This practically based course will demonstrate how to develop and improve students’ skills in A level composition work. The webinar will explore and provide a range of practical, effective strategies, methods and idea to support students in acquiring the essential composition fundamentals – how to create and develop convincing and coherent musical ideas, how to achieve fluency, musical unity, expressive and technical control.

The range of music examples will include working with songs, popular songs, film music as well as Western classical briefs. A key focus of the day is creating musical balance, unity, fluency, a convincing composition. The balance between musical unity and variety is placed at the top of all exam board’s assessment criteria for composition.


  • Extend your range of composition teaching techniques, methods and ideas to raise composition technique levels in your students
  • Explore range of approaches to create and develop musical ideas
  • Take away a effectives strategies to manage the varying skill set in the classroom
  • Find out more about how to use your knowledge of the assessment criteria in your teaching techniques
  • Sample compositions will be discussed and marked
DATE & LOCATION London | Monday 30 November 2020
  • Heads of Music
  • Teachers of A level Music
  • Teachers new to teaching composition at A level
IN-SCHOOL You can also book this as an In-School Course
  • A specially prepared folder of 50+ pages full of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance
  • Two course restaurant lunch
  • Refreshments throughout the day
  • Guaranteed high quality venues


10.00 – 10.30pm
Getting Started

  • Selecting good source materials as examples for students, whatever their musical backgrounds and musical interests
  • Putting the right ingredients in to ensure good results: how to plan composition with your students to give them clear focus for their composition as they move forward and to give you a clear framework for assessment
  • The 3 L’s – Looking, Listening, Lifting. Sourcing and developing resources to support all of
    your students

10.30 – 11.30pm
Creating and Developing Musical Ideas with Coherence

  • Ensuring good musical structures and processes
  • Helping your students to get the balance between musical unity and variety
  • Techniques to build, develop musical ideas to a create a coherent and convincing composition with a sense of direction and fluency
  • What does ‘unity and coherence’ mean across different genres?
  • Developing different musical ideas when working to a brief
  • Ways to use sources to inspire your students’ ideas to demonstrate formal processes
  • Ways of supporting and developing weak and incoherent structures

11.30 – 11.45pm
Discussion & coffee break

11.45 – 12.45pm
Helping Your Students Develop and Extend Musical Ideas

  •  How to guide students towards the holy grail – ‘A sense of wholeness with a sophisticated sense of unity.’
  • Different approaches for extending and developing musical ideas
  • What makes a strong, well developed musical idea? How can we build up to this? What are  the progression routes? What are the best ways?
  • The great balancing act – embracing variety whilst maintaining unity
  • Examples in a variety of genres which successfully develop and extend musical ideas

12.45 – 1.45pm
Lunch & informal discussion

1.45 – 2.30pm
Creating and Developing Musical Ideas with Expressive Control

  • What is ‘expressive control’ and how can our students build up to and acquire this?
  • Different ways to work with a brief
  • Capturing mood and atmosphere and writing music for an occasion
  • Good source material

2.30 – 3.30pm
How to Write Idiomatic Music 

  • Practical methods, ideas and techniques to write idiomatic music
  • Creating and Developing Musical Ideas with technical control
  • Writing ‘appropriate music’ within a chosen genre
  • Supporting technical control across genres
  • Does free composition mean free composition?

Dr. David Knotts

Dr. David Knotts studied at the Royal Academy of Music, King’s College Cambridge, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the University of Sussex. He has held teaching posts at Lady Margaret School in Fulham and the Yehudi Menuhin School and currently teaches at Canterbury Christchurch University and the Royal Academy of Music, where he teaches composition as well as delivering the LRAM teacher training programme. He is currently working with A level composition students in his role as composer in residence at City of London School for Girls. David’s experience as a composer and educationalist is wide ranging: he has written music for many of the country’s leading orchestras, ensembles and instrumentalists and has developed composition projects for many of the country’s leading arts organisations. David was made an honorary associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2007 in recognition of his work in the fields of composition and education.

View all courses led by Dr David Knotts >