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John Ness Beck Composer Workshop

Updated: Jul 6, 2019

Last week was one of the highlights of my compositional career, and it had nothing to do with getting published or premiering a new piece! The John Ness Beck Foundation Composer Workshop gave me a huge boost of encouragement to continue working to produce beautiful church music and to not settle for less than the best I can offer.

John Ness Beck was one of the founders of Beckenhorst Press, which has become the standard for high quality yet accessible church choral music. Dan Forrest and Howard Helvey, on behalf of the John Ness Beck Foundation, put on a 3-day workshop for composers in beautiful Greenville, SC. The goal of the foundation and the annual workshop is to carry on Beck's legacy of compositional excellence by encouraging church music composers in their craft.

Dan was one of my professors in college, and though back then I wasn't always the brightest or the most dedicated student (sorry, Dan...), I did my best this time around to soak up all of his knowledge of the business and technological side of composing as well as his encouragement to not settle for less than my most beautiful work. Howard is widely published and well-established composer, but is also one of the most humble and gracious people I've been privileged to meet. His discussion of intentional improvisation and his detailed discussions through some of his compositions were both extremely helpful.

I feel like I've been very slowly unpacking all of the information and advice from last week, and there's still a whole lot more of that to go! All in all, it's been a good kick in the pants to keep writing beautiful music and be a bit more forgiving of myself when something doesn't turn out as beautifully as I imagined.

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