Workshop for Young Musicians

CDZ Collegium Musica Workshop for Young Musicians

CDZ Collegium Musica presented a six-day fun and intensive music workshop for young musicians, agers 10 – 14. The individual classes were led by Devin Kosloff, Grant Larson, and Dr. Peter Zisa. The curriculum of the six-day workshop covered elements of music theory (i.e, meter, rhythm, varied scales, triadic harmony, chord construction harmonic progressions, melodic phrasing, dynamics, articulation), improvisation, conducting, ensemble playing, and composition. 

Foundation of Music Theory: Class activities began with the young musicians singing solfeggio and playing melodies on the guitar. They were introduced to Guido D’Arezzo’s hexachord (six-tone scale: do to la scale), pentatonic scale forms, as well as major and minor scales. They were introduced them to the building blocks of triadic harmony by singing and playing in thirds (do-mi, re-fa, mi-sol). When observing the patterns of these tones on the guitar and piano, they learned to recognize the patterns of thirds on the guitar fretboard and on the piano. By further comparing the melodies to the chords of  songs, they learned how melodic tones often represented individual harmonic tones of the corresponding chords. 

Musical Syntax and Form: Our young musicians also learned that melodic structure was connected to harmonic relations, particularly tonic and dominant chords, chords built on the first and fifth scale degree respectively. consisted of musical sentences called phrases; most melodic phrases are four measures in length. 

Ground Bass, Chord Progressions, & Improvisation: One notable playtime activity consisted of improvising over a simple ground bass (harmonic progression result of creating of triads over the bass notes). Our musicians explored three progressions: I – ii – V – I, such as I-vi-ii-V and 12-bar blues. While the ground bass was realized by the guitar and piano accompaniment, two musicians exchanged short melodic phrases in a conversational manner. Putting into practice what they learned from the playing in third activities, they understood and were able to select melodic tones that matched the chords. They also learned the value of including non-harmonic (non-chord) tones. 

Leadership: Conducting is one example of leadership. The conductor enables a group of musicians to help coordinate the independent parts to sound together. The young musicians also learned to conduct in simple duple, triple, and quadruple meters. Each had multiple opportunities to conduct their classmates ensemble.Evaluating how the quality of the result, the conductor provides correction and direction. Following the musical score conductor directs performers dynamics, and provides cues for their individual entries. Following the lead of the conductor is necessary  Our young musicians found this activity challenging and enjoyable. 

Creativity and Innovation: By the four and fifth day of the workshop, our young musicians became young composers. Each composed a short 8 – 16 bar instrumental piece. Using an easy-to-follow compositional procedure, our composers put into practice what they learned. They constructed a rhythm pattern, selected a ground bass (chord progression), and created melodies informed by their earlier melodic improvisational activities. In the end, they wrote out their instrumental composition. Each of their compositions had a key signature (meter), tempo marking, dynamics, a harmonic progression, a melody structured in clear four-bar phrases. 

Co-Leadership: Collaboration of Teamwork Chamber music is about playing together. Playing together is more than playing your part in time. Play time (rehearsals) is a process of co-creating. It requires leadership, collaboration, negotiation, and cooperation. Working out the results was as instructive as playing the notes on the page.

The repertoire of the workshop represented an eclectic blend of works: From Blues to Bartok. The chamber works were led by a conductor. The works included works in duple, triple, quadruple simple meters, as well as a Venezuelan Joropo work in compound duple and simple triple meter.

Our young-musicians-conductors-composers thoroughly enjoyed the workshop. The CDZ-CM workshop was both engaging and pedagogically well-structured and prepared. Each activity served to inform and empower students.


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