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Composing Is Not A Four Letter Word

My thought process when I'm reviewing our state music standards usually goes something like this:

Performing: I can perform a variety of music with fluency and expression. Check.

Responding: i can respond to musical ideas as a performer and listener. Check.

Connecting: I can connect musical ideas and works to personal experience, careers, culture, history, and other disciplines. Check.

Creating: I can use the elements of music to communicate new musical ideas. I.E, arranging and composing music……*crickets**

Literally everything else on the list I think “yes, my kids got this! They own this!” As for composing...I’ve always drawn a blank.


One of my professors (who is also coincidentally a composer), showed our class a couple of composition projects that different orchestra groups have done.


It. Blew. My. Mind!


Kids are capable of composing amazing things! One project that was really made the proverbial light bulb go off for me involved using a children’s book.


So here I go, jumping off a cliff again…

Twas The Night Before Christmas

On Friday, I introduced this idea to the kids by showing them this video. Finding this required maybe a 30 second YouTube search. I particularly liked this as an introduction to the project because it has narration, pictures, and accompanying music.


After watching the video, I told the students about what our goals for the project are. Everyone was going to divide into groups with roughly equal balance, take a page of the book, and compose music that illustrates what is happening in their assigned text. Then, we’re going to put it all together, learn each other’s music, and perform it as our closer for our Winter Concert!


No pressure!


I'm also thinking about including an accompanying slideshow with illustrations from the story, and doing auditions for a narrator who will read the book while we sing each section.

Brainstorm Sesh

These were our goals for the first day:

Once groups were decided and approved, I let them draw their lines out of a cup. I wrote everyone’s name down next to their part on my master list.

We used Chrome Music Lab to begin exploring different sounds. I didn’t expect anything concrete this first day, I just wanted them to share ideas. Everyone seems pretty pumped about this, not gonna lie.


I have no idea what our music is going to sound like. But, I’ve made the decision that this is an avenue that we need to explore! I’ve already had some students say how excited they are to be able to make their own music, as opposed to just performing.


I’ll keep you updated on our next steps.

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