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  • Holly Mead

Sabbatical Syllabus

For those of you who expressed interest in the nuts and bolts of my learning journey, I've provided a general outline for the current vision below. And if you are a joyfully curious composer/friend/nerd and would like to work through any of these books with me, yay (!), and let's do it!


  • Book work with plenty of old school note-taking, summarizing, and studying. Current reading list: Composing Music by William Russo, Hearing and Writing Music by Ron Gorow, Elementary Training for Musicians by Paul Hindemith, The Study of Orchestration by Samuel Adler, Analyzing Classical Form by William Caplin, Voice Leading by David Huron, The Fundamentals of Musical Composition by Arnold Schoenberg, Twentieth-Century Harmony: Creative Aspects and Practice by Vincent Persichetti, A Geometry of Music: Harmony and Counterpoint in the Extended Common Practice by Dmitri Tymoczko, Creative Orchestration: A Project Method For Classes In Orchestration And Instrumentation by George Frederick McKay.

  • Score reading at the piano: on-the-spot piano reductions of various scores, clef and transposition drills

  • Score study with active listening, harmonic analysis, etc. Ideally, this will be an eclectic mix of classics (i.e. old guard symphonic music via IMSLP) and contemporary works for film and games by women/BIPOC folks/peers.

  • Daily composing/creating and/or recording!


Here are some of the projects that I am excited to tackle during sabbatical:

  1. an original soundtrack for Kaneko’s Owl in collaboration with Radix Troupe Productions

  2. another self-produced solo piano album and/or piano with chamber ensemble of original music

  3. a sleep-inducing/ambient soundscape album

  4. a capstone orchestration project that will be a collection of compositions inspired by the sounds and songs of birds that inhabit the Bay Area. I’m already envisioning live performances of the orchestrations paired with a storytelling/conservation/bio talk in 2022 - maybe even outdoors in one of our regional parks where the birds can chime in! A big thank you to Victoria Schlesinger and Susan Scandrett at Bay Nature Magazine for commissioning me to transcribe the song of the Hermit Thrush for their spring issue - a delightful and inspiring collaboration!


Anything/everything else is icing on the learning-cake, e.g. wrapping up any/all music-related Udemy courses, binge-listening to podcasts about composers/orchestration, etc. Cheers, all! I’m excited!