top of page

Preparing for the GEMS Summer Program

Hello my lovely readers & fellow composers! This week, I will be giving you some tips and tricks for getting yourself ready for the GEMS program, after you’re registered

This year is a bit different! We have added two new amazing programs and amplified one. Scoring for Video Game with BAFTA winner Garry Schyman, Orchestration with the world class Pete Anthony. and a move up to a massive 50 piece orchestral recording, for that all important big score sound!

What You Will Need

You will need to bring with you the following:

  1. A laptop with DAW software such as; Cubase/Logic/Protools installed onto it, ideally, knowing how to use it, but don’t worry if you are new to DAWs, our faculty are available to provide support and help you prepare yourself, prior to attending the program.

  2. A music notation program such as Sibelius, Finale, Musescore etc. that you are comfortable using.

  3. An external hard drive with ample space.

  4. A selection of your compositions, songs, tracks, music in audio form (.mp3/.wav) burnt on to a CD for Christopher Young to listen to - before you ask, yes it does need to be on a CD. The guy’s the best version of old school you could ask for.

  5. A short letter of introduction about yourself and your musical journey or highlights to date, a CV (resume) and photo for Christopher Young.

  6. Your lovely, motivated self! Can’t forget that!!

Getting Around in Madrid

Once you get to the Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport (MAD), firstly: Prepare for the heat! You will be coming in July, and I can assure you - it’s going to be hot. Or as the Spanish would say, que calor! (Hope I used that right…) Temperatures usually are around 30-35°C - no joke.

Inside the airport is the metro link to Madrid city center. When you walk outside the airport, you’ll find a direct bus which goes straight from the airport to Madrid city centre - which is where the Summer Program will be. This costs 5 euros and takes around 20-25 minutes. Alternatively, you can pay less and catch 2 buses, but I would personally suggest this as it’s not too costly and pretty quick and efficient.

Single tickets on the metro start from 1,50€. A 10 ticket pass from 11,20€. You can buy them at the station. The ticket machines are in English, and take credit cards and cash.

Most hotels offer free or low-cost Airport Transfer, Pick Up and Drop off from 15€

Public Transport

There’s quite an array to choose from in Madrid, starting off with walking of course. Most hotels/hostels are not farther than 20 minutes from the centre of Madrid (even the cheaper ones).

Electric Scooter and Bicycle Sharing is also quite a thing in Madrid. There’s plenty of electric bicycles all around the city, most of which just need an app to rent. I personally never tried them, but around the city it seems to be quite a bike-friendly area (especially in pedestrian zones).

You’ve of course also got the usual taxis, buses and trams which go all around the city, and are just a few euros per trip.


All right so obviously, this is very subjective. But just so you get an idea; I had personally stayed at a hostel, not a hotel. However I don’t really recommend this, especially if you need dead silence when you compose and like your own space. It was very hard to deal with the ever-changing roommates when I was there. But then again, if you’re tight for cash, it might be a good option, cause it was around a fourth of the price of a hotel.

Other than that of course, there’s always where you can find both single bedrooms and whole apartments to rent to yourself.

And is great for deals, Or you know, you can just go for a good hotel around the area. You can find anywhere between 40 EUR - 90 EUR a night on average (if you book early).

Now if you pick a place that’s pretty far to walk, just keep in mind that the heat will be an issue - especially if you come from the UK or any other cold European country. I am from Malta, which gets pretty damn hot too (usually up to 30 degrees in summer), and I was still really amazed at the sheer heat in Madrid. Of course we’ll have air conditioning inside, and on the buses and metros, but the streets part is the hot part.

The Composing Part for Christopher Young - What to Prepare

Okay, so maybe some of you are panicking like ‘how am I going to compose an orchestral score in just a few days?! I can’t do this!’ Firstly, chiiiilll. You can, and you will. Secondly, here are some tips to make this process slightly easier:

At the start of the program, you’ll be given several different main titles or cues from Christopher Young, main titles or cues from movies that he has composed for in the past. You will be tasked with composing your own music for that same main titles or cue and you’ll need to bring a mock-up to class on the last day of his class, where he will play to picture and critique them all.

I’d suggest the following:

Each main titles or cue is a different genre, so start thinking of what genre you’d like to compose (remember you will be recording this) and try to come up with a motive or a few motives to get you going. Or even just a melody which you can develop in Madrid. Or maybe a chord progression, whatever works for you.

Manage your time well. I’m sure I don’t have to say this to most of you who will be coming to the program. But this is essential, considering the real time deadlines we’ve adopted.

Do not panic too much. If you are having trouble, just ask Chris, Juanjo, Francesco, Nigel, me or anyone at the program, we are all here to help! Remember, this program is supposed to help you grow, not freak you out or scare the crap outta you.

Of course, take my suggestions with a pinch of salt and just do what feels right for you. Everyone’s process for composing is different, I’m just trying to show you what to expect so that all of you can be better prepared and in turn, be happy with your final results.

I can’t wait to meet all of you there and hear your compositions!


Writen by the one and only Maria Borg

Join the program

Check out music, videos, interviews, sponsors, highlights

Also, follow us on social media:

Tag it

54 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Summer Program SPAIN
July 2024
bottom of page