Many of my elementary students are bringing in first drafts of their Halloween compositions to their lessons this week, which has been a breath of fresh air for me! I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how competent many are becoming at writing on the staff, and also at how creative they’ve been about adding “sound effects” like pedal and 8va markings, dynamics and articulations to make their pieces express just what they want. Judging by what I’ve heard this week, last week’s creative improv activity at group lessons was a success!!
I’ve been making a concentrated effort this summer and fall to encourage some of my students who struggle with reading to do more composing, so that they get a chance to practice their notes in a different way – writing. Most of these students have really embraced the chance to spend part of their practice time writing instead of always fighting to read music at home. It’s given them new enthusiasm for lessons, and I’m starting to see their notereading skills improve. Hooray!
Coincidentally, when I sat down at the computer to catch up on some news last night after lessons, I ran across this article, which was a perfect reaffirmation of what I’ve been seeing in my students this week! Although it speaks to the benefits of handwriting letters and language, I think some of the findings could certainly apply to writing music by hand. I love Finale and my MIDI keyboard, but it when I think about it, I DO feel most creative and really wrap my brain around things when I sketch them out on paper first. Growing up in a world full of technology, I hope my students develop processes that spark their creativity in a similar way. It was good to hear that I’m on the right track in making them do some writing!