Music may be an enjoyment for many people, but for some, it’s a lifestyle. One such person is senior in music education Brock Willard.
He has recently taken his passion to new heights as he was accepted into the prestigious Atlantic Music Festival (AMF) Institute Composition Program. Willard said he can remember his journey from a lover of music to a true musician.
“I’ve been involved in music most of my life,” He said. “I sang in choir, played in band, took a few piano lessons from my grandmother, who I wish I would’ve listened to more often. Around my junior (year), I decided I wanted to major in music, and I’ve been growing as a musician over my time at Pitt State.”
The festival is a four week intensive in which he will be able to devote time towards his composing – a passion that developed during his time at Pitt State.
“I started seriously writing music during my junior year here,” Willard said. “Though I had done a lot of arranging music before that. Stuff for marching band, and small ensembles, but once I started working with Dr. (John) Ross, my teacher, it all became much more serious for me.”
One of the things Willard is most looking forward to is the opportunity to work with the various faculty of AMF. These include faculty from such prestigious schools as Yale and Juilliard.
Willard’s friends and colleagues echoed his passion for composing and excitement to continue in all facets of the craft.
“He definitely loves composing,” said Tim Klinker, junior in mechanical engineering technology and automotive technology. “One of his long term goals is to write a ‘Complete Guide to Composition’ in which he is able to teach from the basics all the way to experienced level how to compose music and why composers do things the way they do.”
Klinker is a close friend and a brother of Willard in Pitt State’s music fraternity. He has had experience listening to Willard’s pieces and will soon get the chance to perform a piece.
“He also loves experimenting with new techniques that he learns, such as different time signatures,” Klinker said. “And he loves getting to have students perform his work. I play horn for the brass quintet at PSU and Brock is about halfway through writing us a piece in which he uses some new techniques he’s learned.”
Others enjoy the unique perspective of Willard’s compositions.
“His music is very interesting to listen to as well as play,” said Colton Sprenkle, junior in music education. “It doesn’t quite go where you think it’s going to. In the piece of his that I have performed, he wrote it in five beats per measure, which generally gives the piece a lopsided feel. However, he used it in a calm dance-like way, which was really impressive to me.”
Following the program this summer, Willard already has his plans lined out after graduation.
“My future plans after I graduate will be to go on to a Masters in Music Composition at Missouri State University,” Willard said. “After that, I’d like to continue writing music. There are plenty of careers for composers past just writing music. I could go on to write music for film and video games, arrange for professional ensembles or publishing companies, engrave and prepare pieces of other composers for performance and, of course, teach. I love passing on knowledge of what I do to other people.”
Sprenkle added that Willard is going to “go far in music and in life.”
“[He] pays a lot of attention to detail, but is so grateful to have people performing his compositions,” Sprenkle said. “I think he’s on his way to being a very influential composer in the emerging 21st century music scene.”