Intelligent musings and advice from composer Swados directed toward young aspirants to the composing trade. Swados, though only in her 30s, already boasts a remarkable output in various musical genres, including operas, rock operas, musical theater, oratorios, and TV and film scores. ""Composing,"" Swados says, ""is both a worker's craft and a holy expression. . .a composer is childlike in her dependence on nonverbal impulses that will make her seem immature, possessive, and moody. However, she must also be pragmatic, orderly, and objective."" To assist in gaining these qualities, Swados provides chapters on: ""Finding Your Henry"" (referring to her own mentor at Bennington, Henry Brant), which offers sound advice on choosing the right mentor and on knowing just what amount of distance to keep; ""The Fundamentals,"" which is more about the intangibles of loudness and softness and communication with musicians than about instrumentation; ""Basic Training,"" thoughts on selecting the right schools; ""The Forms"" (""'Hey, let's write a break-dancing musical!' is not a good starting point. ... what is the passion behind such an enterprise? What's the story? The reason for its existence?""); and ""Surviving Until. . .,"" which is about staying close to music when choosing survival jobs and not getting caught in the martyrdom complex of starving until someone discovers the fledgling composer's genius. Swados demonstrates a top-notch writing talent to complement her skills as a composer. The result is a book that should be passed out to every music student or hopeful composer.