Teacher notes...;Project;Music for the Millennium

24th April 1998 at 01:00
* There are many ways into composition. The musical focus of this project is on pitch; it is just one possible route. Feel free to add other concepts - rhythm, speed changes, different note lengths, pauses, loud and soft passages. No formal musical skills are needed, but if the teacher or pupils are musicians, their skills should be welcomed. You can do this whole project with voices alone; add clapping or other body sounds for rhythm patterns. Start simply, let the ideas grow naturally, and sing as much as possible.

* The "paths" and "journeys" shown in the project are only examples. Let pupils explore them. With guidance they can add as many imaginative variations and embellishments as they wish. They can sing to "lah", or to descriptive words "up", "down", "soft", "loud" or they can write lines of poetry to sing - all is possible.

* The aim is for the pupils to turn from the examples and produce their own "paths" and "journeys" - in effect, tunes, pieces of music, compositions. Help pupils to find ways of writing down their music, evolving a system of graphic notation. Test notation by letting other pupils perform it. If the interpretation is different, accept this and discuss it.

* Our musical paths are illustrated by art work that hints at stories, poems, drama - the potential is there for a cross-curricular musicartlanguagedrama project.

* As compositions develop, introduce basic forms such as Ternary which is "ABA" (First tune; second idea; back to the first tune). A variation on this is "AABA" (Tune; repeat the tune; new idea; the tune again- very common in popular music). Rondo form is a series of musical ideas arranged like this - "ABACADA". The main idea "A" stays the same, perhaps with small changes of texture or dynamics.

* Have confidence to use this project as you wish. Just bear in mind the basics that underlie it: take the note on a journey, listen self-critically to the tune it sings; refine it; record it on paper; see if someone else can interpret what is written.

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