How to Compose for Young Band

Composing for young band is a challenge many composers balk at. But should they?

I rather think of composing for beginners an interesting challenge as a composer. What can you write for musicians who maybe only know five notes on their instrument, and only whole, half, and quarter notes? How can you integrate modern composing techniques, such as electronics, aleatoric elements, and improvisation with new musicians? How can you make the music interesting and valuable for new musicians? How can you make this music appeal to middle school students?

Know what beginning and first or second year music students can perform! They may only understand a few music elements, such as five notes or only whole, half, and quarter notes, but can you make an aesthetically pleasing work for young musicians with such limited means? It’s challenging work, but worth the means. It teaches music can be written by living composers, rather than just by dead white European men, and that maybe they can do the same! It can teach new elements of music, such as dotted rhythms or a new note or scale.

Are you willing to take on the challenge? Do you think this kind of work is limiting or a worthy challenge?

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