Welcome to The Musical Cookbook.
This resource provides teachers with a step-by-step guide to composition for pupils in Key Stage 3. It provides activities to ensure pupils have a fundamental grounding in composition technique, as well as the tools to compose music in a variety of styles, or ‘flavours’.
The Musical Cookbook is based entirely on the premise that learning to compose is very similar to learning to cook. Follow the ingredients and instructions in a recipe and it is reasonable to assume that at the end of the process the expected dish will result. In music the same is true; follow the basic recipe and the outcome will be a particular type of music.
It may be that some will see this as limiting the creativity of pupils. On the contrary, in the author’s view it is liberating. It provides a solid foundation for being creative. If pupils were learning to cook, they would practise with tried and tested recipes and it would be no surprise that the outcomes would be all the same, but each one slightly different. In music the same is true, to begin with. All of the music is the same, but each piece is slightly different.
It is important that pupils learn certain basics in composing. These should become standard techniques which they will use numerous times – in each case adding or changing something in the recipe to create different flavours. The technique of writing a tune is often repeated in the recipes. Learning how to write, play and sing the stepwise movement of scales and the jumps between the notes of the triads will be a valuable asset as pupils start to write down their ideas.
All music should be ‘tasted’ (tried out) as part of the composition process; this means playing and/or singing everything as it is composed. Pupils should work together to try things out in pairs or small groups with keyboards, guitars, tuned percussion and voices. This is rather like learning how to crack eggs, prepare a simple pastry case or mix a sponge cake – something which can be used lots of times but in many different ways.
Although the resource is aimed at Key Stage 3, the materials can also be adapted for use with other key stages at both primary and secondary level.