General Thoughts -
Before there was even a thought of creating a book, these stories were being used to captivate the imagination of and spark the creativity of mystudents. Each week's story was purposely kept short enough that it could be retold without eating up too much of the precious teaching time that we educators have.
Teachers have the option to read a chapter to their students, memorize at least the highlights and retell the story, or assign the story to be read, either by the student or their parents.
The composition assignments can be started with the student or simply discussed in class and finished at home. The age and ability of the student will determine the best way to progress through the book. Younger, less experienced children will require more assistance.
How to Help Students Compose -
Rule #1 - If they like it, you do too. In fact, you love it.
Rule #2 - Don't help them more than they need. It can be easy to want to offer suggestions, sometimes inadvertently composing for them. Generally, the less you influence their ears the better.
Rule #3 - It's ok to help them write rhythms. Often a student will come up with a dotted quarter - eighth rhythm or other syncopations long before they approach them in the method books. It is absolutely ok to help them write the rhythm that they hear in their heads or play with their instrument.
Rule #4 - The Dragon Quest gives specific note choices for 19 different instruments. These notes were chosen for their playability and also because they help convey the character of the piece that is to be composed. However, composition is all about creativity. If students have different ideas, they are free to use different notes.
The same advice holds true for The Fear Worms.
Soundtrack the Story -
Have your students act out, play and or sing their compositions at the appropriate places in the story, such as:
The Overture -
The story in the overture could be used at the first lesson with a new student. Students become the apprentice right away. It is a magical way to engage them and get them thinking about the powerful effect music has on us. Then, wait until they are ready, and proceed with The Dragon Quest. If you choose to to this, is recommended to tell this part of the story from memory.
The Troll Song -
Encourage the student to sing in their best troll voice while limping around like a troll.
Playing the Water Song-
Piano students have an especially good opportunity to soundtrack this piece. As the water comes down the mountain and grows deeper and fuller, have the student play their composition in the highest octave and move lower with every repeat.
The Dragon Egg - Highly Recommended!
A "crack your own" geode makes an excellent dragon egg! Using a geode puts an exciting punctuation on the dragon quest and is a physical reminder of their accomplishment.
Read the short chapter "The Dragon Egg" with the student. When you get to the sentence "Your fingers wrap around what feels like a bumpy, round rock and you pull it out of the bag," present a geode to the student.
You can then finish reading the chapter and have a good discussion about the smart practice guidelines on the following page.
The next week, if they are ready, ask if you can hold their geode while they play. Read the chapter "The End - For Now" with the student pausing in the appropriate places to let them play their compositions. After they play each piece well, hold the geode up to their ear and scratch it with your thumb nail and ask the student if they can hear it cracking. Some of the looks you get will be priceless!
When they finish playing their fanfare, take the geode outside and open it and present it to the student. Most children have never opened a geode before and many will be amazed!
A Fear Worms Tooth -
After completing The Fear Worms, you may choose to give the student a shark's tooth as a reward for their accomplishments. Fear worms are large, illusory creatures with rows of razor sharp teeth. After the fear worms are vanquished, the student finds a fear worm tooth in the sand. A shark's tooth will do nicely.
Post Videos -
Many kids are enthralled with the idea of being on the internet. Let them show off their compositions on the Music Composition Adventures Facebook page here. (Be sure to get their parents permission first.)
Looking For More Ideas or Have an Idea You'd Like to Share? -
We love hearing suggestions on how to use Music Composition Adventures. You can leave one for us here, or join a community of teachers on our Facebook page here to ask a question, post an idea of your own, or see what great ideas other teachers have come up with!
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