Creative Choral Composing

Katie Schmidt
[email protected]
Stoughton Public Schools

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Notation

Level:

Elementary

Class:

General Music

Equipment:

Notation Software if applicable

Duration:

40 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Ability to read basic treble staff pitch and rhythmic notation.
Knowledge of composing and lyric-writing.

NAfME Standards of 1994 Addressed:

NAfME Standards of 1994: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.
NAfME Standards of 1994: Reading and notating music.

NAfME 2014: Creating

Materials:

Vocal Exercises Worksheet
Pencils
Computers with notation software and keyboards if possible.

Objectives:

The student will compose a 4-measure vocal warmup to be used in a choral setting.
The student will create a melody using only quarter, half, or whole notes.
The student will create and attach lyrics appropriately under the correct pitches.

Procedures:

The teacher will first review the note names on the treble staff. The teacher will then review basic notational devices, such as quarter, half, whole and eighth notes, as well as melodic direction.

After the review of notation, the teacher will pass out the “Vocal Exercises” worksheets. The first page has 4 vocal warmups the students know from their chorus class. The second page has four activities for the students to complete. Numbers 1 and 2 have only the lyrics and the students must create a simple 4-measure melody and attach the lyrics appropriately. Numbers 3 and 4 have a simple melody that the students must compose and attach lyrics to.

The teacher will then have the students examine the melodies on the first page. (their usual choral warmups written out) The students will notice the melodic direction i.e. upward and downward, using steps and repeats, and almost no big leaps. After some discussion, take a look at the lyrics. Notice how the words fit under the notes, and occasionally have to be hyphenated to fit correctly under a series of notes.

Finally, discuss how the students might go about composing their choral warmups. They will start with the lyrics already there for them, and they must create a simple 4-measure melody and attach the lyrics correctly. They will then proceed to examine the given melodies and the students must create their own lyrics to accompany these melodies. They will then attach them to the melodies as they have done previously.

Now the students are ready to begin their compositions. If the MIDI stations are available, students can use a computer and keyboard to key in their notes and hear them. Here they will develop the listening skills necessary to figure out when a note isn’t working (as in the first 2 exercises) and how to fix it.

After the students are done, the performances begin. The teacher can play and sing selected warmups for the whole class to hear.

Time at the end is available for group discussion on the idea of composing and adding lyrics appropriately.

Evaluation:

Evaluation is based on whether or not the students completed the assignment while following the basic guidelines:

The student completed four, four-measure choral warmups.
The student composed using only quarter, half, or whole notes.
The student placed the lyrics under the correct notes, and hyphenated correctly when needed.

Follow Up:

This leads to the further discussion and practice of composing, but also the possibilty of arranging. The teacher may select the best new choral warmups, or perhaps one from each child, and have the class arrange a medley of these to use at the beginning of chorus.

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