At some point, we’ve all had the experience of learning something new and wondering, “When am I ever going to use this?” Students can struggle with learning math for instance, because it isn’t always clear how those math concepts relate to their daily lives. The solution isn’t just more word problems, it’s using motivating, real-world projects to keep students engaged in a learning process that matters to them. When a student needs to use algebra to build a birdhouse for their mom, or convert measurements for a cookie recipe for their friend, they become more motivated to learn, and they're more likely to retain that knowledge and have a deeper understanding of the material.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that this same idea applies to learning music theory. Pieter, an Orpheus guitar student, has developed his understanding of music in large part by writing and experimenting with his own compositions. These original pieces give him the chance to put theories like melody, harmonization, and instrumentation into practice, and apply them to something he really cares about. Pieter’s teacher, Jesse, spoke with Pieter and his dad, David, about Pieter’s compositions and the role they have played in his musical education.
Jesse: Pieter, how long have you been playing the guitar?
Pieter: At least three years.
Jesse: What’s your favorite part of playing music?
Pieter: I suppose it’s performing.
Jesse: Does it make you feel a certain way, or do you like preparing for a big special event?
Pieter: I suppose I like showing off.
Jesse: Fair enough. You acquire a skill, you want people to see you show that skill off, so I understand that completely.
Jesse: What is your favorite kind of music to play?
Pieter: Music that I’ve played over and over and over again. Because it’s really easy for me to play.
Jesse: Yeah! Well so that means just about any style of music is fun for you to play once you feel comfortable, confident playing it?
Jesse: What first made you interested in composing music?
Pieter: I suppose it was just… I was shown it one time and I wanted to try it. I was shown a tool to make music and I suppose I just liked it.
Jesse: Is there a particular style of music or instrumentation or instrument you like composing for?
Pieter: Well, I generally compose pieces that have multiple different instruments in them actually.
Jesse: Yeah, what is it you like about that?
Pieter: Seeing how they might fit together, I suppose.