ASMTA Conference 2015: Apps to Spark Creativity and Composition

Apps, Conference

This isn’t deja vu. Yesterday I put the wrong title with the post. That one was Teaching the Mobile Generation with Today’s Hottest Apps. (The title has been corrected, thanks Leila for catching that!)

Now for Apps to spark creativity and composition!

She opens with this quote by Sir Ken Robinson (you can see the TED talk here), “Creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.”IMG_7084Steal (Borrow) Like an Artist. “Good artists copy; great artists steal.” (Picasso)

I have learned that there are VERY few truly original ideas anymore. If you thought of it, chances are pretty high someone else in the world has too or something very similar. When it comes to composition Leila encourages students to borrow ideas from the pros, current repertoire, 12-bar blues, Heart and Soul and more! What else  can you borrow from?

When borrowing composition ideas… It’s good to follow their lead, change it up- make it our own (remember we are taking “ideas” to spark the creativity and composition), transpose it.

Are your students having a hard time getting started? There are a lot of great “jumpstart” activities out there on blogs in regards to composition. Leila mentions Wendy Stevens, Joy Morin, Kristin Jensen and Susan Paradis (and don’t forget Leila’s blog too!) for some composition starter ideas.


Leila shared a few rules for Jumpstarting.

1) Structure is key

2) Intro ABA Coda

3) Keep it appealing

4) Set Limits

There are a lot of apps that can help jumpstart the creativity and composition process. Look for apps/online resources that can create Melody, Harmony, Rhythm and Notation. (i.e.: Piano Maestro, NoteStar, Orphion, iReal Pro, Garage Band, Tin Pan Rhythm, Hook Theory, Supermetronome Groovebox, SpeakBeat, My Rhythm, Notion, MuseScore, Noteflight, Symphony Pro. The list can go on and on… You can find most of those links here.)

“Everything is a remix- so steal like an artist”

Rules for Melody-

  • Pentatonic Scale
  • Motive, Repetition, Sequence…
  • Questions and Answers
  • Create in Pairs of 2, 4 and 8
  • Imitate a Master
  • Make it simple

Rules for harmony-

  • Stick with primary chords first
  • Borrow tried and true progressions
  • Use a diatonic pallet
  • Listen for bass line
  • Experiment with color chords
  • Aquire with back pocket tips and tricks

Rules for Rhythm

  • Keep a steady beat
  • Stick with one time signature
  • Choose a favorite rhythm and repeat

Rules for Notation-

  • Compose what you can notate
  • Avoid composing while notating
  • Aim for 4 measures per line
  • Details matter

Some other wisdom from Leila…

  • The more you dig and explore the more ideas you will get.
  • Fake it till you make it.
  • All Rules are meant to be broken but don’t break the rules without a very good reason.
  • And remember to showcase those compositions!

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