In addition to teaching at the Frederic Chopin Music School, Ray Guirguess is an active composer. Ray believes that all music school students should be involved in composition for the skill building and spiritual opportunities that the craft offers. We had a chat to better understand the craft of composition and revenue development possibilities.
Interviewer: Why do you enjoy composing so much?
Ray: I enjoy the idea that I can leave behind a creation, a legacy. It’s a pure way of communication. Words are a passing language. If you treat it with the respect that the craft deserves, it provides a true reflection that is very personal. I actually think it’s better than journaling because it’s tactile and scientific as well. You have to work out timings and
Interviewer: Why do you think people should compose?
Ray: There are no restrictions to writing and enjoying music – it’s a spiritual gift. It’s an opportunity to experiment with different sound combinations and techniques and essentially taking what you have learned in music class, and splicing it in to your own unique creation.
Interviewer: You are a commissioned composer at this point. What are challenges that commissioned composers face?
Ray: I am currently working on a student filmmaker’s score. The film is about the general complacency of consumer minds and an ignorance of what is going outside of the selfish experience. It’s an experimental documentary. It is challenging to meet the needs of the director – Needs that are sometimes continually changing. Meaning, your work needs to be constantly evolving, which can get frustrating. I like to keep in mind that much like myself, a filmmaker is another creator who’s vision evolves as the project takes on a its own life. You have to remain fluid and dynamic if you intend on earning a living as a composer.
Interviewer: Is it difficult to get commissioned projects?
Ray: It is difficult because it’s a very competitive industry. Anyone can create a film score electronically with minimal knowledge of digital software. Composing is very accessible to the average Joe. You no longer have to be a highly skilled music professional in order to develop a score. In a way, the market place is oversaturated with “composers” but not all are skilled.
Interviewer: How do you ensure that you stand out?
Ray: In order to remain competitive in the industry, it is critical to constantly evolve as a musician and perform at a very high level. However, a musical backing and education differentiates you incredibly because you are able to add finesse to the music – For example, quickly develop harmonies using the science of music. The quality of what an educated and experienced professional produces speaks for itself. Having a background in music adds colour to the music you produce. It also helps with general business management. For example, schooling has helped me to produce music on deadlines. I had to learn how to expedite the creative process. People are not willing to wait until inspiration hits you. Constantly having to deliver compositions, essays and performances on deadline at York really helped me in that area.
Interviewer: What’s the best way to get work in composition?
Ray: I find that it’s important to consistently develop new music in order to constantly build the skillset. You have to consistently work on the craft and gain more exposure. I also find that networking is very important. Actually, composition has helped me socially because I tend to be shy. It forces me to approach people. I appreciate all forms of craftsmanship – poetry, sculpture, and writing. I enjoy collaborating with other creative types and I need to approach them in order to make that happen. Creating and networking happen organically in a way. I have noticed that if I am performing well in my musical career, then I am doing well in all areas of life – social included.
Interviewer: What advice would you give to aspiring composers? Or students of the Frederic Chopin Music School who may want to try composing?
Ray: I would urge everyone to try composition – even if no audience experiences your creation. It is very therapeutic to translate feelings in to your own music.
If you would like to learn more about Ray Guirguess and the Frederic Chopin Music School, please contact us.
Call 905 279 7761 or send us a note!