Grade 8 Music students have just finished their first unit focussed on composition. Composing music is an important part of the music curriculum, it is a requirement for the MYP and DP programmes of the International Baccalaureate (along with analyzing and performing music).
For their summative assessment, students had to apply what they learned in the unit to create three shorter pieces of music and one longer one. Subsequently, one composition from each student was shared in class so they could all hear what their peers had created.
High Quality Learning in Action
This exercise directly relates to HQL at the FIS because it is creative (the students have to think of music to write down) and integrates plenty of critical thinking (working with music theory is very challenging and requires students to hold in their minds a lot of information at once in order to make musical decisions). The process of creating these compositions starts with an intention. What do the students want the audience to think, feel, or do?
Examples of Student Work
Below are some of the individual student compositions, and this is representative of the forethought, depth of knowledge, and creative reflection all the students have engaged in:
“The piece by Lila Jones is about walking through a field. She has captured a sense of tranquility and peace in her music.” (Listen to Lila’s composition below)
“Lia Runkel holds an advanced composition in which she tried to represent the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) in the musical form of ‘theme and variations’. That means that she uses the same theme five times but changes it slightly or uses different backgrounds to show it going through these stages.” (Listen to Lia’s composition below)
“Valentina Vesselinov’s initial idea was to try to represent the Ukrainian war through music, with the melody getting higher to represent hope as the world shows its support, but then the melody going lower to represent setbacks. She decided later on that she didn’t feel she’d accomplished that particular intention, but still, the piece has a somber effect (minor chords) broken up by moments of hope (major chords).” (Listen to Valentina’s composition below)
The students have learned to express themselves and write out music. There is a large amount of information that goes into this, such as learning how to write a melody, learning about chord progressions, and then trying to put those elements together.
The whole class delivered exceptional work and I am astounded at how well it turned out. These students in their very first composition assessment have outdone themselves by leaps and bounds. I am extremely proud of them and feel immense happiness in sharing about their work.