The idea was that the Composers' Union was a company that contracted out its employees to various other companies who needed new and original musical compositions. I conducted this class or unit as if it was a real company. The children needed to apply for the job. They needed recommendations from "former employers" (teachers, parents, etc). They had to create a resume of their former musical experiences including any school experiences, private lessons, or musical activities they had participated in. They received a welcome letter from the CEO of the company.
The class was designed to give them opportunities to compose songs and other musical composition based on whatever level they could do this. There were many options given to them. The more options, the better. They got a letter from the payroll department on the first day of class giving them the guidelines for their composition based on the work they completed during their stay with the company.
Class description: Change roles for a while and be a composer. As a member of HCU, the Highmeadow Composers' Union, you will be contracted out to different companies who need your musical genius. You will use computer technology, keyboards, and other musical instruments to perform your tasks. At the end of the class you will have produced a CD of music written and performed by YOU!
Children are very creative. They have lived with music all of their lives. They can create wonderful pieces. The degree to which I expected musical correctness was based completely on the level of each student. A student who had 3 years of private piano lessons was expected to understand notation and to be accurate if they composed a piano piece. If a student with only 1 year of private lessons tried to write a piano composition, then my expectations were less. IMPORTANT: Since I had the resumes ahead of time, I could create jobs based on what my students were capable of doing.
My students already were acquainted with music notation software and had some experience with using it. But certainly it is not necessary for creating music. You as the teacher have to make that decision. I had computers in my music room and had Finale Notepad installed on them. Notepad is a free beginning notation program from Finale. It is available here to download: http://www.finalemusic.com/products/finale-notepad/
My students were required to create, publish, and record each piece of music they created for this class.
Here are the documents I created for this class. Feel free to adapt them for your own needs.
** When you look at the sample job descriptions, remember that I created these based on the skills I knew my students had. You will have to create your own job descriptions based on what your students or children can do. For younger children, these could all be songs they create or simple instrumental pieces on whatever instruments you have at your disposal. I had my students publish their music so they would have written copies. That was in my curriculum so it was required at my school. You do not have to do that. Adapt this to your needs and desires. It is first and foremost a chance for children to create music. The creative process is only effective when you work at whatever level the children are capable of doing. And it needs to be FUN!
EMPLOYEE RECOMMENDATION FORM: (I used this same form to write my final evaluation of each student at the end of the class)
(4) Top Employees earn $400.00 and above