What does it look like in the classroom?
Composition in Music-COMP schools generally involves entire music classes. It often begins in third or fourth grade where students have access to notation software in the computer lab or music classroom. Students in the elementary and middle levels work in pairs or groups of three to create their original work. At the high school level, students usually work individually, often in a theory/composition class. Composition is gradually making its way into instrumental and vocal ensemble classes. Successful strategies for composition have been developed by project teachers and by the professional composer mentors.
Reflection and Critique:
Students share their work often in guided critique sessions within the classroom. Reflecting on their own work and critiquing the work of others is essential as students explain their intent and develop the use of music vocabulary to describe their compositions. Students learn to ask for specific feedback from others within their classroom. Representative student work is posted to the Music-COMP password protected website for sharing and critique by professional composers and other teachers and students involved in the project. Revision of student work is a recursive procedure where students get feedback on their work-in-progress and consider which of the suggestions will help them improve their work. Critique can also come from other teachers and students who participate in the project. See Mentoring Guidelines for Teachers, Mentors and Students for specific details.
Since April 2000, student compositions have been selected for live performance in the Opus events, where professional performers rehearse with each student before an evening concert. Live performance takes students beyond writing the music with the computer. They learn to accurately represent their composition in print so they may communicate their work to the musicians. Most students, including elementary and middle school students, use the Noteflight notation software program, an online notation program which they can access from home without any software purchase. An evening Opus concert is presented for the public and the work is captured on video, audio, and in a multimedia CD. Examples of student work can be seen here.