Classical MPR in the Classroom: Teaching composition

August 14, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Classical MPR in the Classroom is a standards-based video series to assist elementary music teachers in the classroom. The videos and curriculum are available for free on the Classical MPR YouTube channel as well as here on

How does one teach composition — something that came so naturally to young talents such Mozart and Beethoven — to a large class of elementary students?

In the Composition video, Anoka teacher Chris Martino works with a fifth-grade class to demonstrate different strategies for creating a musical composition.

Mr. Martino applies a lexicon to patterns that we hear in music all the time, showing how these patterns can be broken down and combined in order to compose a piece of music.

Each of these note patterns are defined as strategies, and throughout the lesson the students work to identify them through what Mr. Martino calls "modalities" — different ways of experiencing music.

Students discover strategies through listening, singing, improvising and more, eventually using these patterns to create their own compositions.

This video addresses benchmarks in Music Education Standards that cover composition, improvisation, knowledge of the elements of music, singing, playing instruments, reading, and notating music.

Classical MPR thanks The Sunup Foundation for generous support of this music education initiative.

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