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Composing Yourself

quillI was 10 years old when I wrote my first song, but Mozart wrote his first noted composition at 5 yrs old. Pretty amazing stuff! Did you know that MYC students begin composing at age 3?!  They do, and they blow me away year after year.

Writing music is a hobby of mine which began with the sudden death of my infant cousin. Losing Katie was a pretty traumatic event in my life which unleashed some pretty unfamiliar and scary feelings. What is a 10 yr old to do with such strong emotion? I wrote a song.

Over the years, writing music has been a wonderful outlet for me both emotionally and creatively. I have been fortunate enough to have some of my pieces performed by others, some have been published, but most of the pieces I have written will never be heard and many have been lost over the years.  I am ok with that as it was the very process of composing, not the pieces themselves, that made the exercise worthwhile.

For me, the composing element of the Music For Young Children curriculum is one of its crowning  jewels. When a child can perform a piece they have written “from scratch”, there is a glow of satisfaction and pride that just cannot be described. The composition is a piece of them, a chance for them to express themselves . They use their favourite musical tools to tell a story and the results are always such a joy for me too.

In class, my students learn how to use the basic music concepts they have learned, organize them in a meaningful way and personalize the piece so that the end result is an original composition worthy of pride. My goal is to teach the students how easy composing can be if you have learned your theory. It is encouraging for students to see that there is a purpose to all the note writing exercises, the note math, the scales and chord practice. I believe that composing wraps it all up into one neat little package…and like most wrapped parcels, it begs for further exploration.

When writing, you and your young musician should know:

  • it is important that the song is his/hers
  • sometimes your child may like sounds that you may not like. It is ok to lead but it is important to respect your child’s likes/dislikes, allowing them to experiment with rhythm and melody
  • your child should do the physical writing as much as possible, even at a young age they are able to draw the rhythm with some guidance
  • encourage your child to think outside the box
  • the exercise is meant to be fun. Be proud of what your child creates.

I can hardly wait to see and hear what wonderful treasures my students will create this year. All of the compositions will be sent to Music For Young Children’s annual Composition Festival where they will be played and judged by a panel of teachers. All children who submit a piece will receive a beautiful participation sticker. Last year there were 13000 compositions submitted from MYC students all over the world!!! It is a wonderful celebration of creativity and the joy of music. Visit myc.com to read more about this exciting aspect of Music For Young Children.

I encourage all of my students to continue writing using the tools and techniques we have learned in class. I am always happy to see or hear the songs they write. Please bring them in to share.  Happy composing!!

For children who love to compose, The Music Box will be holding a composition camp in July. Please ask Ms. Aimee for more information.

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