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Elevate Your Music and Expand Your Reach

A brand new 6-month composition and professional development program
Starting January 13th, 2021

[10 Spots Only]

For music-makers ready to pursue new directions in their creative and career-building practice.



You’re composing music that you’re excited about, but you’re not sure how to move forward in your professional life. You long for more performances, commissions, and opportunities for connection and collaboration with performers and ensembles.

Or maybe getting the music from your head onto the page feels like a struggle, but you’re not sure how to fix it.

You’re doing the things a composer is “supposed” to do: Applying to calls for scores, for grant opportunities, reaching out to ensembles, and networking as much as possible. But most of the time these efforts feel scattered and haphazard—like hoping to win the lottery!

Maybe you came to music creation through a route other than school, and wonder how to learn more.

Perhaps you put composing on hold for years—life happens, after all—and want to jump start those skills.

Or maybe you are a performing musician jonesing to make original work. How to even begin?

I hear you. Experiencing uncertainty, lack of direction, and “imposter syndrome” is totally normal.

Creating opportunities for your work to be heard, and developing new projects when you’ve received little or no guidance about how to actually do that can feel totally overwhelming.

And now, we are trying to do these things during a pandemic!


“I thought composing was for prodigies, not that it was something you could just sit down and do.
Alex’s advice really helped me—not just with writing music, but getting past my own mental blocks.”
— Julia


I believe that we are living in an incredibly unique slice of time and space, one that marks a transformation in what it means to make art and to exist in the world as creative beings. Old, outdated structures are crumbling, and we all have unique opportunities to reinvent ourselves, what we are making, how we are making it, and the ways we share it with the outside world.


There is no magical time when you suddenly become a “professional.”

You start now.


Imagine this:

  • Musicians ask to perform your work, and want to commission new pieces.
  • Feeling part of a community that values you and your work.
  • Communicating in a way that feels natural, professional, and that creates engagement.
  • Waking up excited to work on new projects that you know will come to fruition.
  • Knowing that you’re making an important contribution to people around you and to the world.
  • Having more control over how much money you earn.
  • New levels of confidence in your composing and in yourself.


If you’re thinking YES PLEASE! SCALE UP could be the right program for you.

Book a Call Today!


Composer Alexandra Gardner

Composer Alexandra Gardner. Photo by Rob McIver.

Hi! I’m Alex, a composer, coach, and consultant. I help music creators develop and refine their unique artistic voices and navigate the professional world of the creative arts with joy and assurance.

As a composer, my career path has been unusual, winding, and adventurous. I came to composition during my freshman year in college through an electronic music class. The realization that I could make my own sounds from scratch and combine them into anything I wanted was a strike of lightning. I also studied percussion and took a gap year to work in a recording studio in New York City. Fortunately, I had amazing, supportive composition teachers and mentors, two of whom were women. I don’t think I would be a composer today if there hadn’t been inspiring female role models present in my life.

After college, I spent three years working assorted jobs and composing electronic music for modern dance. I loved collaborating with choreographers, but I wanted to write more for orchestral instruments so I attended graduate school. It was a tremendous change from my previous educational experience. Although my peers were amazing and I remain friends with many of them to this day, the environment was not particularly supportive, nor were my composition teachers especially helpful. One suggested that I quit trying to write instrumental music entirely—that it would be a “really hard road“ for me. At the time, I felt devastated and spent several years afterward making work that was fueled by spite. Effective, but not the healthiest dynamic!

After receiving a Master’s degree, I found out quickly that I knew almost nothing about the business and administrative aspects of being a freelance artist. All of that learning happened on the job after grad school. That was a hard road.

What followed were years of:

  • Experimentation
  • Missteps and failures
  • Releasing ways of thinking and of being that did not align with the creative person I wished to be in the world
  • Building resilience (So. Much. Resilience.)
  • Joyful surprises
  • A mountain of support and inspiration from friends, colleagues, and mentors.

[*Fast forward*]

I have been working as a freelance composer for over 25 years. I have composed commissioned works for a major symphony orchestra, for symphonic band, for professional chamber ensembles and solo performers as well as for dance and film. I am self-published. My pieces are performed across the U.S. and internationally. My work is recorded on multiple albums. I have residencies with colleges, universities, and music festivals. I have an incredible community of musicians who I love working with. Most wonderful of all is that performers and audiences value my music and I am making music that I believe in and am proud of.

Today I see composers struggling with the same things I did years ago.

  • How do I get my music performed?
  • How do I even start this piece?
  • How do I self-publish?
  • How do royalties work?
  • Would someone look at this music and help me figure out how to make it better?
  • How do I connect with more musicians?
  • How do I make a contract?
  • How do I deal with this rehearsal of my piece?
  • At what point do I make money from all this work?

These aren’t things you learn about in school. That’s okay! It’s never too late to fill in the gaps.

I have lived those missing pieces. Let me use my experience to help you, so you can be on your way.

Introducing SCALE UP!

Throw open the gates to your new musical future!

Starting in January, I’m taking a handful of highly motivated, adventurous composers under my wing who are ready to take their music and their professional lives to the next level.

You’ll have my full support and guidance over 6 months in a program focusing on composition and professional development.

You will create a brand new work of up to 7 minutes for the award-winning SOLI Chamber Ensemble that will be performed and professionally recorded. The instrumentation is clarinet, violin, cello, and piano (or a subset of your choosing). You will also receive mentoring and collaborative support from the SOLI musicians throughout the course.

We’ll cover composition-related topics including instrumentation, form and structure, orchestration, and fun ways to create new musical material. I’ll also show you best practices for communications of all sorts, systems and methods to help you organize the administrative side of a creative practice, how to effectively present your work online, and how to create and expand a supportive artistic community.

Visiting guests working inside orchestras, chamber ensembles, music libraries, publicity, and more will present master classes to give “backstage tours” of the classical music industry.

This is a safe, friendly, productive space for a small cohort of composers to be their true creative selves, learn new things, and be part of a supportive and exciting artistic community.

Sound interesting?



Meet the SOLI CHamber Ensemble

The SOLI Chamber Ensemble

SOLI Chamber Ensemble has been giving voice to 20th- and 21st-century contemporary chamber music since 1994, mesmerizing audiences for nearly three decades with their engaging performances, ensuring the future of new music through educational initiatives, and continually renewing their commitment to the music of living composers through performances and commissions. Winner of the 2013 Chamber Music America and ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award and a 2020 Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Grant, SOLI continues to champion new works, new contexts, and new audiences for the music of our time.

Individually and collectively, these musicians bring a wealth of skill, passion, and intuitive musicality to their performances, drawing on a deep well of shared experience. As the name of the group suggests, each is a singular musician in their own right, but their synergy – honed and still evolving over the years – provides the intuition, aesthetic vision, and expansive range required to internalize, interpret, and make sense of the diverse musical language of the 21st Century.

SOLI is Stephanie Key, clarinet; Ertan Torgul, violin; David Mollenauer, cello; and Carolyn True, piano.


If this is you, you should apply for SCALE UP!

  • 21-101 years old.
  • NOT currently enrolled in a college or university. (Gap year students okay!)
  • A composer looking for focused support in creating new work and jump-starting their professional interests.
  • A music student taking a gap year who wants to keep building a body of work.
  • A composer seeking an alternative to a degree program.
  • A performer interested in exploring music creation.
  • A musician returning to composing after years away.
  • A composer who has not formally studied composition before.

“I discovered that there can be so much more to music than just the notation. I ultimately worked to create a piece that didn’t revolve around the notation, but rather around the performers themselves. I’m super happy with how the performers took the music and ran with it!”
Ben H.

Apply to SCALE UP!

The application process is easy! To apply:
  1. Send 2 compositions or other examples of your musical work (in the case of performers who have not composed).
    Each submission should include a score & recording (live recording preferred, MIDI acceptable) to [email protected].
    Links and/or files sent via GDrive/Dropbox/SoundCloud/etc. are acceptable.
  2. Schedule a free 30-minute call with me.

Please submit your materials at least 24 hours BEFORE your scheduled call. This not a formal interview! This is a chance to get to know one another in an informal setting, like getting together for a cup of coffee.

If I think you and this group experience are made for one another, I’ll let you know. If it doesn’t seem like the right fit? I’ll let you know that too. Either way, you’ll be at least one step closer to a better reality.

Book a Call Today!


Course Details

DATES: January 13 – June 16, 2021

Alexandra Gardner, composer

  • Weekly Training Sessions (One 2-hour meeting each week)
  • Group Composition Lessons
  • Instrument Demonstrations
  • Guest Expert Master Classes
  • Personalized feedback from musicians at mid- and end-stages of score production
  • 2 private 1:1 sessions with me (composition lessons and/or coaching)
  • Private Facebook group

Premium includes:

  • 3 extra private 1:1 sessions with me
  • Email and text support
  • You will be paired with a special mentor of my choice (based on your goals) for two 1:1 60-minute calls.

In addition to composing a new piece, there will be small amounts of homework in the form of listening assignments, exercises to prompt creativity, and writing assignments.

All participants will receive a professionally recorded performance video of their composition, which may be used for non-commercial purposes.


SCALE UP! Standard

(payment plan available)

  • Weekly Training Sessions (One 2-hour meeting each week)
  • Group Composition Lessons
  • Instrument Demonstrations
  • Guest Expert Master Classes
  • Personalized feedback from musicians at mid- and end-stages of score production
  • 2 private 1:1 sessions with me (composition lessons and/or coaching)
  • Private Facebook group
  • Professional recording of your finished work

SCALE UP! Premium

(payment plan available)

  • Weekly Training Sessions (One 2-hour meeting each week)
  • Group Composition Lessons
  • Instrument Demonstrations
  • Guest Expert Master Classes
  • Personalized feedback from musicians at mid- and end-stages of score production
  • 2 private 1:1 sessions with me (composition lessons and/or coaching)
  • Private Facebook group
  • Professional recording of your finished work
  • 2 extra private 1:1 sessions with me
  • Email and text support
  • You will be paired with a special mentor of my choice (based on your goals) for two 1:1 60-minute calls.



Still have questions?

I understand! Maybe these thoughts have crossed your mind.

Why group composition lessons?
Group lessons are a fabulous way to accelerate the learning process. Sharing work-in-progress with the group helps address questions that others might also have, sparks new ideas, and creates a positive and collaborative learning environment. You also get one-on-one time with me as well so there is plenty of personal support throughout the program.

My sample recordings aren’t very good. Should I still apply?
Definitely yes! Lots of good pieces receive not so good performances. Send it anyway, with the score. Live audio or video is always preferable to MIDI.

I don’t… have any recordings of my music?
That’s okay. Send me a score and tell me about any experiences you’ve had working with musicians.

What if I’ve never studied music theory?
That’s okay! You are welcome in SCALE UP! regardless of your formal study experience.

I’m a professional musician but I’ve never composed before. Should I apply?
Yes! You have all the skills to start composing right now. Schedule a call and we’ll talk about it.

Are there payment plans available?
Yes. Please contact me directly to discuss this.

Will this really help my career?
Yes! When you are empowered to take your musical life into your own hands, rather than waiting for permission from the outside world, new opportunities and ideas will open up for you.

What’s the daily time commitment?
I can’t decide this for you, but whatever you would expect from yourself if you were to commit 100% to completing a substantial project. This is not a casual commitment, so at least a few hours every week.


Ready to elevate your music and expand your reach? Let’s do this!