Composing for me isn’t just about creativity. A music composing project is also a wonderful way to bring your whole piano studio together and create a sense of community.
Each year at the Colourful Keys studio, all my students participate in a themed music composing project. Every one of my students writes their own piece on a particular theme, and at the end we record everyone’s compositions to create the annual piano studio album.
It’s that time of year for me, and this year I’ve chosen ‘Animal Menagerie’ as our composing theme. Animals are immediately evocative and relatable for students of all ages. Nature has inspired many composers, and I’m hoping my students will run away with this theme and make it their own. 🙂
If you need more convincing to fit composing into your piano lessons, check out this post on the 4 Awesome Added Benefits of Teaching Composing.
On board? Ok, let’s jump into the project.
How the Music Composing Project Works
Some structure is a good idea even with creative tasks. If we don’t provide a framework, many of our students will be lost at sea. Which is why I have a step-by-step process that my students can follow for our music composing project.
The animal menagerie composing pdf starts with composing an A and a B motif based on their chosen animal. We then plug these into a simple musical form, tweaking as we go.
After we have the melody composed, we work on harmony. I encourage my students to take inspiration for the harmonic structure and patterns from their own books. This has the added benefit of them paying attention to harmonic sequences that they often wouldn’t notice otherwise.
Finally we add the “details”: articulation, tempo marks and dynamics. You’d be surprised how much more attention students will pay to these in the pieces they learn, once they have carefully deliberated over and chosen markings for their own music composing project.
This system is simple and adaptable to almost all my piano students. For my students who are not yet reading using the grand staff, I use a modified version with a single staff and a keyboard map.
Every single student can get in on the creative composing fun!
Download Animal Menagerie
Why not get your own students to create a musical animal menagerie too? Enter your email below and I’ll send over the pdf for the Animal Menagerie Composing Project as well as a special version for young beginners, completely free.
Let’s share our musical menageries!
When we’re done I’ll be sharing my own students’ compositions on Soundcloud. I’d love to exchange and share student pieces with studios from around the world! How about a composition exchange?
Leave a link to your own students’ pieces once they’re done in the comments below (or email me here).