Commission Season: I’m Looking for Collaborators!

As we move into the fall semester (or quarter, if you’re weird like that), I’m happy to announce I’m accepting commissions for Fall 2018 and Spring 2019. I’ve had a fantastic time working with individuals and groups this year, including the Spring View Middle School Jazz Band, Failsafe Duo, Willis Dotson, John Pisaro and Ian Stahl, and Oakwood Brass. That said, something I’ve come to realize is a lot of my friends, peers, and colleagues are interested in commissioning new works but don’t necessarily know how to approach the process. I can’t and won’t speak for all composers, but these are the most important things to know if you’re interested in working with me.

First, commission me if you like my work and what it stands for. My current specialties and areas of exploration include text pieces, story-focused pieces (with and without text), instrumental writing that is both contemporary and accessible to non-academic audiences, works about sexual assault, and experimental pieces (usually for brass, voice, or open score). I’m always looking for new collaborators, and I do my utmost to keep my rates reasonable. I want you to be able to afford to play my music.

Second, the easiest way to get the ball rolling is to come in with an idea of what you’re looking for. This, for some people, is the hardest—they want me to write them something, but they can’t always tell me what would be most useful or desirable for them based on their current performance goals. A few key things to consider: are you asking for a solo piece? A chamber work? Large ensemble? Do you want piano accompaniment or electronics (or nothing)? Are you looking for a two-minute piece or a twenty-minute piece or somewhere in between? Do you prefer a continuous piece or multi-movement? (No preference on that one is totally fine!) Is there a particular direction you’d like to take the work? When will you be performing it? What difficulty level are you looking for? Is there a hole in your repertoire you’re hoping to fill? Thinking about these questions and any others you have in advance will help us both tremendously—and if you know you’re unsure about something, we can start bouncing ideas back and forth from the get-go instead of emailing a dozen times trying to figure out what you want out of the piece.

Third, remember that I am a professional. As much as I’d like to just present people with music, I can’t afford to work for free. I’m always happy to talk rates with you and figure out what’s going to be best for both of us, but know that things like duration and number of instruments and deadline affect what I charge. If you needed a full concerto for soloist and orchestra tomorrow, well . . . it probably wouldn’t be feasible, but if I could do it, you’d be out a chunk of change. That said, I do try to make sure I’m working in a range that’s affordable for you! I’m also happy to trade services—I’ll work for less if you’re, say, going to put my work on a CD or premiere it internationally. I just can’t promise you a piece if it would cost me more to produce than I’d make off it within the first year (during which you’d spend a lot of time with exclusive performance rights, so no one else gets to buy it).

*If for any reason the price I give you is beyond your reach, I’m happy to talk with you about starting a commissioning consortium. Those allow for a lower buy-in and multiple premieres, so they can be as beneficial for me as they are for you. I also strive to keep my prices for educators as low as possible, so if you’re a middle school, high school, or college band director and you’re looking at commissioning, please come talk to me.*

Lastly, if you’d like to commission me but aren’t sure you can swing it now (for financial or scheduling or other logistical or personal reasons), shoot me a message anyway! I’d love to get to know you and your playing in advance of a collaboration, and if I ever produce anything new on my own time for your instrumentation, I’ll probably hit you up. Ultimately, I want to create music for you that melds my aesthetics with the best aspects of your performance. I look forward to working with you!


To get in touch with me, email me at megan.dejarnett@gmail.com.

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