The Composition Project 

The Action Research Question

In what ways does the development of comprehensive musicianship skills through working continuously
with a composer in a collaborative learning model impact our students' creativity and classroom
engagement?

How did it come about? 

In June of 2019, the school division I work for was providing opportunities for teachers, parents and community members to submit proposals to the board of trustees for a Classroom Practice Innovation Project (CPIP).  Having an idea for a project that focused on providing beginner band students with the opportunity to expand their understanding of the discipline of music through collaboratively working with a Canadian Composer, I decided to apply. Although at first read, it might sound like a simple and straight forward idea, the truth was, the more I played with the idea, the more it became clear that no teacher or school had tried to collaborative compose pieces with 120 beginner band students.  

After many months of reading different literature, it led to the drafting of the official  CPIP grant proposal,  I received word that my proposal was one of 6 Classroom Practice Innovation Projects that was approved by the board of trustees. It was on November 28, 2019,  that I received the news that my proposal was accepted and my school was being granted $6, 000 to run the Composition Project from 2019-2021.  From that month onward, I began the exciting adventure of leading a collaborative team in making The Composition Project come to life.  The amount of learning and community building that is happening as a result of this action research project has been incredible and we are only 1/3 of the way through the project.

 

On this page, you will find more information on the Composition Project thus far.
 


 

Project Description

This project is designed to create engaging learning experiences for beginner band students by working with a Canadian composer and their teachers to collaboratively compose and perform pieces. In mandatory beginner band, it can be a challenge for students to build comprehensive musicianship skills while being creative during the music making. This is largely due to students having to develop
new skills such as playing an instrument, reading notes and writing music notation. Over the course of this project, students will have the opportunity to create compositions, learn musicianship skills,
collaborate with others and learn music in a relatable historical and interpretive context. This project will cover a wide variety of outcomes while providing students exposure to different music fields. When collaboratively composing the pieces, students will be given flexible parameters to create and make music that work within the beginner band curriculum and are appropriate for students current skill levels. Specifically, musical forms, instrument ranges, and tonal centers will be determined by the collaborative team for each composition and given to students to provide a starting point and framework for their own compositions. Each composition will be commissioned and will have two separate copies of the piece. The first copy, will be the framework, skeleton, or incomplete piece where students, teachers and the composer will finish creating the composition together adding dynamics, phrasing, a title and creating the story for the piece. The second copy of the same piece will be the composer original thought or idea that she completed on her own before collaborating or meeting the students. This will provide opportunities to explore how different groups of people create, express, and interpret music differently. It will also provide students with discussions and hands on learning regarding how a professional composer thinks about, creates, and makes music. Unlike traditional school band practices where students get to interact or work with a composer or clinician once at select times during the school year, this project will allow for regular and ongoing contact with a composer to learn the discipline of music and how it is approached in the real world.

The Composition Project: Alignment with the Alberta Learning Framework.

The Alberta Education Competencies Overview document states that, “Students use and develop competencies when they encounter unfamiliar or challenging situations. Competencies help students draw and build upon what they know, how they think and what
they can do. In school, students develop and apply competencies through subject-area content and learning experiences.” (Alberta Education, 2016) The proposed project has multiple entry points for subject-area content and discipline-specific learning experiences. Through asking students to participate in the unfamiliar situations of collaboratively composing pieces, students will be asked to “…draw and build upon what they know, how they think and what they can do” resulting in the individual and collective development of Alberta Education Competencies. For further insights into the project, the 8 competencies outlined by Alberta Education will be broken down. Click the button below for the specific break down. 

Research/ Literature Overview

For the sake of providing cohesion and clarity, the literature overview has been divided into three distinct sections as they relate to the action research question and proposed project. The first section will address creativity, collaboration, and the development of comprehensive musicianship skills. While the second, will explore musical fields and engagement. The last section will provide final thoughts on our hopes and desires to pursue this project and action research as it relates to the literature in review. Click the button below to see the research/literature overview. 

Data Analysis and Overview 

The Alberta Education Competencies Overview document states that, “Students use and develop competencies when they encounter unfamiliar or challenging situations. Competencies help students draw and build upon what they know, how they think and what
they can do. In school, students develop and apply competencies through subject-area content and learning experiences.” (Alberta Education, 2016) The proposed project has multiple entry points for subject-area content and discipline-specific learning experiences. Through asking students to participate in the unfamiliar situations of collaboratively composing pieces, students will be asked to “…draw and build upon what they know, how they think and what they can do” resulting in the individual and collective development of Alberta Education Competencies. For further insights into the project, the 8 competencies outlined by Alberta Education will be broken down. Click the button below for the specific break down. 

Integration of Technology

This project requires ongoing extensive use of technology. Some of the apps we have used thus far in the classroom for this project include Skype, Google Classroom, Flip Grid and Seesaw.  I have also integrated the composition project into our band website to allow the project to be shared with stakeholders. Click the button below to see the band website I designed. 

Information on some of our findings is coming soon...
Due to Covid19, we are currently adjusting some aspects of the project to allow for it to continue. The current circumstances have been requiring creativity and large amount of technology to be integrated in new ways. More info to come..

© 2020 Katelyn Jardine