My second graders have completed the final steps in writing their compositions. After choosing and writing rhythms and pitches, they added expression markings to their pieces. Each chose andante, moderato, or allegro as a tempo (some more than one). They also added dynamic markings, using at least forte and piano, although some who take piano lessons added mezzo piano, mezzo forte, crescendos, and diminuendos.
I think this step was the most fun for the students. After completing the more difficult and technical steps, making decisions on volume and speed brought the focus back to being creative and musical. Most of the students made thoughtful decisions and had good reasons for their markings.
As students have completed this last step, I’ve been having them practice their pieces, then perform them for the class on piano or a small xylophone labeled with the solfege scale. They are not yet at a level when they can play their tempo and dynamics, but they have been doing well playing their pitches. The most enlightening part of this assignment is to see that the compositional and musical understanding of second graders is more advanced than their ability to perform their creative musical ideas. Playing or singing is not the only way to communicate musical ideas, nor is it necessarily the best way at this level of development. I look forward to exploring other modes of musical communication with my students.