The CoDI Mentors scheme has been an absolutely fantastic opportunity. Being paired with Sally Beamish was a dream come true - I knew it would be invaluable to learn from her experience as both a composer and performer. Over the last two months we have met six times via Skype and the journey has been one of exploration, discovery, and development. Sally has really energised my thought process by challenging and inspiring me and her sessions have given me a renewed focus on what I wish to explore through my compositional voice.
The discipline needed to prepare for each session really gave me great goals to work towards and it has given me important structure and motivation during these uncertain times. I don’t think I would have been able to compose much during this period without Sally guiding me to unlock several compositional blocks.
Sally helped me to try out different structures and approaches to the writing process. Particularly, using methods such as the Pomodoro Technique to help me to manage the time I spend composing (for instance to write earlier in the day and do clarinet practice later in the day, whereas before I did it the other way round!). It was also great to explore how our knowledge of performance informs how we write music.
We also worked on potential ways to ‘spark’ creativity in different situations, which is essential for a composer and performer. I have also learnt lots about how to approach situations in which you are juggling writing several different pieces at once! Setting short term achievable goals and allowing time to listen to music that inspires me has become key to this.
The last two sessions really developed my technical understanding of writing for string instruments – as a wind player this has always been an area of confusion for me, but thanks to Sally’s mentorship I now feel more confident approaching string writing and have enjoyed composing a miniature solo piece for violin. We discussed using smaller instrumentations as a creative vessel to spark ideas for a large orchestral work.
Sally pointed me towards many amazing pieces, composers and poets - I particularly loved learning more about the Prokofiev Piano Sonatas, the poet Sara Teasdale and the extraordinary audio clip of the duet between a Nightingale and the cellist Beatrice Harrison! Check it out with the this link: https://www.bbc.com/historyofthebbc/anniversaries/may/cello-and-nightingale-duet