Las Vegas, N.M — New Mexico Highlands University music professor Tatiana Grecic Dutoit presented a composer’s workshop at the 10th Annual Hawaii University International Conference on Arts and Humanities earlier this month.
Academics and professionals from more than 30 countries gathered for the arts and humanities conference.
“The focus of my workshop was on developing a comprehensive approach to musical composition,” Dutoit said. “I talked about balancing musical elements like harmony, melody and rhythm, refining timber and texture, motive development, unity versus variety, and more.”
Her interactive workshop also gave participants the chance to have their compositions critiqued and refined.
Dutoit said the conference provided an opportunity to promote Highlands University’s Music Composition Program, which she helped establish in 2008 when she joined the music faculty.
The Serbia-born Dutoit is an award-winning composer, pianist and vocalist. Over the past two decades, she has performed original music and various classical and pop repertoires in concerts in the United States, Serbia, and Bermuda.
Dutoit produced five CDs of her own music in various styles though Core-Age Records, an independent label she co-owned from 2004-2006.
Dutoit earned her doctorate in music philosophy, composition and theory from the University of Pittsburgh. She has taught at several U.S. colleges, including Chatham College and the University of Pittsburgh. Internationally, Dutoit taught at the Bermuda Conservatory of Music.
At Highlands, Dutoit teaches courses in music composition, music theory, and all levels of piano, among others.
She said composers need a well-rounded music foundation to develop their own personal style, which takes years.
“I love teaching music, especially composition and theory,” Dutoit said. “I want to give students the basic musical training to compose all the textures of a piece. We revised the music curriculum to prepare students for music composition, adding more notation and theory courses.
“We also added aural skills, which is reading a musical piece and forming a mental auditory image of what’s on the page as well as hearing a piece and notating it, vital training for composers. It’s also very important for composers to be good instrumental musicians,” Dutoit said.
She added that aspiring composers need to learn how to develop their own rhythmic patterns, and not be overly reliant on composing software.
“I’m also teaching my students to adapt to today’s times by learning popular musical genres along with classical musical knowledge,” Dutoit said.
Dutoit said the composition program needs more local instrumental musicians willing to volunteer their time playing the students’ original compositions. She gave the example of a student who composed a piece for a string quartet but was missing a cellist to play that instrument.
Interested musicians may contact Dutoit at email@example.com