Two and a half years ago the I Can Compose website went live. As a secondary classroom music teacher in the UK, I had a particular passion for delivering composing lessons and helping students create their own music. No composing lesson is ever the same – what you plan for one class might end up going in a completely different direction with another group. I thrive on that variety and creativity.
Searching for resources to enhance my lesson plans, I found that there was a lack of any quality materials to help students and teachers with composing music. So I set up the kind of website my 15 year old self (and slightly older teacher self!) would have loved: friendly, detailed online courses with plenty of clear examples and exciting musical examples to listen to. Although we launched with just a handful of courses, the website evolved quickly to include a dedicated Teachers’ Area and an increased offering of courses for students.
After just five months I was thrilled to win the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs and shortly after, the Outstanding Music Education Product in the 2019 Music Teacher Awards for Excellence. These accolades reflect the unique platform that brings high-quality composing resources to students and teachers.
Support for distance learning
In March 2020, when the world went into lockdown and schools moved to online learning across the globe, I wanted to support teachers and students suddenly faced with teaching and learning from home. In just three weeks, over 7,000 free courses were given away from Egypt to Florida, New Zealand to Switzerland, to provide guidance for students composing at home.
The I Can Compose mission is to inspire and educate the next generation of great composers and this underpins everything I do. I’m excited about what’s coming next in 2021 and beyond (see below).
This year I have been working on a new book: How to teach composition in the secondary classroom: 50 inspiring ideas will be published by HarperCollins in May 2021 and is available to order now.
The I Can Compose Story through interviews and media
In this post I’ve collated some interviews and articles that really tell the story of I Can Compose.
Sunday Times Style Magazine Podcast intervew: Secrets of the Side Hustle
During the summer it was exciting to be interviewed by Scarlet Russell for my first ever podcast – the Sunday Times Style Magazine Podcast – Secrets of the Side Hustle. Given that the UK had just come out of lockdown #1 and I’d been home-schooling my two children for four months, it felt like an opportunity to get re-energised about I Can Compose. We discussed women in business, disability, music education and much more!
Music:Ed is a global community bringing together all the strands of music education into one place. As a new venture, it was fantastic to have the support of Music:Ed, who showcased the website and published an article about I Can Compose.
Presenting is something I really enjoy, because it gives me a platform for inspiring others and sharing ideas. Since launching I Can Compose I have been invited to present sessions and workshops at a number of conferences and events including: Music and Drama Education Expo; Music Teachers' Association Conferences and Leeds Music Education Partnership Annual Conference.
2021 – 2022 saw the first in-person I Can Compose teacher training events – Composing with Intention was a full day of practical CPD for secondary music teachers in London and Manchester. Sponsored by Dorico, the sessions offered practical and versatile ideas for approaching composing and encouraged teachers to try out the activities themselves in a music department environment.
My sessions are always practical and classroom-focussed so that teachers can take away ideas and approaches to use straight away at school.