Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/Expert Profile

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I can answer questions from students of "classical" composing, arranging, notation problems and music theory, writing for instruments and voice and writing music for education. I can answer questions about orchestration but I do not cover questions about pop or rock music, pop song writing or electronic music.

I taught for many years in UK up to "A" level theory and composition. I have spent many years in music education, initially (like everyone else) as a teacher. Then I moved on to advisory work (teaching teachers!) and also lectured, giving many workshops for teachers in developing music education skills and techniques. For a time I worked as a teacher-lecturer at London University's Institute of Education and eventually worked full-time as a Music Education Adviser to schools in part of London, offering advice on music education and curriculum development.


International Society for Music Education; Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.


"The Times" Educational Supplement; "Hi-Fi News and Record Review". For several years, I used to write for many of the state music education periodicals in the US and I also wrote several influential articles on instrumental music teaching for "Music Teacher" magazine in the UK. (UK).


PhD(Hons); MA(Hons); FLCM (compositon) ARCM, LMusTCL,(music diplomas)

What do you like about this subject?

I have always been fascinated with the arts, especially music. I used to think of music as a kind of language but have since ditched that view. The concept is not especially helpful, for music can so often transcend language completely. Music often takes over where language fails.

What do you still hope to achieve/learn in this field?

I believe totally in the concept of life-long learning. It may be true that you can't teach an old dog new tricks but that adage should not apply to human beings with a normal working mind. In fact, we have to keep learning just to keep up with everyday technologies.

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Recent Answers from Dr Colin

2017-03-10 voice leading:

Dear Hank,    Thanks for getting back in touch. I assume you are referring to the chord progression C major, D7, G major. Yes, it is a pleasing sound. As you have discovered, writing this progression in

2017-01-20 theory:

Hi Hank,    Well, your progression Db-Cb-Gb-Db is indeed in the myxolydian mode. I didn't mention this before because I was not aware that you are familiar with modes. Few people are. As you know, we can

2017-01-20 theory:

Hi Hank,    I presume the chords are all major. Although you'd almost certainly not find is in 18th century music the progression is very common in the 20th century especially in popular music. It would

2016-11-11 chords:

Hello Hank,    The system of Roman numerals to describe chords is really for the study of relatively simple music. It was not intended for complex harmonies. But yes, you could use it in the Bach. In the

2016-11-10 chords:

Hello Hank!    It's nice to hear from you again. BWV 846 - yes, that's the well-known prelude and fugue; the prelude from which Charles Gounod borrowed for his Ave Maria. You don't mention the bar numbers


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