Our semester-long "Living Composer Project" finally concluded this month with an awesome spring recital--and some very sweet letters written by my students to their composers of choice.
I blogged last month about the composers my students would be representing in our spring recital--and everyone did a wonderful job! I shared some of the facts that my students researched about the composers on the back of our recital program, and I think it was fun for the audience to learn a bit more about the composers behind the music that was featured.
Today I wanted to share a few of the letters my students wrote during our final month of this project:
Dear Jennifer Eklund,
My name is Ava, I am 11 years old, and I have been playing the piano for two years. My teacher has been helping me learn about living composers, and I have been learning your pieces "The Calm" and "Nightscape." My favorite thing about your music is how flowing it is and how you use the pedal. One question I have about your music is how do you compose it? Do you have people helping you?
Dear Randall Hartsell,
My name is Miles, I am 13 years old, and I have been playing the piano for five years. My teacher has been helping me learn about living composers, and I have been learning your piece "Raiders in the Night." My favorite thing about your music is that it is so calm and soothing. One question I have about your music is how do you come up with the notes?
Dear Kristen Allred,
My name is Annika, I am 12 years old, and I have been playing the piano for 2.5 years. My teacher has been helping me learn about living composers, and I have been learning your piece "The Prowling Panther." I love it! I learned how to play it a few weeks ago and I'm playing it for the recital! My favorite thing about your music is how fun it is. It is jumpy, like, fun to play and move around. One question I have about your music is how do you come up with your pieces? Do you have any advice for composing a piece? What is your favorite piece you ever wrote?
Final Thoughts on the Project
I really enjoyed seeing the excitement my students had for the music we worked on this semester, and it was enlightening to read in their own words the thoughts they had about the music and the questions they had for the composers. I was introduced to some new-to-me living composers by my students--and it was helpful to know what types of music my students are listening to outside of their piano lessons.
I will definitely continue to make more of an effort to point out to my students who composed the music they are playing, and to encourage my students to read about the composers whose music they are studying. I think it is important that students make the connection that music and art are products created by real people--and that as patrons of the arts we should make an effort to support this important work whenever possible.
It was also exciting for my students to have the opportunity to connect in person with the composers we studied. My students were thrilled to get responses from many of the composers they contacted. In fact, I heard from one teacher who adapted this project for her chorus classroom, and her class wrote and received a response from Alan Menken, of Disney music fame! Isn't it exciting that we live in a world where so much great music, and so many talented composers, are only a click of the mouse away?
What do you think? Did you use any of the "living composer project" materials with your students? I would love to hear from you in the comments!