We all know there’s a lot of things to teach in piano lessons and there is never enough time to do everything. So how to find time to compose? Is there time to that? That is a question I asked myself and I’ve heard many other piano teachers wondering that too. After doing composition projects with my students a few years I have found out that it doesn’t take that much time from the lessons and that these projects give so much to my students and to me also, that it really is worth it.
The main key to manage with time is to keep composing projects. My students don’t compose all the time. They usually make one or two projects every year. One composing project lasts 4 to 8 weeks depending how big composition is going to be and are we going to notate it also. We don’t always notate the composition. Most of the time my students compositions aren’t simple to notate so notating would take a lot of time from the lessons. So I vary it. If one student didn’t make sheet music from his or her previous composition, we might notate the next one. The main thing is that every composition is saved somehow; an audio record or a video sent to parents to save the performing of the composition to the cloud is a good option for notation.
When we are composing my student plays his or her composition the way it is at that time at the beginning of every lesson. Then we discuss about it and I’ll give some examples to try, would some of them be good ways to continue, if student needs ideas. If she or he has a clear view what’s going to happen next, I let them keep composing themselves. In my next chapter I will give ideas how to support and help your student during composing project. Usually composing takes 5 to 10 minutes from each lesson. Students don’t compose in piano lessons, they compose at home. The lessons are for brainstorming the ideas together. The student can also try a few ideas, how they would fit to composition, but then I leave it to them to continue at home.
During my student’s composing project I leave some other homework to the side, for example scales so that we don’t play scales on lessons at that time. If the composition in going to be larger and takes more of my students time, I can leave out other homeworks also. We all know our students and we are all capable to decide, how much piano homework is good for every individual. Use your instinct and your knowledge as a teacher.