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Teaching Composing to your Students

Discussion in 'Composing' started by fluterific00, Jun 16, 2009.

  1. fluterific00

    fluterific00 Member

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    So, I have begun to teach composition to one of my second grade students who has potential to become a very good pianist. She also could be a very good composer ands so she had her first lesson in composing today. I taught her A and B phrasing. I used the finale computer program. I know she is drawn to electronic equipment and in particular, the wii console. So, I thought this program may spark her interest in composing.
    I was wondering if there were any other suggestions, tips, etc. that you might be able to help me teach her composing. She's the first person I've tried this with. Most of my students have been guinea pigs with me in some form or fashion at one point in time! Anyway, any tips are helpful and welcome!
     
  2. Lukecash

    Lukecash New Member

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    Well, if it done on a keyboard at all: My teacher from a decade ago(Hammarstrom), started the class with pentatonics(but just the black keys). You can't really go so wrong when you use only the black keys, and there are major as well as minor chords you can use. That would be a good introduction to the idea of major and minor. As soon as there is general understanding of simple rhythmic device, using BH, and more than one note at the same time, then maybe you can move on to white keys only, familiarize your student with the idea of a scale, and start the memorization of Every Good Boy Does Fine, etc.

    Funny thing is, i took the class when i was about 15, so i had been composing for 3 years already, but it still beat having any other elective. Some other good early stuff to get into is counting out simple time signatures, and fundamental forms like the 12 bar blues. Just whatever you do, don't get into Simon Glass, it's just bad juju. You couldn't even count the naive teens who actually call that art. Lmao, how could they call a minimalist an innovator?

    There's an aweful lot you can do, but just keep the interest going, keep the need to examine structure and you can have the young lady actually wholeheartedly wanting to be a classical artist in a few years. Sounds like a hell of a lot of fun, i always wanted to teach that class myself. 8)
     
  3. fluterific00

    fluterific00 Member

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    Hello-
    I hadn't thought about pentatonics. That will be good to teach.
    Lukecash:
    Well- she has a good understanding of most of those things listed. She is fairly familiar with a metronomes. BH, I'm assuming means bass hand, she has very good usage of. She knows major scales up to five notes of all of them. I'm breaking them down in increments. First five notes of the scale in the circle of fifths. Then she will learn the whole ocatave when she finishes that, and so on. This she has all learned in her piano playing part of her lesson. She can read notes very well. In fact, she is probably more advanced than where she should actually be. (That's a good thing, but a bad thing when it comes to teaching techniques!) She has been taking for about two years or so. Though, she went on sabbatical for a summer vacation one year.
    I don't know Simon Glass as I don't play much jazz. I don't know proper chord progressions and things like that myself! I should study up on it some though. There is some beautiful jazz piano music out there!
    I will look at what I could do with the pentatonic. She could write a Chinese sounding piece or something like that.
    Thanks!
     
  4. Jennifer

    Jennifer New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi, I have had a few piano students that showed an interest in writing. I've found that every student is different. Use their piano litterature as a "model" with regard to form and phrase periods. When ever students begin to compose, they always go through a period of imitation.

    Someone mentioned the Pentatonic Scale. This is always good becuase there are no "wrong sounding" notes. This is do to the absence of half steps.

    If you are studying a piece that using question and answer phrases (parallel period), let the student writing a short composition that uses this technic. With my many of my students I do composition exercises to enforce a new conscept. I think composition is a great teaching tool becuse it forces the student to apply what he/she has learned.
     
  5. fluterific00

    fluterific00 Member

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    Composing

    Ok Thanks. I'm sorry I'm just now getting to your post. I had forgotten about this post. Unfortunately, this student I was talking about dropped piano all together as she became frustrated when things got hard. I kind of had also forgot about teaching her composition, so we didn't do much of that, and maybe she would have stayed if I would have helped her create her own. I don't know. I was hoping to see her clear till college or so, because she was good enough to handle it. But, I guess it just doesn't always work out.

    However, I can definitely use it with my group at the college where I work.

    Thanks for the help
     
  6. s_winitsky

    s_winitsky Member

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    Re: Composing

    Kind of an interesting topic. Crazy idea, but perhaps a good way to start is by having the student take existing arrangements and modify them via variation and changing keys etc etc. Also possibly have the students create introductions/endings based on themes and elements already in the score.

    I would think this would give students the most gratification as it will allow them to play personal versions of songs that are already well crafted and will also allow them to make simple piano arrangements rather elaborate.

     
  7. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I think that Luke meant Phillip Glass, a minimalist composer. I don't know that I've met anyone that considers this to be high art, yet they insist on teaching it in music schools because he was an important resident composer and experimenter in the 20th century for some arbitrary reasons which I do not yet understand. He had a big following at one point, but I imagine it's diminished somewhat. Minimalist music is not jazz. It is more similar to the New Age 'mood music' than anything else, and indeed New Age music was inspired by minimalism. The biggest difference is that minimalist pieces were almost always extremely long, with 20-30 minutes being about average (!), and the pieces were intentionally not developed much at all, but rather long strings of repetition, using simple and often elementary harmony and melody. Here is an example:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FniHgiyaTY
     

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