Composing Together’s professional composers and musicians bring imagination into middle and high school classrooms, engaging students in applied learning to create fun, hands-on music composition. Students get involved in every step in their creative process, working as a team to express and realize their ideas into musical sounds. Through Composing Together, young people learn to trust their own ideas and listen to others, to explore new ways to express their thoughts, and to see how art can make their ideas come to life.
Ages 7-14, Beginner to Intermediate Strings
The Teddy Bear Picnic is a fun and playful introduction to composition, musical form, improvisation, and using imagination with music. It is designed to inspire Beginners and Intermediate string players (first and second year) and lasts for one hour or one class period. Most appropriate for ages 7-14, maximum 25 students per workshop.
Students learn how to recognize and develop a “Rondo” form composition starting with just an open D string, one finger, and a lot of imagination. Each variation is created as students give personalities to each “bear” character at their picnic. The final composition is performable and extremely entertaining for everyone involved and can feature individual students, specific sections, or the whole ensemble. Wonderful way to showcase creativity while developing technique.
Blues for Strings
Grades 4-6, 6-8, or High School
This one or two session workshop introduces middle and high school string players to all the basic elements of playing the 12-bar blues. Every student experiences playing bass lines, melodies, “comping” parts, harmony lines, back beats, and will begin improvising melodies. More advanced students can take the materials provided to begin writing, rehearsing, and performing their own blues immediately.
Students learn a bit of American history, tracing the origin of the blues tradition, then practice hearing a 12-bar form, recognizing the chord progression, and playing pentatonic and blues scales, all of which build overall musicianship skills and support traditional repertoire learning.
“My Goldfish Died” can be a real motivator for students who are either ahead or behind the pack with their technique. Playing the blues presents new challenges for advanced students, and the emphasis on expression over technical facility can level the playing field for less advanced players. This workshop functions as an ensemble builder as well as a fun and informative event.