HSC Composition Workshops for Elective Music Students

NECOM's support of senior school elective music students started early this year when it presented its first specialised HSC Composition Day on Thursday 20 February. Over 70 elective students in Music 1 and Music 2 & Extension from Armidale and Tamworth attended along with their teachers and the day helped them hone their compositional skills for their HSC compositions.

The workshop was presented by guest composers and music education specialists James Madsen and Holly Harrison from Sydney.

Holly Harrison gave insight into a variety of techniques for Music 2 students to apply to new or existing works including motivic development, rhythmic and textural devices, idiomatic writing for instruments and creativity and notation software. Sessions included a combination of short and longer composition activities with plenty of time for the students to experiment with the ideas explored.

Music Teacher, Jordan Wett from Calrossy attended Holly's workshop:
I found them very effective and most importantly, very accessible for students. Things were explained both succinctly and in a manner that resonated with students. Complicated concepts like using rhythm and rhythmic devices to drive pitch and vice versa were useful tools in giving students an idea of where they can begin. I think everyone related to Holly when she said that she doesn't write with an idea of how it's going to speak, no one does, and it is not a linear process, rather an amalgamation of different ideas. Holly was very engaging and is an inspiring musician. I wish I could have gone to both workshops to get more of an idea of how Music 1 students responded in real-time. They have been all praise though.

James Madsen lead Music 1 students through improvisation activities in different musical styles to find melodies/chord progressions on which to base their compositions. They learned about musical structure and strategies for arranging their ideas into instrumental parts for a composition.

Music teacher Alastair Finco from NEGS attended James's workshop:
James has the unique ability to structure the compositional process in a manner that simplifies it for music students - the structure and sequence were pedagogically spot on. His approachable manner and positive encouragement helped the students feel confident in the session which allowed them to express themselves creatively. By the last session they were so good at developing their ideas. This was evident by the quality of their own compositions that they performed at the end of the day - it spoke volumes for the value of the workshop. Thank you for putting it on - it was really worthwhile.