Composition Competition

When I tell my students that we will be working on composing I am sometimes met with eye rolls, moans, and judgmental comments. “I’m not good at that” is a favorite. This view is akin to saying “I don’t like Thai food” when one has never eaten Thai food. The process of composing is a mystery to many of us (students as well as teachers) and we tend to think of composers as those exceptional superhuman beings like Mozart or Beethoven. Consider this: Every day we are hearing music. It’s everywhere! Video games, cartoons, church, movies, the gro-cery store, washing machines (yes, my new washer plays a little tune when it’s done!), and advertisements…Who has heard “Liberty, Liberty, Liiiiberty” at least nine million times, right? Someone composed “Liberty, Liberty, Liiiiberty” and they’re most likely making the big bucks from it. 

When children are learning language in school, part of the process is writing. The ability to express concepts, ideas, and opinions is a confirmation that the language is being internalized. This doesn’t mean that the student must become a novelist or a poet, but rather that the understanding of language is a 2-way street: The process of expressing an idea or concept on paper reinforces and enhances the development of the ability to read and un-derstand someone else’s idea or concept. This works with music as well. Creating a composition teaches the stu-dent about the “bones” of music which in turn helps them with learning new material. In addition, creativity and expression are a part of all of us and tapping into them can be a breath of fresh air…a welcome respite from the troublesome time we have all experienced this past year. 

We still have almost TWO months. Composing a short piece does not take that long. I encourage you to give it a try. I will be happy to answer questions and share things that have worked for me. Please feel free to contact me at: 

Ellene Owens 

Student Composition Competitions Chair 

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