I became serious about writing and arranging music through training in the military music program at the Armed Forces School of Music in Virginia Beach. I wrote a couple of things in 1976, but it wasn't until 1977 and finishing the Intermedia Course at the SOM that my music was audience presentable. I joined BMI in 1984 when several of my works were being performed regularly. It is a great resource and service for composers. And, it is free.