Halloween Rondo (Composition)

We rounded off October with Halloween Rondos. A rondo is a musical form where one main theme keeps coming back again and again.

What You Need:

Setup:

  • If you’re using a spinner, arrange the Halloween pictures in a circle with the spinner in the middle. Don’t include the cards that say “A” and “Coda.”

How to Play:

  • The student spins the spinner. Whichever card they end up with becomes Theme A, the one that will be repeated in their rondo. If you’re not using a spinner, just shuffle the cards and have them draw the first card.
  • The student should compose two measures in 4/4 time to be the A section, which the teacher transcribes onto the staff paper. (I thought about making the kids do this, but it would just take way too long.)
    • I recommend placing the hands with the lowest finger on an A. That way they are automatically playing in the key of A minor, and it will sound spooky without much extra effort on their part.
    • Depending on the picture, we talk about how to represent it in music. Should it be fast or slow? Loud or soft? Legato or staccato? In a high octave or very low?
    • I do insist on exactly two measures in 4/4 time. Part of the reason for doing this is to learn to compose reasonable phrases.
  • When the A section is defined, put it on the music stand, and spin again. The next card becomes section B, which should also be two measures of 4/4 time.
  • When the B section is written down, put it on the music stand to the right of the section A card. Afterwards place one of the cards that says “A” to the left. For example, you might end up with this sequence: Jack-o-lantern, Witch, A. The cards are there to remind you and the student that the Jack-o-lantern measures come back after the Witch measures have been played.
  • Spin again for section C. Continue as before until you run out of cards or out of time.
  • Every rondo should finish with a Coda. The coda can be as simple as a long low note quietly fading away or a loud, high note to represent a scream or it can be a further two measures just like all the others.
  • Play the final composition for the student and enjoy. Most of my students were not actually capable of fully reading and playing back their compositions themselves. There is nothing wrong with this: Composers who write symphonies certainly can’t play every instrument themselves. It’s good to have an imagination that stretches beyond our current abilities.

You can listen to my students’ creepy compositions here.

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