Why not give composing a try? I did. For the most part, you don’t need a degree in composition, but a Theory background helps things along with voice leading in the bass part and understanding the rules of notation. Above all, intuition and inspiration are the main ingredients in any creative undertaking.
In 1985 I tried my hand at composing as my six children were falling off to sleep in their bedrooms. This exploration synchronized with my students having inspired Piano Duets By and For Children with my Introduction, “How to Help Children Compose.”
The Making of Moonbeams and other Musical Sketches
Seated at the piano with manuscript paper set on the music rack alongside a pencil with eraser, I let my imagination run free. Improvising and dancing across the keys, I created “Moonbeams,” a bi-chordal wash, using two basic sonorities submerged in one sustain pedal.
Animated creations followed: “March of the Elves,” “Fingers on the Run,” “Merry-Go-Round,” “Mosquito Dance,” and “Catch Me!”
Interspersed among these fast paced selections were more lyrical pieces: “Hebrew Melody and Variations,” “Ballerina,” and “Gliding on Ice.”
Perhaps it was an accident of fate that each of these character pieces had a teaching dimension.
The icing on the cake, of course, was my uncle David’s accompanying art work. I had sent him an audio cassette of the titled pieces, making the whole process a cross-country exchange. (from California to New York and back)
Here are a few samples from the album that can be used as Intermediate Level repertoire. I hope these pieces will encourage piano teachers to experiment with composing, and pass this creative activity down to their students.
*The pieces were not composed in this particular order. Considerations related to key and mood were paramount in organizing the collection.
Moonbeams was reviewed favorably in Clavier Magazine and found its way to the Music Teachers Association of California Convention held in Los Angeles. A student from the area performed “Hebrew Melody and Variations” at the New Materials session.