Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Composition as a Reinforcement Tool

"Can I compose a Sonatina???"
That was the question posed to me by one of my students today after I introduced her to this simplified version of Clementi's Sonatina . She has demonstrated amazing composing/improv ability and "WOW's" my other students with the compositions that she performs at group lessons.

Last week I decided to capitalize on this interest of hers - She'd much rather compose her own songs than play the ones in the lesson book. She hadn't quite mastered the a harmonic minor scale from the week before, so I asked her to compose a song including an a harmonic scale rather than giving her the same assignment again. This ended up being the perfect solution and I was pleased to hear plenty of broken primary chords in her song as well.

So in my efforts to apply the ideas I've gleaned from recently reading "Play it Again, Sam - What Why and When to Repeat" (by Marienne Uszler), I decided to let her give it a try. Uszler mentions that effective teachers can present the same concept in a myriad of different ways and thus appeal to the various senses and learning styles of each student and aid in reinforcement of concepts.

Sometimes it takes a little courage for me to think outside the box of tools that my teachers passed on to me... composition was definitely not one of them. But based on last weeks lesson assignment results, I discarded my previous lesson plan ideas. My student seemed pretty intrigued with the Sonatina which I introduced to her go along with our focus this month on the Classical Era, so I taught a mini lesson on Sonatina form and briefly reviewed identifying relative keys. I asked her to come back next week with the beginnings of her composition including the following components:

Exposition (major),
Development (relative minor)
Recapitulation (reintroduce the major theme)
Contrasting Legato & Staccato elements
at least 1 scale

After she listened to Clementi's original composition on CD, I let her loose on the Doodle Pad for lab time. After hearing her "beginning stage of composition" on the Music Ace Doodle Pad that I had her create during lab time, I'm excited for next weeks lesson!

For more ideas about encouraging Composition check out Wendy's blog at Compose Create. Her posts have given me the inspiration and motivation to utilize composition as a tool in my studio more often.

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