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YMSD Composition: Encouraging the young musicians

Recently, I conducted a music composition workshop for a few young music students, each of whom have had a few years of learning music. This is part of my continuing YMSD programs to stir the minds of young music students into the creative aspects of the musical arts.

Since these students do possess some music theory and instrumental studies, I chose the 8 bar composition from our 2009 Song Writing worksheet, instead of the one in the Piano Lesson Made Easy Level 1 book that is too elementary for these students.

Generally, music theory and instrumental studies are learned separately. There has to be musical activities that bring these together. Among the many musical activities that develops the musical mind, music composition brings together music rudiments, music theory and the musical instrument. By getting the music students to begin composing, I hope to let them discover their musical abilities and feel more relevance about earning music.

When composing, many mental and physical facilities in the music student come together to make the composition work. These consists of the student's musical knowledge, instrumental skills, development of the musical mind, musical talent, etc. Of course, some people are born more musically gifted than others, but it does not mean then that music are only for those with talent. Sometimes, latent talents have not surfaced in the individual and may require some time to come to the fore.

Likewise, with this group of music students, though they are thrilled at the prospect of composing music, they have some doubt about their overall musical skills. Putting their anxieties to rest, I simply told them that anyone who knows some music can begin composing. They need to compose music at the level that they can comprehend. Everyone needs a start and there is not better time to begin than as early as possible. Doing so will hopefully encourage them into music and cement their musical interests.

Composition will get students to put music into practice. The student will need these few basics to begin elementary composition.
  • Understanding scales and chords.
  • Knowing how to relate the composed melody to suitable chords.
  • Have a 'feel' for musical phrases (or start to develop this 'feel').
  • Knowing how to notate the music.
In the worksheet that was given to the students, an 8-bar accompaniment was provided and the students are only required to compose the melody. With this activity, the students will have to start 'hearing' how the melody they composed would relate to the provided accompaniment. Using the C Major scale, they would have to decide which are the best notes to construct the melody for this activity. Finally, they would have to give a suitable title to their composition.

Without such an activity like composition (among others), the music student will not really know how all the workings that makes good music come together. Shown below are the first compositions of these students. This 8-bar composition game taken from Because of Love (red book).