Composer, former student on a virtual tour of the Lyon high jazz group – Longmont Times-Call


Composer and Lyon alumnus Andy Forsberg joined distance learning jazz group Lyons Middle Senior from Los Angeles on Thursday to talk about his work and inspire students to develop a learning mindset.

“My biggest problem when I moved (to Los Angeles) was that I didn’t ask questions,” he said. “I had so much impostor syndrome. I had so many people I could have asked for. … People like to talk about themselves, to help you with the knowledge they have acquired.

Lyons Middle Senior High group principal Karen Gregg said she asked Forsberg to visit the class after giving the 17 students jazz band composition homework in order to provide meaningful homework for students working from home. . She said she wasn’t a songwriter herself and wanted them to hear from a professional.

“I thought it would be really fun to get Andy to answer these questions that I couldn’t answer deeply enough,” she said.

On Thursday, Forsberg began by talking about his career path. He graduated from Lyon in 2010 and enrolled at Berklee College of Music. He started out working with other composers to hone his craft, then started a business with a friend to do sound design for video games.

He started out on his own as a freelance composer about four years ago and is now focusing on composition for television and film.

He shared his musical process, saying he tends to start with a rhythmic idea first as a percussionist and sometimes starts in the middle or end of a song and backs off. He encouraged the students to “really, really trust your ear” and stay on the simpler side.

“There’s never more than three or four things going on, even in these major compositions,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s too complicated. If something doesn’t work, I usually start removing stuff.

He showed the students some of the equipment he uses, but cautioned that the fundamentals of music matter most. He also spoke about working with producers and directors who do not have a musical background.

“I had this director a few weeks ago who hated oboes, but he didn’t know what an oboe was, so he was trying to describe the sound,” he said. “You never talk to a director or a producer in musical terms, ever. You try to speak with adjectives, to make it sadder, to make it darker. There are some weird people in Hollywood. It’s just about managing personalities and expectations.

He said he received great advice early in his career that as a newbie he should choose jobs that nourished his soul, advanced his career, or paid the rent. As he gained experience, he should aim for jobs that incorporated two or even all three.

“Just be a good person and write the music you love,” he added. “This is how you stand out.”

After talking to the students, he said he was “so impressed” with their questions.

“Among music surveys, they’ve asked such insightful questions about the business of the music industry, as well as how to maintain professional and personal relationships throughout your life,” he said. .

Lyon junior Beck Farrell, who plays bass trombone in a jazz band, said he is interested in the film industry and enjoys hearing how composition and film can be combined. Plus, he said, he enjoyed hearing advice on composition.

“I like to compose a lot, but I’m not very good at it,” he said. “(Forsberg) was able to give a good overview of his approach.”

Composing, he said, is useful because “it allows you to take a closer look at how a song is constructed. Playing jazz is cool to watch it in a compositional state of mind.

He added that while it’s been a tough year being a high school student, Gregg has provided an “amazing” community through his classes.

“I look forward to taking jazz lessons every day,” he said.

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Henry R. Wright