Reflection on the course

Before starting this course, I completely underestimated the importance of orchestration. This was the first course where I didn’t really know what to expect from. I was positively surprised by the structureof the exercises, including some very interesting approaches to explore music from different sides.

In comparison to the time taken for previous courses, I’ve been working on Orchestration and Arrangement for more than a year. This was mainly caused by personal circumstances, but nonetheless, I think the learning impact was even more enhanced through this duration, as I took more time focus on the exercises instead of just hurdling through them. As it was a HE 4 Level course, the structure was also slightly different than before. I had to work more independently, which was something I initially had to get used to but eventually really enjoyed.

As creative work and a result of this course, I chose the Assignments 2,3, and 5. I personally felt most confident working on them, but there was still much room to improve. Through the really helpful Feedbacks I didn’t find it too difficult to work through the Assignments again. I also made a list of some of the mistakes I made for myself, to learn from them for later compositions.

The most challenging part for me was probably unit 3. I find it still really difficult to work with brass instruments, mainly because I haven’t played one myself yet and find it therefore difficult to understand several playing techniques. Furthermore, I associated brass instruments mainly with a heroic character. Nonetheless, several Listening Log entries, for example Mutter’s Ages for trombone and piano proved to me, that there are more scenes and colours that can be created through a brass instrument.

This obviously doesn’t only count for just one instrument group, I certainly learned different sides of each instrumental group covered throughout this course, which is knowledge that will certainly influence my future choice of instruments for compositions.

My tutor’s reports were incredibly helpful. I found it was a perfect balance between encouragement and constructive feedback, helping me to focus and improve on direct parts. Another new aspect for me were the three action points I had to take at the end of each unit. As I could choose them myself, I noticed quite quickly where my weaknesses were and could directly try to work against them. A hurdle, which follows me since I started studying is the language barrier. Even though I’ve been living in the UK for over three years now, I still stumble over several aspects of expression. Something I’ve come across several times, is describing how and not why I perceive a piece of music in a certain way. This is something I want to work on in the coming courses. I am especially grateful for the Annotated Feedback for Assessment 6, which was really detailed and also pointed out some smaller errors.

The exercise that I enjoyed most working on was definitely the Field Recordings.Having written this piece where I had to take the inspiration from a simple recording of a garden also brought me nearer to have more understanding for experimental sounding music. Also, the free choice of instruments gave me the opportunity to implement what I’ve learned over the course until this stage.

The Listening Log entries where more difficult this time; I didn’t quite know how much time I should spend on one piece. I put much more attention to the ones involved in exercises or assignments, but feel I could have put more time on other entries as well. Something that came up several times within my action points is to go more into detail about my personal opinion on music examples. For the next course, I will try to put more focus on explainingmy own thoughts and statements as well.

Something else that was new for me was the reflective evaluation. Here again, I found it was great that I had a completely free choice about the topic. Overall I think that this closer look at a piece, which has most of its weight on instrumental colouring, summed up the different insightsI had over the course on instrument groups and combinations incredibly well.

In conclusion, I hugely enjoyed working through Orchestration and Arrangement. It helped me to see the importance of well-considered orchestration as well as the colourful diversity of a single instrument. I furthermore want to mention, that I’m really glad to have done this course before Moving on with orchestration, as I think the learning process I made through Orchestration and Arrangementis a great foundation to use for the next course. I also liked the balance between practical work, such as arranging pieces myself, and theoretical work. The knowledge I gained won’t only affect future compositions, I already noticed, that it also affected the way I listen to music, as I pay much more consideration towards the instrumentation now.