In the light of the summer 2018 exams, this practical, NEW course is designed to provide a focus for all teachers looking for enhanced guidance and support, and who are keen to refresh their approaches to developing and improving students’ composition work. The course is targeted for all teachers of A level Music, regardless of examination board.

The approaches and techniques discussed, exampled and so on will be focussed on A level, but would be also of benefit for teachers of GCSE music looking for ways to develop their students’ composition techniques and skills to create good compositions.

A range of music examples will be looked at including Western classical briefs, working with songs, popular songs etc and film music.


  • Develop your teaching to raise standards in composition
  • Learn a range of effective approaches to generate and develop musical ideas
  • Take away a range of effective strategies to manage the varying skill set in the classroom
  • Improve your understanding of the assessment criteria and how to use them
  • Network and discuss ways of delivering composition effectively
  • Find out more about planning with students to facilitate a ‘step-by-step’ approach to composition
COURSE DATE London Monday 17 June 2019
  • 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

  • The 3 L’s – Looking, Listening, Lifting. Sourcing and developing resources to support all of your students
  • 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
  • Selecting good source materials as examples for students, whatever their musical backgrounds and musical interests

10.30 – 12.30pm
Creating and Developing Musical Ideas with Coherence

The balance between musical unity and variety is placed at the top of all exam board’s assessment criteria for composition. This session will explore what teachers and students understand by ‘musical unity and coherence

PART 1 – Musical Structures and Formal Processes

  • Planning strategies to ensure finished pieces are coherent and unified
  • Different ways of supporting and developing weak and incoherent structures
  • What does ‘unity and coherence’ mean across different genres?
  • What is a ‘formal process’?

PART 2 – The Development and Extension of Musical Ideas

  • Techniques for extending and developing musical ideas
  • The great balancing act – embracing variety whilst maintaining unity
  • Examples in a variety of genres which successfully develop and extend musical ideas
  • How to guide students towards the holy grail – ‘A sense of wholeness with a sophisticated sense of unity

12.30 – 1.30pm
Lunch and informal discussion

1.30 – 2.30pm
Creating and Developing Musical Ideas with Expressive Control

  • What is ‘expressive control’?
  • Different ways of working with a brief
  • Capturing mood and atmosphere and writing music for an occasion
  • Good source material

2.30 – 3.30pm
Creating and Developing Musical Ideas with Technical Control

  • Writing ‘appropriate music’ within a chosen genre
  • How to write idiomatic music
  • 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 >