Composing with Quotes

Age Range: 11 - 16
By: Maria Cristina Penalosa

I usually want to make it interesting for my students especially when it's composition time.

I have collected a lot of quotes about music and I choose the cool ones that will suit their taste. I give them each a copy of 10-15 quotes and make them choose one and write it down in their Music notebook. I ask them to syllabicate each word, after which we use Pentatones (depending on their choice do or Sol or La pentatone) for assigning tones and putting music on to the quotation.

I usually recall with them the tones that belong to each pentatone and I ask a student to write it on the board for their guide (Ex. Do Pentatone - D R M S L). I ask them to write down one pitch below each syllable in each of the words and afterwards I check if their syllabication is correct and if they have not forgotten to assign a tone for each of the syllables.

The best part is when a student finishes, he/she gets a merit or an applause from the class. I then start to play his/her composition while the rest of the class are doing work and listening as I play on the piano. I just assign a nice sounding chord as I play the composition and afterwards sing the quotation while I play....and this is when they would start to work really quick because each of them wants their composition played in the class!

This takes 2 weeks maximum to finish their composition because after I play each of the compositions, we still have to notate them on the staff to make it really look like an original composition. We compile or we display it afterwards. I also usually ask them to vote for the best ones they would be listening to and I give prizes. The students love this activity.


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This is a great lesson. I like composing, ad this is a key.