G: What has music composition done for your self-confidence?
Mark: It has made me very self-confident because I know that I have a huge gift in my ear. I don’t have perfect pitch, but I definitely have a good ear.

Mr. G: Do you like when other people listen to your music?
Mark: Oh absolutely love it – yeah, definitely.

Mr. G: What do you like about that?
Mark: I know that people are listening to my music, it’s not only for me. My brother is an artist, and he basically does that for himself because he loves it. But I want to do this for other people.