Composing With Kids eBook

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  • TM

    An Elementary Piano Library

    Composing with KidsComposing with Kids

    Written and Illustrated by Andrew Fling

    Five Recipes for Success

  • About this EditionComposing music is a lot like baking cookies. If you want to bake a certain type of cookie, you have to include a certain set of ingredients. The same is true with composing music.

    In this edition students will be given five "recipes" to help them get started with composing pieces with a variety of flavors. The projects require no understanding of music theory, with the exception of a few basic piano reading/performance skills.

    Lets Compose!

  • TMComposing with KidsFive Recipes for Success

    An Elementary Piano Library

    First EditionCopyright 2013

    All Rights Reserved

    Written and Illustrated by Andrew Fling

  • RecipeHot Cross Buns Remix

    So many songs that we enjoy are simply a scrambled up version of another popular song. These songs have the same ingredients, but theyre put togther in a different way. With this first composing activity all you have to do is take the ingredients of Hot Cross Buns and mix them up in a different way to make your own piece. Easy!

    IngredientsQuarter NotesHalf NotesWhole Notes8 Measures LongTwo Chords: C (C-E-G) and G (G-B-D)3 two measure phrases that are exactly the same1 two measure phrase is different

    DirectionsMix these ingredients up in a different way. Change the melody notes. Give the melody notes a new rhythm. Write it down. Perform for parents, teachers, music classroom, or upcoming recital.

    Here's Hot Cross Buns...









  • RecipeWalk Like an Egyptian

    Write a piece with the Egyptian sound using the Egyptian Scale (C-D-Eb-F#-G-Ab-B-C).

    IngredientsEighth NotesQuarter NotesHalf NotesWhole Notes (sparingly)24 Measures (ABA Form/8 Measures per Section)Ostinato Accompaniment ThroughoutEgyptian Scale (C-D-Eb-F#-G-Ab-B-C)

    DirectionsBuild a new composition based on this scale and ostinato. Top with brilliant notation and serve to happy parents. Students can use left hand piano part suggested below, and then add a cool Egyptian scale melody over top. Delicious!

    Note for TeachersIf students are writing eighth notes, it's best to switch to quarter notes only in the left hand for those measures. It will sound better, and it will be far more playable.

    Here are the ostinatos that youll use for the A sections and B sections of your piece...


    A Section Ostinato

    B Section Ostinato


  • RecipeSurprise Inside

    Write a melody that introduces a surprising new note late in the eight measure structure.

    Lets take a look at Yankee Doodle as an example. It begins with a very limited range of notes (C-D-E). After a little while the melody expands to include low B and G. The real surprise, though, happens in measure six with the introduction of the F. Its played rather quickly, but provides a wonderful moment of refreshment to the melody.

    IngredientsEighth NotesQuarter NotesHalf NotesEight Measures in 2/4 or 4/4 MeterMelody using only C-D-E-F#-G-A-B (or fewer notes)Key of C

    DirectionsThe ingredients for your composition are very similar to the ingredients for Yankee Doodle, so get to know Yankee Doodle a little by playing it on the piano. You might be able to use one of the 3-4 note combinations in your piece. Your Surprise Inside will be an F#, giving your piece a Lydian sound. That note should be introduced in your melody in measure 5 or 6. Decorate your music with colored pencil confetti!

    Yankee Doodle



  • RecipeOstinato, Ostinato, Ostinato

    This lesson makes use of an ostinato (repeated musical phrase) for the accompaniment, and the Dorian scale for added color.

    IngredientsEighth NotesQuarter NotesHalf NotesWhole Notes (sparingly)

    DirectionsWrite an eight to sixteen measure piece. Use the following ostinato in each measure of the bass clef, and the D Dorian scale for the melody. Begin your melody with A, and end it with D. Practice and perform.

    Here is the ostinato and dorian scale for your piece...



    D Dorian Scale


  • RecipeRagtime Mix-n-Match

    This lesson provides kids with a perfect-every-time approach to composing. Student cuts out pre-written ragtime phrases, and combines them in a way that sounds pleasing to them.

    IngredientsPre-Written Musical Phrases

    DirectionsCut out all of the pre-written musical phrases. Teacher performs each ragtime phrase. Student begins by labeling all potential beginning phrases with a #1, and all potential ending phrases with a #4. Next, select two middle phrases to complete an eight measure phrase. (Some identical phrase have been included, should the student decide to include certain phrases twice.) Tape the pieces together. Practice. Serve to happy parents!




    # n

    w #


    Mix-n-Match Phrases

  • # #


    # n w

    J j








    My Rag







  • About the AuthorAndrew Fling (pictured with his wife Tricia) is a graduate of Arizona State University with a Bachelors Degree in Music Theory and Composition, graduate studies in Music Theory and Composition and K-12 Music Education. He has been teaching music, band,

    and choir to elementary aged children in Arizona since 1992. He is also the creator/owner of the

    popular educational website,

    which offers free sheet music, composer biographies,

    worksheets and music theory arcade games to

    educators and music enthusiasts.

  • Composing with KidsFive Recipes for Success

    An MMF! Elementary Piano Library ResourceWritten and Illustrated by Andrew Fling

    The Elementary Piano Library o!ers two graded lesson books and many supplemental resources that are

    smartly designed to provide students with a highly successful and satisfying musical experience.

    Visit for more creative resources for elementary music education.