Guiding Students to Compose a Mystery for You?

The New Harmony Line team is excited to help! Join our Office Hours Q&A sessions on the first Tuesday of every month, 7:30 ET.

Cecilia Roudabush, Director of Education

Guiding students to write original compositions is something I did not do until Year 17 out of 32 years of teaching. Assuredly, I was intimidated by the blank page I was presenting them with. Honestly, I had written very little music myself. Definitely, I thought they needed to know theory in order to compose! The Hyperscore workshop I attended in 2007 with Professor Tod Machover, who leads the M.I.T. Opera of the Future Group, changed my whole outlook on composing with students!

Hyperscore–guiding students to compose

Behind the simple Hyperscore user interface were all the rules of Western harmony. All my students had to do was put in a note and decide to make it longer or shorter. Do I want the notes higher or lower? What instrument do I play the notes with? What notes or phrases do I pair? How fast or slow should my work move and how loud or soft should it play? Guiding students to compose was so simple with a program that let them decide where to go with a little check-in here or there from me! Most importantly, was there time for individual conferences? Sure! Everybody’s busy leaving me time to move around the room–check.

Hyperscore: sophisticated results

I take great pride in the work my students produce, just as so many of them do for themselves. In 2007, three of my students earned the opportunity to have their works played by the Ying Quartet on the stage of Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City, Iowa after I attended Professor Machover’s workshop. I still enjoy Sam’s “Letting Off Some Steam” in my “Hyperscore Forever Favorites” file. I’ve blogged about “Untitled by Randalette” and “Pew Pew Pew” written by students in the early 2000’s that I consider to be classic examples of student creativity.

Recently, I blogged about the long-term music substitute gig that resulted in 32 songs being added to our YouTube Channel. One favorite, “Kings and Queens“, was written by by a 2nd grader! “Tools” is just as adorable. Amazingly, a kindergartner is showing us their quarter note alternating steady beat and their experimentation with note values in the rhythm window. We also have an ESL teacher who started a unit in October with her 3 year olds. Pre K-12–anyone can compose!

If you find guiding students to compose to be a mystery, please join us for our monthly Office Hours Q&A sessions and discover Hyperscore with us. Get more information and register by clicking on the next upcoming Office Hours event on our events page, or register directly here. We hope to see you there!

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