This new series from the Piano Studio of Amber Staffa gives beginner composers an exciting, controlled environment to get creative and make some music of their own.
Students who have never composed before often get extremely overwhelmed if you give them too much freedom to write, and too many options to choose from. Ah, the paradox of choice!
This series has students re-write a Christmas song, taking one component out of the equation at a time. Students can keep the rhythm the same, but change all of the notes to new ones that they choose, or flip it around- keep the notes and change the rhythms. (making sure they satisfy the time signature of course!)
In my opinion, the best thing about this composition activity is the exposure to motif and the opportunity to discover how notes are grouped. Students explore how to choose groups of notes that sound good together so they learn to compose phrases instead of simply selecting single notes at random.
I also use this activity as an example of how easily you can change the mood and tonality of a piece. I love getting back versions of Jingle Bells that now sound like Halloween horror stories because students shifted them from major to minor!
Each song has 2 pages: The first is a melody-only original with a blank staff that lines up directly below for clear back-and-forth work flow. The second is a blank grand staff so that more advanced students can extend the activity to include basic harmony and chords.
The book includes an instruction page that highlights several other ways to use it.