One of the best ways to learn anything is by creating.
Think about the last paper you wrote? You were a lot more invested in that history topic than you were by just reading about it.
The same goes with music.
You gain a more intimate knowledge of piano by playing it. You feel the idiosyncrasies of your piano versus the one in the practice room at school. You learn more about phrasing when you write your own pieces.
And this is why composing (even just for yourself) is so important to being a musician. Not only does the experience of creating connect you to other people — both alive now as well as composer long-since dead — it also gives you more appreciation for the music you play.
Somehow, it can help you love music even more. And it’s just a lot of fun to create things, and we all need to prioritize fun especially right now.
But composing can also come with its own form of writer’s block. So the best way to deal with that is to give yourself limits and turn it into a game!
A couple of years ago, I shared a song template to use with some rhythm cards from Teach Piano Today, which were great when I first found them. I was a little bummed that there were only 9 cards, and they were only in 4/4 time though. So I decided to make my own!
My Halloween composition pack covers three time signatures (4/4, 3/4, and 6/8), each with 45 cards of spooky words set to rhythms:
Fun phrases is a really helpful way to get younger students to “feel the beat.” And as an adult, using a card or two to start composing is pretty much all I need to overcome writer’s block. I make it more complex by adding more layers!
The rhythms come in 3 levels of difficulty, so anyone who can read music at all, even if you started yesterday, can use these.
That’s a total of 270 prompt cards.
Picking your favorite cards or choosing at random is a great way to inspire melodies, but how do you take a few measures of melody and turn it into a full song?
Use a template or a traditional song form!
It’s a fill-in-the blank for music that the most genius composers like Mozart and Haydn used.
This pack includes 3 different forms in short and full-length versions (Binary, Ternary, and AABA). Multiply that across the 3 time signatures, and that’s 18 templates.
The pack also includes explanations for each form, so if you’re not a teacher, you can have some spooky fun at any level of experience. And it’ll grow with you too!
What Comes in the Pack
- 270 rhythm prompt cards
- 3 time signatures (4/4, 3/4, 6/8) at 3 different levels of complexity
- 18 Song templates
- 50 Accompaniment patterns
- 5 Games you can play with the rhythm cards
- Musescore and compressed xml (.mxl) files for all the rhythm cards, templates, and accompaniment patterns, so you can easily copy and paste to create professional scores for your creations
- Lifetime online updates and studio license
- Recommended resources to guide your curiosity
Sound like a spooky good time? I know I’m excited to play!
I hope you all have as much fun making spooky music as I had putting this pack together!
About the Author
Amy King is a music theory and piano instructor currently residing in the Chicago area.
She holds a Master of Music in Music Theory and Cognition from Northwestern University (June 2020) and a Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance and English Literature from High Point University (May 2016), where she received the Outstanding Senior Music Major Award, which is awarded to one single graduating music student per year.
Amy has been teaching private piano lessons for 12+ years, taught classroom music theory for 5 years, directed choirs spanning ages 4–25, led and arranged for a university a capella group, and composed and arranged music for various soloists and ensembles.
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