Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Inspire students to create a composition studio

 As I wrote about my writing journey today, I recognized the need to update my composition studio. And as that thought filled my mind, I realized how important it is for writing teachers to help students create a modern day composition studio both in real time and online. What does this studio include, and why is this important? 

To compose is a journey

As all composers know, it is a journey to write, make film, craft musical scores, and publish podcasts. You get better over time, and it is the rich repertoire of work you do that informs later work. That is why it is integral to create online and real-time composition spaces that include the work you've done and the tools you use to compose. 


No matter what you compose, whether it be poetry, stories, essays, musical lyrics, podcast interviews, or film, images matter. Images are rich resources of ideas, understanding, and share. Every composer needs a collection of images. For me, I'll start with figuring out how to combine my image collection from my phone and online to create a personal image gallery to use as a rich resource for future compositions. I'll figure out ways to organize that image library too. For writing students, it's a good idea to help them create image files they can refer to as resources for inspiration and content for their compositions. 


Music inspires our creativity in countless ways. Music also helps us tell our stories and express our truth. It is in the best interest of every composer to create and save playlists of vital musical pieces to add richness to the composition work they do. Similarly, with regard to both images and music, is to understand copyright laws and practices. That is something I need to study more. If possible, creating files of your own music and images helps in this regard. Students can be encouraged to record the songs they play and music they create to use in their compositions. 


Both written and spoken words should be stored in readily accessible places. As students compose, they will likely use similar ideas over and over again. They will grow their ideas and better their stories in countless ways. To be able to readily access the words they've spoken and written is a great advantage for any composer. 

Artifacts, Tools, and Creative Spaces

Every composer has a collection of artifacts and tools that support their composition work. They also have preferred creative spaces. Ask students to share their ideas related to this with questions such as:

  • What tools make your compositions better?
  • What artifacts inspire your creativity?
  • What spaces inspire your best creativity?
For me, tools that inspire my compositions and make them better include a great lap top, good head phones, a blogging spot, image files, playlists, movie-making software. Old photos, beautiful flowers, natural scenes, favorite books, wonderful art, and beautiful music. And as for creative space, light is critical for me. Comfort and simplicity matter too. 

Composition Studio

To add all of these elements together is to create both online and real time composition studios. Students may use these studios for invention and innovation too as there is great overlap with composition and creativity of all kinds. 

Beautiful flowers are a source of inspiration for my compositions. 

To truly inspire and teach students to compose well, you have to give them the opportunity to create their own creative studios. You also have to give them time to write, and avenues to share their writing with audiences that matter to them. 

Let your students lead their own composing by answering these questions:
  • What composition genre is your favorite? Is it writing, drawing, music, movie-making, podcasts?
  • What do you most like to think about, create about?
  • What audiences do you prefer creating for? 
  • Why do you compose?
  • What are the ideal objects for your real-time composition studio?  
  • What is your ideal online composition studio like?
  • What do you need to become a better composer? 
  • Where do you best like to compose?
  • Do you create better on your own or with others? What is the right mix of individual time and group time for your ideal compositions?
  • What can I do to help you reach your composition goals?
To teach writing and composition is to immerse students into this craft in organic, meaningful, personal ways, and when you do this you provide students with awesome paths to bright futures.