Pop music composition starters – buy my new book!

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“Pop Music Composition Starters” is eleven lesson plans that use the history of American popular music as a backbone to teach composition skills to your secondary music students.

These lessons are tried and true tools to get every student in your music class creating in a way they never thought they could do before. The best part is it’s not a complete curriculum – it can be picked apart and done in any order to enhance what you already have in place.

Students will learn how to write melodies and lyrics, use harmonic progressions, perform accompaniments on multiple instruments, record, and edit sound using popular styles from the past and the present.

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Some lessons require computers and software while others simply require paper and pencil. Some lessons use instruments such as keyboard and guitar while others can be done without instruments at all. Use what you can, adapt what you can, and save the rest for when you can fit it in.

These lessons are the heart of the presentation I’ve written for the National Association for Music Education convention in Grapevine, Texas this November. Being from New York State, the trip to Dallas is going to be expensive. This book is a great opportunity to offer my curriculum for sale to raise some money to defray the cost of the trip and share these lessons with your students.

These lesson plans feature reproducible handouts and step-by-step instructions for each of the pop music compositions I will discuss at the conference. Here’s a full list:

  • Folk Music Lyrics Composition
  • Blues Melody and Lyrics Composition
  • Blues Keyboard Melody Improvisation
  • Rockabilly Guitar Accompaniment Composition
  • Rhythm and Blues Keyboard Accompaniment Improvisation
  • 50s Rock Guitar Accompaniment Composition
  • 70s Bass Line Keyboard Improvisation
  • Rap Introduction Composition
  • 80s Drum Beat Improvisation
  • Sampling Composition
  • Remix Composition

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If you’re not interested in purchasing the lesson plans, you can make a donation of any amount to my trip if you’d like. Thank you so much for your help and support.

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Pop music composition starters – buy my new book!

I’m presenting at the 2015 NYSSMA Winter Conference

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I’m excited to announce I will be presenting a session at the New York State School Music Association Winter Conference this December. My session titled “Popular music composition starters for your classroom” will give music teachers a chance to add composition to their curriculum in a fun, accessible way for students.

This session will provide insight into how I use composition with my 8th grade general music classes within the framework of my American Popular Music curriculum. Students create their own folk songs, blues, rockabilly songs, rhythm and blues, 70s bass lines, raps and other compositions in my class now it’s your turn to use it with your students.

The best part of all of these composition projects is that they reinforce everything else we are doing in my classes. They help my students practice performing without drilling and killing. We get to listen to musical examples with a purpose and discuss key points from the music that they also need to include. And we are creating, performing, and responding around the same unified topic. It’s a win all around!

If you would like to attend, it will be from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m. on Friday, December 4th in Rochester, NY. Here is the NYSSMA website.

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I’m presenting at the 2015 NYSSMA Winter Conference

I’m on the NAFME Council for Music Composition

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I have news to share with everyone. This year I’ll be joining the NAFME Council for Music Education as a Member-At-Large.

NAFME, the National Association for Music Education, has several councils or subcommittees within the organization to help set the direction in areas like Jazz Education and Collegiate Advisory in addition to topics such as Music Composition and Band Education.

“The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Council for Music Composition seeks to promote and improve the teaching of music composition in school settings,” says our group’s description on the website.

The mission:

– To provide resources and opportunities that enhance the teaching and learning of music composition at all grade levels and in all music education content areas;
– To work with the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) divisions and state affiliates to encourage the development of division and state composition programs and festivals;
– To advocate for the importance of composition as an essential component of all students’ music education.;
– To support music education research in the field of composition.

I am looking forward to the opportunity to share my views on both popular music as well as music technology to the group, NAFME leadership, and the entire NAFME membership. Here’s a full list of the Council members I’ll be working with in 2015-2016.

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I’m on the NAFME Council for Music Composition