Who says writing music has to be scary? Definitely not me! I’ve had countless conversations with both teachers and students who just don’t know where to start when it comes to composing music. And I get it – it can be overwhelming!!
But good news writing music is really fun, and it’s really not that scary! I know it can feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s only uncomfortable because you’ve never tried it! So I want to give you some tips on how to make composing a piano piece easier. And once you know how to do it, then you can teach it to your students too!!
How to Compose a Piece Workshop Replay
And for those looking for the CliffNotes version ⬇️😉
In the workshop replay, I focus on composing in D minor (but any scale works!)
When it comes to writing music, there are two specific pages from my Cascade Method Piano Theory book that I like to concentrate on – scales and chord progressions.
With students, I like to start with the natural minor scales 1. These are the easier scales that start on the white keys. We will look at the scales and if my students can play the scale with both their right and left hand, then they color in the circle on the left page. If they can play the scales hands together, then they can color in the star! It’s all about an immediate reward system!
After we’ve written out the scale and gotten used to the notes, I have them practice playing them a bit, and then tell them that we can make music with those notes!! Fun, right?!
Tips for Piano Composition:
Learn the scale (i.e. D minor scale.) Fill it out in the Cascade Method theory book.
Fill out the chord progressions for that minor scale.
Begin writing music!! Use any note from the (D minor) scale, as well as any chords from the chord progression.
You might start with writing mini patterns that you feel comfortable with and then put your hands together. I would suggest starting by keeping your left hand super simple until you feel ready to do a different rhythm.
i-iv-v-i would be the most obvious chord progression. This is a great chord progression to memorize as a starting point for composition.
If you are playing chords with your left hand and you’re worried if it will sound good or not, you’re always safe playing the same chords in your right hand. If you are holding D minor in your left, you can play D minor notes in the right hand. Remember to always stay on the scale for the best chances of it sounding good!
Remember to just let go and TRY! Don’t overthink it and have fun. As long as you are in the right scale or key, then there really are no mistakes.
Film yourself! This way you can really get lost in exploring music. Then, when you listen back, you may pick up on a melody you might not have remembered.
Try a random chord progression! Write out a random order of chords and then play them. Do you like the way it sounds? Is there anything you want to change?