Today was my first experience with an OFA composition class.
It was incredibly enlightening. I think sometimes as a teacher, with all of my training and technical background, it's easy to forget that music does not require a written page to be music.While these kids don't know exactly what chord progression they are doing or what notes they are singing, they do know what they like and they can create melodies without reading music. Ben had a very creative approach to the session, by having the kids audiate the music they created Tuesday before physically hearing it again. I think this is a really important skill, and I'm glad Ben introduced it to them. Perhaps we can solidify this skill in the future by having them practice with pop music that they already know as a homework assignment. If they can learn to sing the music silently in their head, then they will truly own it and be able to perform it. From there we sang through the part of the chorus to "Lost in New York," and finished composing it.
The approach to writing the music as a group was for Ben to play progressions in the background while the kids improvised. We would do that a few times in a row with one chord progression and then try it again with a new chord progression. From there, the kids would vote on which chord progression they liked, and then improvise again as a group to the chosen progression. Most of the kids have a natural ear for where they want the phrase to go, and how the phrase should end. With a little guidance from Ben and I, I think we actually came up with some pretty creative and accessible music. I'm looking forward to hearing the kids' homework, which was to create a melody for the last two lines of the "Acceptance Song." For next year's class, I think a lesson on hearing if pitches are higher or lower, and perhaps some interval training (tricks like "Here Comes the Bride" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" for 4ths and 5ths) will help the kids to express their musical ideas, as this was the biggest challenge during the class period. The class was really a great experience for both myself and the kids. I think we all learned very important aspects of the compositional process!