Top 6 websites: music composition resources
Finding decent resources for teaching GCSE music composition can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. So, I’ve put together a list of places (in no particular order) where you can find some inspiration and ideas for your composition lessons.
Most music teachers are familiar with the organisation, Musical Futures. The practical approach emphasises real-world learning and uses methods employed by popular musicians and community practitioners. You can sign up to their website to access both free and premium resources, such as: free songwriting guide, guide to teaching minimalism and guide to large group composition – very useful for both KS3 and GCSE composition!
Tiffin School in London, have a wide range of excellent resources on their website. The music department have certainly been very busy! Here you can find several helpful guides for GCSE Music composition, from “Composing in 10 steps” to “Theme and Variations” and “Songwriting”. What is really useful here is that there’s a section called “Model GCSE compositions” with scores and audio files of exemplar pieces for students to refer to – brilliant!
Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG) runs a project in primary schools called, That’s my music. On their site is a helpful resource on composition warm-up games such as ‘Long and short’ and ‘Car Park’ (children imagine their long sounds is a lorry, short sound is a car and the silent space is the car park…!) If you’re in need of new ideas for warm-ups or want to explore their other learning resources, click on this link.
This award-winning website is dedicated to GCSE and A level (and equivalent) composition. There’s a Teachers’ Area providing time-saving classroom resources such as homework packs and cover lessons. The unique feature of this site, however, are the specialised online courses in different aspects of composition. For each course, a piece is specially composed and then broken down lesson by lesson, enabling the student to follow the compositional process. Some are free and for the more in-depth courses there’s a fee. Better still, you can sign up to an access plan and get everything on the site for 12 months.
If you have students who are keen to compose for choir, then the ORA singers’ new resource, composer-create covers everything from how to get started, choosing text, to listening materials and singers’ hints. This is all aimed at aspiring young choral composers, particularly those who wish to enter the ORA singers composition competition, which includes a mentoring opportunity for 10 emerging choral composers. Even if you’re not planning on entering the competition, there is some great material here, all beautifully presented.
The Royal Opera House runs an annual fanfare competition for students, and as part of this, offers some great resources to help participants get started. There’s an excellent fanfare motif bank, which includes audio clips and score snippets; guidance on running your own fanfare competition in school and useful information on how to structure a fanfare, including exemplar fanfare material.