- Spread out a set of Musical Alphabet Cards and have your student pick four cards. Use only the cards without the flat and sharp symbols. Sometimes I'll have them re-draw if they pick four notes all in a row, or sometimes it just adds to the challenge.
- Each student will use those four notes to compose a short melody - any rhythm, and octave, etc. They can use any of the four notes as many times as they want.
- It may be helpful to have your students designate one of their cards to be the Key of their song. They will want to end their song with that note. For instance, if their cards are D, G, C, and F, and they choose to make D the key of their song, the F's and C's will need to be sharp, and the last note should be a D. They can use all the notes as many times as they want.
- I encouraged them to write at least five measures, but they could do more if they wanted.
-This week is spent correcting notation - stem direction, note spacing, incomplete measures, etc. Its good for them to write and re-write, which will give them a great understanding of symbols, theory, and notation. I also help them with their melodies if they are struggling at this point, but I try to lead them in the direction they should go, rather than just fix it for them. This is their composition and should reflect their inner artists.
Once they are satisfied with their melody, I have them add a 3-4 measure of a "B" section, or a bridge, and then repeat their melody. This may need to be spread out over a few weeks, depending on their level of understanding.
I review the most common chords (I, IV, V7) for the key their song is in. We write the chords down, along with the inversions of those chords. Each student takes a sheet of chords home and tries to find the best sounding chord for each measure. They write the chord name above the melody.
Using the chord names, my students developed a L.H. for their melody using variations of the chords, different rhythms, etc.
Add dynamics, fingerings, and anything else, and put it into the computer to make it official! My students especially love seeing their own compositions printed out.
Here is the first completed song for this exercise. I made up a cover to make it extra special for my student. I'll post more songs as my students complete their compositions and I get their covers done. They all did such a great job!
by Josh Hoffman
Click here to download Circus Rush