About Composing Together

Composing Together brings applied learning music composition into Bay Area middle and high school classrooms.  Since 2008, over 4000 music students along with non-music and special education students have worked directly with CT Teaching Composers to create over 150 original collaborative compositions, hearing them performed in front of their peers, teachers, and community members.  Each season, CT pairs  composing with a familiar discipline, like original poetry, local native plants, Fibonacci, and outer space, to create curiosity, a comfort zone and kickstart creativity.  This thoughtfully designed program gets students of all ability levels engaged and involved with each other and their ideas, taking imagination from its first spark to a completed new work of art.


Composing Together is the synthesis of Wreede’s experience as a Composer in the Schools for the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the American Composers Forum, a founding faculty member of the John Adams Young Composers Program at the Crowden School, a San Francisco Community Music Center Comprehensive Musicianship Program teacher, and a Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission certified Teaching Artist.  Her goal with CT is to expose large numbers of young people to the creative process: valuing original ideas in a collaborative setting, learning follow-through skills, revising based on feedback, and performing the result.  This is also an entrepreneurial model used by companies like Google.  CT always supports school teachers by emphasizing and conforming to the National Performing Arts Guidelines, addressing elements of the guidelines difficult to address in a large ensemble class setting, like harmonic structure, instrumentation, improvisation, and musical form.  CT makes time and space for intellectual and emotional integration of those elements by using them in a creative, small group setting.  CT addresses Common Core Standards.   


Teachers describe a long-term increase in intellectual investment and creative participation in their classes after hosting Composing Together.  The joyfulness of titles like “Chocolate Frog Mango Tango”, “Tai Mai Shu” (tie my shoe), “Rollercoaster Metaphor”, “The Lazy Dragon and the Chicken”, and “Flamingos in Flip Flops” (with on-stage flip flop sound effects) shows that learning music composition while honoring individual self-expression is a powerful mix. 


Teacher, Madeline Prager, at Martin Luther King Middle School, Berkeley, says:  “My students show a dramatic increase in musicianship, curiosity, and ownership of their class repertoire extending long past the visits.   I have witnessed the positive changes it makes in their lives and my classroom.  I believe it is a tremendous confidence-builder and a life lesson in collaborative communication.”


CT workshops range from single assembly concerts to full residencies with students receiving approximately 10-12 hours of participation, including introductory concert, small group "Composing Intensives", peer-to-peer evaluations, and formal concerts.  Residencies include 1-3 teaching composers and professional ensemble, student performers or a combination of students with embedded professionals.


CT is an affliliate of InterMusic SF, a non-profit organization dedicated to the service of ensemble music in California.  

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