Mentoring Program

Snow Day - VSO Composition

This is a piece to be performed by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra brass quintet in December.
Grade Level: 9
Intended For: Live Instrument Performance
Software Used: Noteflight
Instrumentation: Trumpet I, Trumpet II, French Horn, Trombone, Tuba
Key: D Major, A Major
Meter Signature: 4/4
Tempo: 69, 144
Status: Work in Progress
Noteflight URL: Website Title


#12 Alex Wick 2017-11-08 19:34
Hi Matt,

Thanks for your feedback. I used all of your suggestions. I made the last part easier to play, so now it sounds slightly different, but I think it still works. Do you have any more suggestions before the deadline?


#11 Matt LaRocca 2017-11-07 16:07
Comment continued…

New intro:

Like I said, so much better. Nicely done! There are a few things to change up:

m. 3-4, Give that to Trumpet 2, and then with the two trumpet parts in m. 5 and 6 as well. It makes it a very cool call and response type thing this way, where both trumpets are utilized.

Consider holding off on adding the horn until m. 9 (the eighth notes in m. 7 don’t really do all that much), and rather than trumpet 1 having the melody in m. 9, give it to the horn. This way things get traded all around the group, and it gives the trumpet player a chance to breathe. Also in m. 9, the tuba could be down an octave if you want. Up to you.

m. 10, there’s no third in the chord (G or G#, depending on how you hear it…). Do you want to add it in? Try it out.

m. 11, change the A in the trombone to an E to balance out the chord better.

m. 25, those A’s in the trumpets are pretty low, so no need to double them. Take out the A in Trumpet 1.

trombone solo - nice use of the gliss! That’s great. The jump from the low A to the high F# in m. 34 is too big a jump and will turn out messy. You should take it out, and either bump the A up an octave, make beat 3 of 33 into a half note, or something along those lines.

m. 38-39, make the horn and trombone staccato as well to match the trumpet.

m. 53, move the last A up an octave in the tuba to make the line smoother

m. 55, I think you should have the tuba double the same line as everyone else. Make him work!

m. 56, change the beat 3 in Trumpet 2 to a half note to match everyone else.

m. 61, try it without the trumpets’ first eight note, and the horn ending on a quarter note (B). This will make the arrival more cohesive, and the silence afterwards more poignant.

m. 64, the strict transposition to the key of A makes that top line tough on the trumpet 1. It really pushes the edge of it’s range, and at the end of a piece it’s not the best idea. It’s very possible that it’ll be a bit messy as his chops will be tired by this time. Is it possible to change it slightly so he’s not reaching to the A? Maybe all E’s? I’m not sure, but this is a spot that gives me a little bit of worry.

m. 64, is the second not in the tuba supposed to be a B? It’s the only note not in an A major chord

And through this whole end, the same things sort of happens with the french horn. It’s very high for the french horn. Can it be put down an octave or something?

And finally, those octave jumps back and forth from E to E in the trombone could also be simplified. They’re pretty tricky. Is there something else that will work here?
#10 Alex Wick 2017-11-06 20:23
Hi Matt,

Thank you for your feedback. Along with your other helpful suggestions, I watched the videos you sent me and redid the intro--see how you like it. For meeting up, Wednesday works great for me. Does 6:00-6:30ish work for you?


#9 Matt LaRocca 2017-11-06 08:25
Hey Alex,

Since we're so close, I'm going to send comments in batches. Here are the first few thoughts, but I've got to go teach a class now so didn't get a chance to finish completely. I'll send more later this afternoon! In general, things are really looking good, so you're in great shape!


I’m still not totally sold on the introduction…ar e you?

-Can you add in rehearsal marks?

-Trombone - it can go down to an E, but it will sound a little better to have all the low E’s you have (11, 12, 16, 17 etc.) up an octave.

-m. 26, why did you switch it to trombone? I think the horn should get a little solo too.

-m. 30, I think we can try to add at least one little trombone gliss in here. If you change the last note to an E above middle C, it can glass right up to the F#, which while isn’t a long distance will be pretty fun.

-m. 53 and 54 move the trombone up an octave.
#8 Matt LaRocca 2017-11-05 20:02
Also, can you export an music.xml file for me and send it to my email when you get a chance? Thanks!
#7 Matt LaRocca 2017-11-05 19:42
Great! I'm excited to check it out. Yes, the piece is due Thursday. Can we do Wednesday evening? That's unfortunately the only day I can make work. What time is good for you?
#6 Alex Wick 2017-11-05 19:39
Hi Matt,

Thanks for your feedback! I liked all of your suggestions. I have done all of your suggestions except for the intro--I think we should meet up so I can work on that with your guidance. Ideally, Monday or Wednesday evening would work for me, Tuesday might work. Please let me know what times work for you. I believe the piece is due on Thursday, is that correct?

Thank you!

#5 Matt LaRocca 2017-11-02 20:54
Hi Alex,

Nice! I love what you’re doing. The changes in the middle and toward the end made a big difference. Good title too - Eleanor will love it.

I think the intro still needs a lot of help. What’s your goal with it? I think that if you can identify that, then you can know how to move it in the right direction. Is it a fanfare sort of intro? Or a slow one to contrast the main theme? In general there’s too little motion, so it lacks a ton of interest. You have to make the audience perk up and want to listen.

Check out a couple of videos of the Canadian Brass, and look at their intros. Both different - one focuses on a single player (which is a cool effect), another has a huge tempo jump (like you do).

and a good score video to watch (note how much room there is to breathe for all the players)

m. 18 Give the tuba a quarter note, then quarter rest pattern like you do in 22, and then maybe try it the same way again like that in 26 and 30 so it’s consistent under each solo. The little bit of space gives more attention to the solo instrument above it.

m. 26 I’m not sure I love the french horn solo. How do you feel about it?

m. 36 is much better now. Love it! Do you want the fermata in 38 on the rest? Or do you hear them holding out the final chord longer as well?

m. 47 and 48, I would remove the french horn since it mostly doubles the trumpet line. No need for it there.

m. 50 - maybe the french horn could harmonize with trumpet 2 by playing F#, E, F#. See if you like it.

m. 53 - I think this could be a great spot for a unison line with all the players. In a piece like this where there’s so much moving harmony all the time, a small moment where they come together is very, very powerful. If they all played the trumpet 1 line, it could be very cool.

m. 55-58 - This is the only other spot I’m not really sure of. It needs some work. It just seems out of place right now. Do you need these four bars? And if you do, should they relate more to the first break we heard in m. 34?

You can tighten up the transition into the key change as well.

LOVE the ending. It’s perfect. Bump the trombone up an octave, and you’re good to go with the whole thing after the key change.

I know I said a lot of things, but go through them and let me know what you think. It’s really rolling right now and sounding great. I can already try to picture it in my head at the church in Warren. It’s going to be great.

Let’s find one more time to get together as well. What works for you?

#4 Alex Wick 2017-11-01 19:17
Hi Matt,

Thanks for all of your feedback! I made the revisions as well as I could. I have titled the piece "Snow Day." I have also added dynamics. Any more feedback to help perfect the piece would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

-Alex W.
#3 Matt LaRocca 2017-10-26 13:25
Hi Alex,

Below are some really specific things. Don’t be overwhelmed! With special projects and tasks like this, we dig deeper and are more specific and nit-picky with everything. The more I listen to this, the more I like it. It’s going to be awesome.

Let me know if you have any questions,


m. 12, harmony in the Tuba on the last quarter - maybe give the A major chord third (C#) somewhere too.

m. 17, make a more interesting tuba line than just three notes. Octaves, or something F#,C#, F# going down is very tuba-esque

m. 23, Tuba is really wanting to resolve to a D (which is the root of the chord anyway, and missing right now).

m. 25, I like the addition of the horn here, but it’s pretty high. Can you put your score in the “transposing” view?

m. 29, the trombone glisses don’t work. They cross partials, which makes it impossible. Here’s a link to the glass options for trombone - they’re really specific. And the column on the right shows how far each glass can travel.

m. 31 - missing the root of the Chord again, so could change the A in the Tuba to a D.

35-36, need to change this a little bit. If you have the tuba on the on beats, and the horn and trombone on the off beats it will go a little smoother and feel more solid. Also, either harmonize this off beats, or create a line of some sort so there’s more direction to the chord before the fermata.

The trumpets here I think can build into the sixteenth notes, rather than just that strict rhythm from the get-go. It will give it more forward direction, and be much easier on the players.

m. 51, I wonder if this would be a cool moment to have everyone play in unison? Focusing on the main trumpet line and give that little lick to everyone? What do you think? Also, bump the trombone up an octave here, it’s too low.

m. 58, More of this! I think it’s a great idea you give up too quickly on. The sixteenth notes before it are a little too tricky and won’t be clean, but this is a great idea! It could make a perfect bridge to the key change if you develop it.

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