Skip to main content

Let’s Create a Composition Revolution in Massachusetts

Young Composers and Improvisers Workshop
www.yciw.net

Teaching composition is no easy task as the majority of pedagogical resources available lack the understanding of the typical classroom anatomy. Many teachers feel uncomfortable teaching this subject as we were not taught such concepts in our college pedagogy courses and may have never really delved into composition in our own role of music maker.  This really puts us out of our comfort zone, and yet the benefits of a successful composition curriculum can become a catalyst for increased meaningful music making for our students.  

A music teacher in New York by the name of Matt McLean set out to debunk the common misconceptions we sometimes envision in classroom music composition.  Matt created the non-profit organization and curriculum called the Young Composers and Improvisers Workshop (YCIW).  He notes that “as a music educator I've seen my students develop their strongest connection to music when they are given the opportunity to create something. I developed the YCIW curriculum to provide a way for every student, regardless of experience, to gain mastery over how music works (melody, harmony, rhythm, form etc.) while engaged in the process of creating and realizing their own musical ideas.”  

Why is YCIW Innovative?
Matt states that “most music composition curricula ask students to first spend time doing tedious, often disconnected tasks before ever having a chance to be creative. We want kids to be able to "play with concepts" in an experiential way while simultaneously using them in a purposeful way -their own composition.”

Matt explains that  “instead of having to first learn how to read music notation, students make creative choices about how they'd like their melody to sound and in doing so build their music reading skills. This kind of experiential learning is embedded in every step of the YCIW curriculum.”  

Another unique aspect of this program is having student compositions performed by professional musicians.  Matt draws a connection in that “we motivate students by having them feel that their efforts are part of the real world. Hearing musicians interpret their music not only makes for a powerful experience but also provides the ultimate feedback on which each student can reflect.”

This past spring was the first live simulcast performance featuring twenty student compositions from five schools across the United States. The compositions were performed by the Grammy-nominated Metropolis Ensemble and included seven student works from Pentucket’s Music Technology course.  The successful student impact was an eye opener as a teacher and I was thankful for how well thought-out the curriculum was and for how successful the students felt.  

How it Works
  1. Teacher signs up through www.yciw.net.  The fee is $5.00 per student.  There are no other fees.
  2. The teacher is given login credentials to his/her own “YCIW Classroom” online learning management system along with student login credentials.  This includes a full gradebook and Noteflight accounts for all of the students.
  3. Students login and complete the self-paced curriculum.  Throughout the process, the teacher and a Composer-Mentor from YCIW will leave assignment/composition feedback for the students.
  4. Student compositions can then be performed for others from peers and some might be selected for professional performance over a live internet broadcast through YCIW.

To learn more about the curriculum and listen to student compositions performance by professional ensembles, visit www.yciw.net.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Introducing the Pentucket Music Conservatory!

www.pentucketmusic.com The Pentucket Regional School District is now by definition, the most innovative public school system in the state of Massachusetts.  Innovation schools were originally designed for lower level school districts facing state takeover.  Pentucket, considered a higher achieving district, was able to capitalize on the opportunity to add innovation schools when the state department made it possible for any level district to apply.

See the following Boston Globe articles:
1
2

What is the Pentucket Music Conservatory?
This is an innovation school focused on the music education we provide for Pentucket students in grades 7-12.  Over the course of the 2014-2015 school year, a committee made up of faculty, administration, a school committee member, parents, and a student representative dedicated their time to answer the following two initiatives:
1. Create career pathways for music
2. Expand the music education opportunities for students not in our traditional band/chorus/o…

Band Room: A New Design

Just in case we ever get a new or renovated high school (I might be dreaming), I wanted to be prepared for helping input the best design possible for a new band and chorus room.  I ended up attending a clinic by the Wenger group.  Wenger is the company that made the acoustic shells on our high school auditorium stage along with the two "soundproof" practice rooms that were installed back in the 1960's.  The company is now the standard company used in the United States for music room design.

I learned many things at this clinic.  Firstly, I learned that most bands and choruses have their own rehearsal rooms, practice rooms, and offices.  We spent a long time focusing on where sound goes after it leaves the instrument.  Our music room has a ceiling that needs to be at least four feet higher.  Additionally all the equipment in the room cuts down on reverberation.  It is suggested that any closets or storage areas in a band room have open grilled doors so that air and sound c…

Lincoln Center-Aesthetic Education Five-Day Training

-Art Making-Questioning-Reflection-Contextual Information- A Week at Lincoln Center
... to perceive, a beholder must create his own experience.  And his creation must include relations comparable to those which the original producer underwent.  They are not the same in any literal sense.  But with the perceiver, as with the artist, there must be an ordering of the elements of the whole that is in form, although not in details, the same as the process of organization the creator of the work consciously experiences.  Without an act of recreation, the object is not perceived as a work of art.  The artist selected, simplified, clarified, abridged and condensed according to his interest.  The beholder must go through these operations according to his point of view and interest.  -John Dewey, Art as Experience

This past July I was accepted into a one-week training at the Lincoln Center for Education in New York.  The majority of the what I would be learning had to do with a pedagogy system ba…