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.

1. Musical Futures

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!

2. Tiffin School Music Department

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!

3. Birmingham Contemporary music Group (BCMG)

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.

4. I Can Compose

This award-winning website is dedicated to secondary level composition. All the resources and online courses can be purchased individually but for best value the Teacher Access Plan gives 12 months’ access to everything on the site. The specialised composing courses include a model composition which is broken down lesson by lesson enabling the student to follow the compositional process. Sign up to a free course to try out the format and style or check the detailed summary for a free taster lesson in each premium course.

5. ORA singers: Composer-create

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.

6. Berkeley Ensemble

The Berkeley Ensemble was founded in 2008 and seeks to perform contemporary chamber music, particularly by British composers.  Away from the concert platform, it works tirelessly to foster the creation, appreciation and performance of chamber music at every age, level and ability.

The Berkeley Ensemble education programme and associated online resources, is designed to assist Key Stage 4 classroom music teachers, combining a searchable video library with optional bespoke and interactive online live events.  Pre-recorded video content is arranged in four strands, all with a unique chamber music focus.  Well worth a look and the content is currently free.

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