For the past four years, each Spring I’ve given my students the opportunity to participate in The Psalms Project. The first lesson of the year I handout The Psalms Project worksheet and encourage them to compose their own song to go with the words of one or more verses from the Psalms. Here’s a list of the step-by-step instructions I include on the worksheet for each student:
* Pick a verse from one of the psalms in the Bible.
* Compose a melody to go with the words of the verse.
* Figure out what the time signature and key signature are.
* Notate the melody on staff paper.
* Figure out what chords could be used to harmonize the melody.
* Notate the chords or a chord accompaniment to go along with the melody.
* Learn how to use the computer notation program.
* Transfer your composition onto the computer.
* Draw an illustration to go with your composition. (optional)
* Turn in your composition by May 10 to be included in The Psalms Project – Vol. 4 book
Once I’ve received all the contributions, I compile them into a book and send them off to the printer. Then, at our Year-End-Evaluations, the student plays their composition for their parent(s) and is the proud recipient of their very own published work!
It’s an exciting project that gives the students an introduction to composition and notation – both by hand and with the use of computer software. Many of the same students contribute to the project each year and it’s neat to see them grow in musical maturity through their composing. Plus, it’s proved to be a great way to not completely neglect the wonderful world of composition that often gets passed by for other more pressing assignments in my regular teaching routine!