How to run a Composer of the Week series
Running a Composer of the week series in your school is a great way of introducing your pupils to new composers and broadening their listening experience. It also encourages and inspires students to get composing themselves. In this post we explore ways to successfully facilitate a Composer of the Week initiative with maximum impact…
Composer of the week display board
Do you have space in your music department/classroom/hall for a Composer of the week board?
This gives a focus point for the series and gives you a place to collate all the information. Decide what kind of information you want to show (facts/pictures/scores etc) on the board and get creative! Better still, if you can get some pupils involved updating the board, it saves you time and gives them ownership over the project. You could make this board interactive by leaving space for students to put up features of the composer’s style or their thoughts on a particular piece of music. This works particularly well if the board is in your classroom and can be used as part of the lesson.
Examples of a Composer of the Week display board
Getting pupils involved is key to Composer of the Week being successful. Ask a group of reliable pupils to be in charge of updating the board each week. Give them a set of documents that they need to put up each week, for example pictures of the composer, interesting facts list of pieces they composed, other composers they were influenced by / around at the same time.
If you’re going to have a PowerPoint display for assembly, why not ask a group of pupils to be responsible for creating the presentation each week. They could meet before school or at lunchtime and after a few weeks become self-sufficient. Pupils could be awarded merits/prize or equivalent. Just make sure you check it before it goes on display.
Inform pupils of next week’s composer and ask them to find one piece over the weekend and report back to the class.
Why not nominate a pupil as composer of the week?
Alongside the ‘professional’ composers, why not choose a pupil composer of the week/month from within school? Winners of this accolade could win a musical prize and be featured on the school website. Perhaps they could be filmed performing their composition or have it played in assembly.
Getting staff involved
If you want this to be a whole-school initiative here are some ways to get your colleagues on board:
- At the end of each week email all staff with details of next weeks’ composer and suggested pieces. Some teachers might want to use the music as a discussion point with pupils, or for settling down / tidying up music etc
- To make it easy for staff to play the music, you could set up a school Spotify account and give the details to colleagues.All they need to do is log-in and find the relevant playlist.
- Ask staff for their favourite composer and include a profile on the Composer of the week board – pupils will be interested to find out about their teachers’ musical tastes!
Getting the word out there
Does your music department / school have a twitter account? Why not share a picture of your composer of the week board or an unusual fact that a pupil has found? This gives parents and pupils the opportunity to interact with the project and inspire other teachers to follow your lead!
Most schools send out regular newsletters. This is a great chance to share Composer of the week with parents and might encourage musical discussion at home, particularly if you’re asking pupils to find music to listen to and bring in to school.
Opportunities to play music in the school day
Whether you’re teaching in a primary or secondary school, there are plenty of opportunities to play music during the school day. Here are some ideas:
Play appropriate music as pupils walk in and out of assembly. You can choose something calm to encourage a quiet entrance and sensible behaviour. The PowerPoint (hopefully made by pupils) can be displayed as a focus point.
Music could be played quietly in the reception area for visitors to listen to whilst waiting. If there is an electronic screen showcasing the school’s news and events, Composer of the weekcould feature as a slide.
To encourage a calm atmosphere, music could be played in the cafeteria whilst pupils are eating and queuing up.
Breakfast / after-school club
Make sure whoever runs these groups are aware of Composer of the week. They could discuss the composer and listen to some of the music or have it on in the background whilst children are playing / working.
If lesson changeover can be a bit manic and there is the facility to play music in the corridors, try playing some appropriate music to encourage walking and orderly manners.
For indoor PE, teachers may wish to use some of the music either within the lesson itself or a fast tempo number for encouraging children to get changed quickly.
When pupils enter the classroom each morning, have a piece playing and give each pupil a post-it note. They each have to write why they like or dislike the music, or write one thing they have noticed about the music.
At the end of the year why not get the whole school to vote for their favourite composer!
Want to try it?
If you’re inspired to run a Composer of the Week series in your school but don’t have the time to find all the music and information, why not download our Composer of the Week resource pack? There are 20 featured composers with 6 selected pieces, Spotify links, duration and mood description to make it hassle-free!