Nathan Howe: Mormon Composer
Nathan Howe is a Colorado composer, educator, and performer. He began writing music when he was ten years old, often changing the songs he was supposed to learn in piano lessons. He began publishing music in 2006 and writes modern classical, pop, choral, hymns, and orchestral music. He teaches vocal and orchestral music in public schools and sings.
Nathan holds a Bachelor of Music Education Degree from the University of Northern Colorado and a Master Degree in Educational Leadership from Western Governors University. He has been commissioned to compose and arrange for church and community choirs, live stage shows, short films, and university ensembles. His music has also received awards of distinction and merit in the annual music submissions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Early Music Experience
In a January 2014 interview with Mormon Artist.net, Nathan commented, "Musically, I live a double life. On the one hand, I write serious choral music and art songs in a style that some would call modern classical. On the other hand, I write songs in more pop-inspired styles. The art music world tends to look down on pop styles, and pop consumers don’t generally care for the heavier art music, so I try to straddle the line as diplomatically as I can. I also dabble in orchestral music." He went on to say that he basically started composing music because he was a lazy sight-reader. As a piano student in elementary school, he found it easier, and preferred, to make up tunes for the songs that he was supposed to be learning than to figure out the notes on the page. By the time he reached middle school, he was writing and composing piano pieces as well as choral music. He continued working on his composing and arranging skills throughout high school, branching out into musical theater and other styles. He said, "Everything I wrote from elementary school through about my first year of college was pretty terrible, but I really needed all of that practice to figure out what I was doing."
The Importance of Music Education and Advice to Young Musicians
Speaking about music education, Nathan stated, "Music education is important because music is important as a discrete subject. Arts are the way culture is spread and preserved. Our kids are the next generation of creators. Art is like any other language: the more we master the vocabulary, the more we understand about our world. The arts help kids learn how to think—even kids who will not become professional musicians or artists.” He believes that helping kids understand the messages that images and sounds communicate is more important today than it ever has been. He further believes that the arts often reach large groups of students and have more of an impact than some sports programs. His advice to young musicians – those who aspire to achieve a career in music is three-fold: (1) Learn to be patient with yourself. Get comfortable with consistent practice and small, steady progress. (2) Get some lessons. Find a teacher whose approach works well with your learning style. Pick an instrument you love and master it as well as you can. (3) Find a mentor. Look for somebody in your community who is successful in the type of music you love. Nathan also says, "I feel that God expects me to use my gifts to bless other people. Music is one area where different styles and approaches can touch people in different ways."
Nathan Howe served a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Australia Sydney South Mission from 2001–2003. He currently lives in Fort Morgan, Colorado, where he directs choir and orchestra in the local schools. He and his wife Allison have three children.
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