How to become a composer: Grace's story

a young woman sits at a desk with computers and music composition technology
Quote

It's such an amazing thing to hear a piece of music you have written be brought to life.

Age

23

What is your job?

My job is to write music. I use computers to help me arrange my ideas into new pieces of music. I make a manuscript of the music, which is all the notes and how they should be played. I put this into a computer to listen to the music back. Then when I’ve heard the music, I can make changes to it, and print it out for musicians to play.

Hands of a young woman, Grace, typing on a computer keyboard to write music

What inspired you ?

I have always loved making music. When I was four, I started playing the keyboard. I then started the trombone and clarinet when I was seven. I liked to improvise, which is to express myself by creating new rhythms and melodies that I hadn’t heard before. When I was 14, I started writing my own music as a hobby because I really enjoyed it. I didn’t realise it could become a career!

Best thing about your job?

When I won the BBC Young Composer of the Year competition. I was 18 and it was really exciting. It was the first time I heard my music being performed.

Top tips

Write the music that you enjoy to listen to. Have fun with it, test it and find out what works for you. Try to learn new things and to listen to different kinds of music.

Grace writes musical notes onto sheet paper

What to expect if you want to be a composer

  • Salary: Variable ranging from £23,000 to £40,000
  • Working hours: Variable, could include evenings and weekends
  • Entry requirements: Usually you'll need to have learnt at least one instrument at an early age, taken graded music exams including music theory and train at a university, or a music college

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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