For the month of April, we will be exploring 3 basic chord progressions and creating original music using the process of guided composition. Through this process, even your elementary students can compose and notate their own musically satisfying compositions!
Click "read more" to learn how it works, and to download your free guided composition worksheets!
First things first--you may be wondering just exactly what "guided composition" means and how it works.
"Guided composition" means that we will be giving students a template for their composing. This template will provide the building blocks necessary for any student to successfully create and notate a musically satisfying composition. Once students have completed their guided composition, they are encouraged to take these building blocks and use them as a starting point for their own original piece, where they will have freedom to change the accompaniment pattern, use a different rhythm, add more measures...the sky's the limit!
In the worksheets below, students will be given a chord progression for the left hand to play and a rhythm for the right hand melody, which they will create on their own. We will be exploring 3 fun chord progressions, each representing a different musical style. Click on each worksheet below to download your free PDF!
Start with improvising. Ask students to play the chords as written with the left hand and improvise a melody with the right hand using the given rhythm first. If students need help getting started, you might give them a few simple rules of thumb for creating a pleasing melody: stick to one five-finger scale, start the melody with a note that is part of the chord, and use mainly stepping notes.
Choose your favorite melodic patterns to write on the treble clef staff provided. Once students are comfortable with the process of improvising, have them write the notes of their favorite melodic ideas on the staff, using the given rhythm.
Make it your own. Once a student has completed their guided composition, encourage them to make it their own! Create an exciting title and write it on the line provided. Younger students might think about what articulation, dynamics, and tempo markings they could add to the music. Older students might create a new melody using a rhythm of their choosing, explore different accompaniment patterns in the left hand, or repeat the chord progression with a different melody to make their piece longer. Then, they can write out their new and improved composition on staff paper (I like Susan Paradis’s free staff paper variety pack, which includes an assortment of staff sizes, found HERE).
Share with a friend! Encourage your students to share their works with a friend, sibling, or parent--either by performing their piece or sharing the sheet music. I often have my students do a "composition swap," where students learn and perform a composition by one of their peers. It is very motivating for both the composer and the performer!
Looking for more guided composition resources? Head to my "Free Stuff" page HERE and scroll down to "Improv, Composition, and Theory Worksheets."
What do you think? Do you use the process of guided composition with your students? What are your favorite chord progressions for composing? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!