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Jared Kraft

Jared’s parents encouraged their children to follow God’s calling into whatever field He led them. From an early age, it was clear Jared’s calling was music. After graduating high school, he studied to become a composer, arranger, producer, and orchestrator. Driven by a passion to engage culture through music, he now works out of a home studio to write scores for film and other media. He is also a classical pianist and piano teacher. Check out his work and purchase his new album, The Fused, on his website.

What did homeschooling look like for you growing up?

Unorthodox, crazy and wonderful! I chuckle as I look over those adjectives, but that really is the best set of words to describe what schooling at home was like in my family. My mother (my daily instructor) believes that life itself is a classroom brimming with things to learn and integrate both spiritually and mentally. My siblings and I would often take breaks during our studies to hike around the yard with notebooks and observe different plants and insects. I also remember reading in excess of two hours almost every day of the week! Loving literature was probably the origin of my love for film and music…the written word really is a beautiful thing.

Naturally, there were moments of tear-stained textbooks and crumpled worksheets, but I praise God for the joyous and mind-opening experience I had schooling at home.

When did you first become involved in music? At what point did you decide to pursue it as a vocation?

For as long as I can remember, music has been a huge part of my life. As a young child I collected classical music, show-tunes, and movie scores on cassette tapes (and then CDs). Although I didn’t know the methods of music construction, or how the notes all fit together, I knew that this wondrous phenomenon did something amazing to me, deep inside. My childhood obsession turned into piano lessons at age nine, which resulted in an increased awareness of how music was constructed.

When I was fourteen, my family suffered the loss of our precious sister/daughter Anna (she was six years old and was born with a fragile heart). Although my family had been through loss when my infant brothers Samuel and Josiah died, losing Anna was something new for all of us. The memories of six years with her created a huge void in the hearts of my family…and me. We were forced to lean on Jesus Christ’s strength day in and day out. During this time of heartache music first began to stir inside of me and manifest itself in songs. As the music came more and more frequently, the Lord made it apparent that composing was my calling and would be my vocation.

After high school, how did you gain further education and training in your field? What pros and cons do you see in going a non-traditional college degree route for higher education?

Post high school, I continued my music studies through a variety of avenues. The first, and most important, was gaining knowledge by experience! The year following my graduation was the most concentrated portion of my film-specific composing work, and I remember that time as a crash course in many areas of study.

Formally, I continued my music education with Berklee College of Music’s online certificate program. My online studies concentrated on orchestration (both traditional and midi), music technology, syncing music to film, and tuning my personal sense of dramatic narrative to better match the movement of a story with music.

For me, the non-traditional college route seemed par-for-the-course. Music composition, like many other creative arts, is a focus study that thrives in an isolated environment. My parents have always been extremely supportive of following God’s specific leading for a specific purpose, and mine has always been music! There are always cons to going against the grain (such as the lack of a formal degree and the difficulty of forging a new path through a society of traditions and statistics), but when God leads, no man can dissuade.

Where do you find inspiration for your creative projects?

I like to immerse myself in projects, whatever they may be, and let the music take on inspiration of its own. Sometimes I’ll tap into personal memories and experiences when I’m composing; other times I’ll become inspired by outside sources (such as films, books, and other pieces of music). When my creativity hits a low, a French Press full of coffee and some time in prayer often does the trick.

What potential do you think music has to impact the culture? What role can Christians take to help realize this potential?

Music certainly has an incredible impact on culture. From music videos to sold-out concerts to local music scenes and orchestras, music seems to have a foothold just about anywhere we look. As Christian musicians (and listeners) I believe it is our responsibility to produce and appreciate this art in the name of Jesus Christ. Although not all types of music are purely evangelical (or even completely worshipful) that doesn’t mean that the Christian individual can’t glorify God through them. Music is largely an avenue to entertain and inspire the heart and soul. If Christians can engage culture on this level and then take it a step deeper with a testimony of Christ’s hope, love, and forgiveness…imagine the impact!

What advice do you have for young music students who have an interest in composing – either film music or otherwise? Any specific tips for breaking out of familiar ruts when composing or working on creative projects in general?

Fall in love with music. I know that sounds general and syrupy…but it’s so necessary. Compose in your head while you’re eating breakfast, exercising, even while you’re mowing the lawn! Technically, I think it’s a great idea to notate as many musical ideas as possible. Early notations don’t have to be complex or extraordinary, they just have to reflect the song that’s already in your head. A single line across a treble clef is a huge step in transitioning from student musician to accomplished composer.

Ruts? There have been many times in the course of composing projects where I feel absolutely spent, anti-creative, and useless. I’d like to say that there’s a trick or a shortcut to breaking out of this block, but there really isn’t. I remember one particular piece that I labored on for eight hours straight before deciding to scrap the entire thing! I went to bed exhausted and angry, woke up at three o’ clock in the morning, and proceeded to rewrite the entire piece before sunrise. The results were a hundred times better! My advice? Keep working through your creative blocks, but don’t become happy with any resulting mediocrity…wait on true inspiration.

How do you think homeschooling contributed to your life and work now as an adult?

Homeschooling has contributed to my life in ways too numerous to mention! Sitting under the instruction of my parents afforded me not only an education born of love and care, but a deep appreciation for the truth of God’s Word. In conjunction, music is a specialized study that requires a lot of time and commitment, and the homeschool environment (a.k.a. learning at home) offered ample time for it! My mother has always said that if she can teach her children how to learn, she will have accomplished her chief goal as an educator. In turn, it has become my hope to learn and absorb everything I can as I continue to walk through life.

Special thanks to author/blogger Natalie Wickham for conducting this interview with Jared. View other interviews with Christian young people at www.pajamaschool.com.

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