Copy Cat

Updated: May 9, 2019

After working a year and a half or so at Portnoy's, I decided it was time to find a job closer to the music, so I found a job printing music at Associated Music Copying Service on West 54th St. Associated Music was very busy and attracted work from many top composers and arrangers. It was also my entry into the world of music copying which thrived before the advent of music notation software. While working as a printer I wrote a four movement Concertpiece for Piano, Horn and Clarinet for myself and two co-workers, and enrolled in a music copying class with one of the city's leading copyists. After that I quit the printing job and started working as a self employed music copyist copying scores and parts for concerts, recordings and publications.

While I was getting started as a copyist I reconsidered applying to Grad School, took the GRE exams and applied to Brooklyn College's Masters Degree program in piano hoping to study with Agustin Anievas. I prepared an audition which consisted of memorized works by Scarlatti, Beethoven, Liszt and Bartok which I tried out at a recital prior to my audition. I remember arriving early at Brooklyn College one bleak, cold day and waiting for my audition in the athletic field bleachers. After the audition I was accepted with the condition that I enroll in private lessons with one of their teachers prior to formally starting the program. After all the work I had put into the audition I was in no mood for conditions and felt that they should either just accept me, or not. With this unexpected twist, and not being sure where the money was going to come from to pay for grad school, I decided to pass and focus my efforts on building a practice as a music copyist which was going to be difficult because I am left handed. The difficulty lies in the fact that if you are left handed and write in ink from left to right you are going to smear what you just wrote. The solution for left handed copyists was to fill in the measures moving from the right side of the page to the left.

Write music backwards? Are you kidding? Doesn't anything ever get easier? So you might ask, “Then why do music copying?” There are three answers. The first is that I believed I could learn something from looking at all these music scores. The second is that it would make my own work look better. And third, because that’s how much I wanted a career in music.


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