Composing music with children is not as hard as you think!
The idea of composing music with children fills some educational professionals with dread.
If you currently feel like this take a step back! We ask children to compose paintings, drawings, dances… music is no different! Just know what you are trying to get from the children is appropriate for their age. You’re not asking them to compose the next Pop song or Classical work. No more in art are you expecting them to paint Pop Art or Classicism
Break it down. What you need to be asking them to do is experiment with sound.
Start with their voice.
You can experiment with sound in songs, rhymes, or just creating sounds with their voice.
For example with the song 5 little men in a flying saucer, I ask the children to create their own sound for when the spaceman/lady flies away. If they copy the person next to them, that’s fine; they are exploring sound and that is your aim. Think for a minute, what songs/rhymes do you know that you could use to include weird and wonderful sounds?
If you don't know the song here is one version so that you can hear the tune. The children create the sound with their voices on the part when the man/lady flies away.
With older preschool children or Reception children…
You could then follow on from this to create a sound pattern; linking the children’s sound ideas together. Work with small groups, a maximum of 6 children. You initially act as the children’s scribe: create a shape, image, or word for their sound. Please watch this video for more guidance:
You may be wondering, is this music? Well, it is the beginning of what the children need in order to then create compositions. I studied musical composition at Coventry University/CCPA (Coventry Centre for the Performing Arts). Some of the music we explored took on the approach that I’m suggesting you do with children: creating sound patterns.
Most of all, in any musical activity you do with the children, show that you are having fun! I always find that if my involvement is enthusiastic and I am joining in, e.g. making the silly sounds, the children fully engage and have a smile on their faces.
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