Monthly Music Composition Challenge - August 2018

August Composition Challenge: “Young Violins”

Welcome to a new music composition challenge – we’ve got an exciting one in store!

For this month’s challenge, we’re partnering up with Crescendo Phoenixville, which in their own words is “a community music organization that provides high-quality music education to children who might otherwise not receive it.” (Check out their website here). 

The program is run by Elizabeth Grimshaw free of charge. This year she’ll be taking in young students interested in learning the violin.

In my own experience as a teacher, what keeps young musicians’ enthusiasm going throughout the year to is not the promise of candy (although it might help). It’s great, fun music to practice! And this is where we composers come in.

For this month’s challenge we’ll be writing music for beginner violinists. Here is a list of parameters so that our music fits Elizabeth’s program of studies:

Scales and strings:

  • All open strings;
  • A major scale on the A and E strings;
  • D, E, F sharp but not G sharp on the D string;
  • Arpeggio-based patterns;
  • D major and G major scales are ok for later on in the program;

Rhythm and Meter:

  • Whole notes, half notes, quarter notes and eighth notes;
  • 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4;
  • 6/8 is a possibility only for much later on in the program;
  • Tempo is free (but keep it reasonable);
  • Simple rhythm patterns (such as the Georgia shuffle bowing pattern: quarter – eighth – eighth – quarter – eighth – eighth)
  • Triplets;
  • Groups of four 16th notes;
  • No syncopation;

Bowings and Articulations:

  • pizzicato is always a winner
  • long, fluid bows – one note per bow. Slow and fast tempos. I would avoid slurring notes just yet.
  • stacatto bow stroke
  • Whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes.
  • simple rhythm patterns – we’ll be learning the Georgia shuffle bowing pattern (quarter-eighth-eighth quarter-eighth-eighth), triplets and sets of 4 16th notes. No syncopation.
  • Other articulations that would be fun for the kids: incorporating their voices in a group shout or group stomp.

Dynamics: everything (Kids love music that starts slow and quiet and ends fast and loud.)

Duration: 2 to 3 pages of music

Ensembles: Up to 4 voices

Optional accompaniment: Piano; Xylophone; Orchestral Bells and small percussion instruments;

Style & Form

  • Anything you like but the kids would love some Central & South American influences as well as Pop tunes;
  • The students will also be working on ear training so pieces that bring out specific intervals or that helps them recognize intervals is welcome!

How to Submit an Entry

To submit your music:

  1. Share it on our Facebook group here
  2. Or send links with mp3 and score (if available) by email on 

When you upload the music to YouTube, Soundcloud or any other platform please link back to this page in the description.

Deadline: 4th of September, 2018

At the end of the challenge I’ll produce a video briefly analyzing some of your entries. This is a great opportunity for each of us to listen and learn how different composers approach the criteria.

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