FAQ

Q:Will you orchestrate my music for me?
A:

Yes, if you have a professional premiere scheduled for your music or project. Please see the Services page for more information. If you are a student or amateur composer, I’m more than happy to guide you to some resources with which you can train yourself in orchestration. There’s really nothing like the intellectual stimulation and enormous satisfaction that you can get from orchestrating your own music.

Q:Can I take lessons from you?
A:

I get very many requests for lessons. I love teaching talented and motivated students; but most people aren’t thinking about the cost involved of paying for lessons, nor the commitment it might take to fulfill a project. But if you are really serious about this, then please refer to the Services page for more information.

Q:Will you look at my score?
A:

Sure, why not? Post a link to it on the Orchestration Online Facebook group, make sure that you’ve requested that I look at it directly. That way you may also get feedback from many other composers. But if you just want me to look at it without any other opinions, then send me a request through the contact form or message me through Facebook, and I’ll send you back a confirmation.

I can give you the strongest feedback for the fewest pages of score. For detailed analysis, you really should be studying with someone. But if you have a longer score, I can at least give you a few words of advice.

Q:How do I make composition into a daily habit?
A:

Get up before anyone else in your house can bother you about anything, and go compose. Forget about “preparations,” “getting in the mood,” “waiting for the lightning of inspiration to strike,” and all that other romantic nonsense that probably originated from people who didn’t have to be artistic professionally. Just get up and go compose first thing in the morning, every morning. Do not read the morning paper, surf the internet, or check your Facebook. Just get the hell back to work.

Q:Should I copyright my score? How do I protect it?
A:

I’m a member of ASCAP, and both ASCAP and BMI have concert music divisions that assist composers of that genre as much as possible. I register my works with them and with the United States Library of Congress. That is as much protection as most composers need and can get without hiring an attorney. Different countries and regions have different performance rights organizations and procedures for copyright, and you should educate yourself about them as a duty if you take composition seriously as a life pursuit.

The most important time to protect your work is when you have a real financial interest, and you work professionally in the field. If you filed a separate copyright for every student exercise or sketch, you could easily spend thousands of dollars over a period when you only make hundreds of dollars if anything. My advice is to copyright compilations of works – you can register dozens of works for the same amount of money it takes to register one. That way, you’ll have some peace of mind.

Q:Which notation software should I use, Sibelius or Finale? Which is better? Should I switch from one to another?
A:

Nobody can really answer such questions except for you, after doing your own research and testing out trial versions of these applications. I’m a Sibelius user, and I’ve made many reviews and tutorials about it; yet even though I find it the fastest, most convenient way to get my work done, I still wouldn’t claim that it was better than Finale, or that anyone should switch based on my not-so-humble opinion.

Both applications were developed along very personal notions about the approach to a composer’s workflow. The result is that the use of either application becomes a very personal decision, and some people will defend their decisions with thousands of words of vitriol and snark. Not me. I’m happy with what I’ve got, and I don’t care what other people use so long as they can produce a professionally-notated score with easy-to-edit, accurate parts in a professionally convenient amount of time and effort.

Q:Should I upgrade from my old version of Sibelius to the latest version?
A:

Check out my reviews of the latest main version of Sibelius. Though I’m highly critical, mostly because of yet-unfixed flaws and claims that the 38GB sounds are “professional quality,” I still find that the latest version is exponentially faster to navigate and utilize. After two years of use, I find the older versions to be somewhat clunky and slow – but I’m not forgetting that I scored several hours of work on the previous version, and even more on the version before that. And yet I’ve scored more work with the latest version than with those two combined. So I wouldn’t want to go back – but you simply have to try it out for yourself and do your own research.

Q:Help! The 38GB sounds aren't working on my demo version of Sibelius.
A:

Currently, Avid does not supply their 38GB sounds until the full version is purchased.

Q:I have a technical problem with Sibelius. Can you fix it for me?
A:

Sorry, there simply aren’t enough hours in a day for me to help everyone, and furthermore I really don’t know why things work or not. My specialty is in why orchestral scores work, not software. There are technicians at Avid who know thousands of times more about your problem than I do, and they’ll sort you out right away.

Q:I requested membership in the Orchestration Online Facebook group, but I haven’t been accepted. Why not?
A:

You have probably done something to set off our spammer radar. We do not accept:

  • members whose public profiles show no active interest in music
  • serial joiners who belong to hundreds of groups, few of them about music
  • guys with profile pictures of sexy girls
  • any person with an intentionally offensive name and/or sleazy profile
  • especially anyone who belongs to “Sell it on Facebook”-type groups

Some Facebookers like to keep their public profiles minimal, and we respect that. Usually, we send a query asking if you indeed have a strong interest in orchestration. If you haven’t received a query, please send a personal message to me on Facebook, and I’ll sort you out.

Q:I was banned from the Orchestration Online Facebook group. Why?
A:

Most likely you broke the rules. Have you read the group description? You probably said something that was bullying or offensive, stirred up trouble for no reason, or spammed a product or service. The group is one of those rare places where everyone knows how to be a colleague, and no one is trying to make money off of any other member.

Q:How many emails will I receive from orchestrationonline.com?
A:

We try to keep your e-mail inbox as spam-free as possible – so count on weekly to monthly updates, focused on new blog posts, training, and videos. Hope to see you there!