Many times, especially with the advanced students, there will be a time in a composing project, when everything seems to be in a chaos. There are a lot of good ideas, but they don’t construct a whole piece of music, they are just detached thoughts. That moment can be a quite agonizing for the student and that is the time your help is needed the most.
At first gather all the ideas a student has. Record them to your phone or you or your student can write them. Students ideas can have changed from the last lesson and he or she might even have forgotten the previous ones. Last year when I was composing with one of my students, she had a lot of great ideas for the composition. She showed her ideas for me in a lesson and wanted to continue developing them by herself. This went on a few weeks and for some reason I didn’t record her ideas to my phone. You can guess what happened. She forgot her ideas and couldn’t finish the composition. Fortunately she loves composing, so there isn’t any permanent harm done although that composing project wasn’t successful. So, learn from my mistake: Record or write down ideas in every lesson!
In chaos it is important you to help your student to get out of it and be able to continue the composition. Give ideas, how to continue. Remember always give many ideas, so that your student can try them and choose, which ones he or she wants to use and which doesn’t. The student always has the control over his or her composition. It is his or her own.
Ask questions: What kind of music you are composing? What is the feeling in this composition? Is it sad or happy? Is it fast or slow? Is there a story behind it? What is the structure? Is there a climax? etc. You can also draw a picture of the structure of the composition. First it starts calmly, then the intensity starts to climb higher and higher, then climax and calming to the peaceful end. Or it can start with the climax or end to it. Remember: Everything is allowed. There’s no rules.