Children Compose Music Even if They Don’t Play an Instrument

A new game, Compose Yourself, allows children or anyone with no prior musical experience to easily compose and then listen to their musical creations. Philip Sheppard; composer, producer and cellist; is passionate about showing people that everyone has fundamental musical talent and the ability to appreciate compositions. His goal was to show that you can play with music and create works pleasing to the listener. The game distributed by Think-Fun uses modular flashcards of musical fragments, which are combined into musical phrases. The sixty transparent cards can be arranged into thousands of combinations because they have no clef and can be read from the front, back, upside down and right side up. Once the cards are arranged the child enters the number on the card into the website to hear their composition. Professional musicians recorded all of the possible musical versions of each card allowing the listener to hear their composition played with the utmost skill. Once the player is ready to hear their musical composition they have the option of listening to it played by a solo marimba, a full orchestra or marimba accompanied by the orchestra.

Mr. Sheppard’s game may be new but the idea behind it is not. Up against a deadline to complete two new compositions in one evening for a film director Mr. Sheppard remembered learning about a compositional game dating from the days of Mozart and Hadyn. Johann Philipp Kirnberger created a dice game that could compose an endless stream of minuets and waltzes. Each face of the die was assigned one measure of music. When rolled the combinations created random musical melodies. That evening Mr. Sheppard wrote out his own cards with standards of music and used this method to create the pieces needed for his deadline compositions. These cards became the basis of the game, Compose Yourself.

Why is this music discovery important for children? It has been found that this type of musical experience nourishes creativity and inquisitiveness. This in turn builds confidence in decision-making and says yes to individual thinking. There are other digital music options:  Groovy Music, Music Academy Software, O-Generator and Apple’s Garage Band.

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