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Home Curriculum General Music Teachers: It’s all about the Motif, not music theory.
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General Music Teachers: It’s all about the Motif, not music theory.

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When music teachers want to teach how to compose music, they immediately teach the I, IV, and V chords, the C major scale, and how it all works together. Those of you, who are not musicians, are asking what are you talking about? No wonder we lose the general population, and too much information. Does a first grade teacher teach how to write a five-paragraph theme or how to write a compound sentence, the first time they write a story? No. First grade teachers are concerned about the story; the mechanics comes after the story is written. I view composing the same way.

There are two kinds of beginning composers: students who have a melody already and those we develop melody serendipity. The first group, the students have their “motif” in their head and want it on paper. The simple addition of articulation (staccato and legato) and dynamics (loud and soft) creep into their compositions.

The second group, students have the “more is better” method. They compose many pages and pages of notes. Listening to this rambling can be extremely arcane. That is when I ask the question “What measure(s) do you like the best, or I really like this section.” Then we delete the rest together. Yes, we delete over ninety-five percent of the entire song. Taking the two to four measures and repeating them, or retrograde them, creates an interesting and organized song. They are amazed how wonderful it sounds. I do not add a note, I delete notes. I make it simple.

Also, in the beginning, students will compose using the same rhythm: quarter notes. Bor-ring. I ask the student to pick a number between 1 and 4, then delete the quarter note from each measure the same i.e.: if they chose 2, then every second beat the note is deleted.

Now trying to get to every station and listen to their compositions can be stressful. That is why my website is a major part of every lesson. I have new things posted daily, so students that complete their composition or are waiting for me to listen to their composition, go to my website www.carolbroos.com

You can also see many compositions on my website as well. You will need to download scorch in order to view and listen to the compositions, don’t worry, it’s free.

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  1. Hey, I am very interested in your blog as I am also a music teacher who is enamored with technology! I currently teach only pre-school music, so I struggle a little bit with how to get technology involved but I used to teach middle school general music and band and really enjoyed integrating technology into my music classroom.

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