Video Interviews

Enjoy full length interviews conducted by Mei Endo with students at Opus 31. Hear what Jacob Dennison, Jonathan DeRoehn and Izzy Patterson think about composing, the inspiration behind their pieces, the mentor process and more. 

Jacob Dennison


Jonathan DeRoehn


Izzy Patterson



During Opus 30, students were interviewed to see what they think about writing music, the composition process, Opus events and more.

Thank you to LCATV for all of their help.

How are real musicians different from computer playback?

Thoughts from Nadia Scoppettone, Wayne Alexander, Kaleigh Goulet-McCarthy, Rachel Schwartz, Erin Magill, Malayna Johnson and Eileen Kocherlakota. Music by Ethan Duncan.



Why do you write music?

Thoughts and music from Saigelyn Green and Jonathan DeRoehn
North Country Union High School

Student Work

Students post their compositions online and request feedback from the mentoring community. Upon receiving input from their mentors, the students revise and re-post their compositions. This cycle may repeat  several times before a student feels that their piece is complete.

Key Tenets

Several key tenets about the composition process used in Music-COMP are:

1. Composition is an essential element of a well-rounded curriculum (details)

2. Using notation software develops music literacy (details)

3. Begin notational composition with structured guidelines 

4. Reflect and critique frequently

5. Encourage revision

6. Promote personal composition for the teachers 

7. Provide opportunities for live performance of student work

Composition Process

What does it look like in the classroom?

Composition in Music-COMP schools generally involves entire music classes. It often begins in third or fourth grade where students have access to notation software in the computer lab or music classroom. Students in the elementary and middle levels work in pairs or groups of three to create their original work. At the high school level, students usually work individually, often in a theory/composition class. Composition is gradually making its way into instrumental and vocal ensemble classes. Successful strategies for composition have been developed by project teachers and by the professional composer mentors.

Reflection and Critique:

Students share their work often in guided critique sessions within the classroom. Reflecting on their own work and critiquing the work of others is essential as students explain their intent and develop the use of music vocabulary to describe their compositions. Students learn to ask for specific feedback from others within their classroom. 

Representative student work is posted to the Music-COMP password protected website for sharing and critique by professional composers and other teachers and students involved in the project. Revision of student work is a recursive procedure where students get feedback on their work-in-progress and consider which of the suggestions will help them improve their work. 
Critique can also come from other teachers and students who participate in the project. See Mentoring Guidelines for Teachers, Mentors and Students for specific details.

Live Performance:

Since April 2000, student compositions have been selected for live performance in the Opus events, where professional performers rehearse with each student before an evening concert. Live performance takes students beyond writing the music with the computer. They learn to accurately represent their composition in print so they may communicate their work to the musicians. Most students, including elementary and middle school students, use the Noteflight notation software program, an online notation program which they can access from home without any software purchase.  An evening Opus concert is presented for the public and the work is captured on video, audio, and in a multimedia CD. Examples of student work can be seen here.

Mentoring Process Examples

Sample Mentoring Thread Molly, a sixth grade student with three mentors

This piece was commented on twelve times over a period of three months. Using Noteflight, Molly continually revised her piece with 290 versions recorded online, including automatic saves. Below is a truncated sample of the online conversation, samples of her work in progress and a recording of the live performance at the end.


Molly's Composition - Initial Posting - Feb. 2 (PDF)
Molly's Composition - 1st Iteration - Feb. 25 (PDF)
Molly's Composition - 2nd Iteration - Mar 7 (PDF)

Continue reading for final score, thread of mentoring discussion and live performance recording