A Class Composition Project
Last fall, to fill the void when our singing time was up, my classes worked on a group composition project. Here are the steps we took to put it together.
I let the kids use Melody Maker on Chrome Music Lab to come up with a pitch pattern they liked first. Then, we went around and shared our patterns with each other by playing them on the app.
Once everyone had a melody they were happy with, I gave them a half sheet of staff paper that looked like this:
(This was my example for reference)
I drew a staff chart on the board to help figure students figure out how to turn their melody maker into notes on the page:
(the chart I'm talking about is in the bottom right corner. I know the sight reading example above it is distracting...we were learning how to sight read on text instead of solfege and I was making up random phrases each day).
Then, following the steps on the paper above, everyone created their own rhythms before combining it together with pitch. I walked around and helped them make sure pitches made it to the correct spot, rhythms added up to 4 beats per measure, etc.
On a different day, we created the text for our song by doing a "choose your own adventure" style activity. The first person said a word to begin a sentence, and then the next person added the next word, etc. until we ended up with....poetry?
Some classes decided to be cohesive. Others chose chaos.
Turning it into a song!
As a group, we decided what order to put all of our individual melodies in, and then I transferred everything into Google Flat. Once that was done, I added in their text, and we discussed the concept of matching syllables to text. I started each text out with one note per syllable, then let the class go back and help me edit: they got to decide whether the syllable made sense in a certain place, or whether they should make each syllable longer/shorter, etc. They also got to decide if any pitch/rhythm needed further editing to better match the text.
Here are some examples of what we ended up with:
The group above didn't do as much work on text phrasing as the next one.
See? This class was ALL about phrasing.
Maybe we could call this one "avant garde?"
Google Flat was a huge help with this project, because you could set the tempo at different speeds and play back what was entered so that the kids could instantly hear what their work sounds like.
Not gonna lie, I enjoyed trying to dramatically sing their melodies for them, though.
Take it a step further
We started this process but didn't finish. The plan was to next add chord structure underneath the completed melodies and end up with a full-fledged, chaotic-mess of a song. But we did start the prep for this by learning about pop chord structure.
I taught a mini-lesson on chord structure, starting with a basic I-IV-V-I progression. Then, I showed them the pop chord progression: I-vi-IV-V-I. After our lesson, I pulled up Spotify and let students call out songs. We looked them up and listened to see if each song used the pop chord progression. A fun lesson in itself, really!