Here is the first question that was asked after the lecture, Composition for Kids

When do you have your students begin to write down their compositions?thumbnail

Not too soon!  Just as we teach our children to form sentences before they can write them down, I believe we need to encourage our students to create music long before they can write it down.  Asking them to write even a small portion of their piece down can really frustrate young or beginning students. 

On the other hand, I think it is good form to let the student see you writing it down so that they can see that what they are composing looks like real music.  This process also allows you as the teacher to ask them some closed (vs. open) ended questions that are good in reinforcing theory and notation concepts.  For example, I might ask a student what kind of notes a certain section of their piece used if I knew that they were all quarter notes and could be clapped easily by the student.   Or to close the question even more, “Are these half or quarter notes?”

I also think it is good to allow even young students to edit their pieces once you have helped them write it down.  They come away with a new appreciation for details like dynamics, staccatos, slurs, etc.  when they have to add them to their own music.

If young students forget the music they have composed, I love the suggestion of Wynn Anne Rossi who discusses turning a piece of notebook paper on its side, drawing a line down the middle to represent the separation of the hands, then just writing the letter names of the notes they are using.  The vertical lines on the notebook paper will help them add relative rhythm to their piece.  It is easier for students to remember the rhythm of their piece rather than the notes of their piece.

I slowly but surely have the students write down their own compositions, but it’s important to remember that the most important thing is encouraging the composition.  Take notation a step at a time.  It is very student dependent!