Ideas to teach composition to beginners

Sadly, many teachers neglect to teach basic composition skills. Even many intermediate/ early advanced students struggle to compose basic musical pieces. As a piano teacher in Sutton and online, I teach all students composition.


Learning basic composition improves notation skills, music theory, musicality, aural skills and creates a well-rounded musician.


Especially for transfer students, I am surprised that some (having taken lessons for a few years with another studio/ teacher), cannot explain to me even the basics:

Melody, harmony, time signature, key signature, chords, A/B structure, major/ minor, dynamics! These are the key basics.

In my piano lessons in Sutton and online, I generally teach composition to beginners using some of the below tactics. Here are a few ideas for you if you are considering beginning to teach composition.


What is the theme?

Major vs minor vs melodic progression. Dance vs lyrical song vs film accompaniment.


What is the musical structure?

A-B-A vs A-B-B vs A-B-C. Time signature of 4 or 3 beats in a bar.


What is the melody and harmony?

Call and response functions. RH vs LH melody. Blocked vs broken chords. 1-5-6-4 vs 6-4-1-5 vs 1-6-4-5 basic chord progressions.


What additionals?

Dynamics and gradation of tone. Articulation. Repeats. Scale and arpeggio runs. Tempo and tempo changes. Performance directions.