The Six Songs of Your Life, Worksheet

Compose Your Own Adventure: Teaching Musicianship Through Performance
Friday, February 21st, 2014 3:30-4:20pm EH 2007-2008
California All State Music Education Conference. 

Session Overview: Composition is continuing to become an exciting and important part of the band and orchestra classroom. While many teachers already employ composition lessons within their classrooms, many teachers are not sure where to start. Teachers already teaching composition are often looking for new lessons to bring to their classrooms. Composition lessons in our large ensembles provides our students with yet another creative musical outlet, brings greater depth to their musical knowledge, and enhances musicianship. This session will provide an overview of two composition lessons that can be tailored to beginning, intermediate, and advanced students in band or orchestra. These lessons will be included in a soon to be published book (due out in early fall) by GIA Publications entitled "Musicianship: Composing in Band and Orchestra".

Session Power Point & Handouts

Lesson 1-Compose Your Own Adventure
In this lesson (geared primarily for beginning and intermediate students) students follow a worksheet prompt to start their composition entitled "Compose Your Own Adventure." In the worksheet students are asked to make decisions about starting pitch, length, and meter of their compositions. The worksheet assists students in brainstorming and organizing their thoughts as they begin their compositional adventure. Though designed for middle school beginning band students, this lesson can be adapted for any grade level. The “Choose Your Own Adventure” composition worksheet can be altered to fit any group’s needs. It can be used with beginning or middle school band, orchestra, or choir students or could even be used at the high school level. The lesson is easily adaptable
by changing the parameters of the adventure (e.g., starting pitches, length, meter, key). This lesson can be taught as a stand-alone lesson or paired with the high school (or more advanced ensemble) lesson “Composition Pen Pals." A step-by-step lesson plan, student worksheets, student self-evaluations, teacher rubric, and samples of student work will be included in the presentation.

Lesson 2-Composition Pen Pals Commission Project
This lesson can be done in conjunction with Lesson 1 or can be done as a stand alone lesson. In this lesson the melodies generated in the "Compose Your Own Adventure" lesson are then distributed to a more advanced level student (either students at the same school or between middle school and high school ensembles). The advanced students work in small groups to make a band arrangement of the "Compose Your Own Adventure" compositions that then make them playable by the full band or orchestra. This Composition Pen Pals Commission Project can be adapted to other settings (e.g., middle school or high school choir or orchestra). You could use this within a middle school music department and have more advanced students (instead of high school students) write arrangements for the beginning ensemble. In a high school setting, you could have freshmen write the original melody and upperclassmen complete the arrangement. This project could work as a collaboration between schools anywhere; you
could even use Skype to share performances with each other. If your pen pals are geographically close to each other, you could have an informal performance so pen pals could meet each other! You can also modify this project by having students write arrangements of folk melodies instead of using student-composed melodies. Sample lesson plans and student work samples will be presented in the session. 

Past Presentation
"Getting the Most Out Of Your Percussion Section
Saturday January 11th, CMEA Bay Section Conference

Session Overview: This session is geared for all levels of band directors. I will be sharing strategies for getting the most out of your percussion section in the concert band setting. This clinic will explore suggestions for set up, equipment organization, warm-ups, part assignments, resources for purchasing instruments. The session will also include solutions to common performance problems for young percussionists and ideas for how to cultivate a stronger sense of responsibility and musicianship within your percussion section.

Here's the link to the session materials:

And if you would like a word document version of the percussion assignment chart you can find it here: (special shout out to Chris Kaldy for sharing this document with me)

I recommend a few top notch percussion stores/websites to assist you with any and all of your percussion needs. They have outstanding employees and great knowledge about purchasing percussion equipment and the needs our school music program.

Lone Star Percussion

Steve Weiss Music

Percussion Source

And if you need local help with purchasing percussion equipment, maintenance, percussion educator I recommend contacting my good friend Reno Brian. Between the two of us we can help you out!


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