GCSE A-Level Extra Curricular Composition

Young Composers Competition

You may or may not have seen information about the Music First Young Composers competition. I thought I would feature it on the blog as it strikes me as an excellent idea and opportunity.

Information about the Competition can be found here.

Judith Weir

My attention was drawn to the competition when I saw the name Judith Weir. Judith is a British composer and the first female Master of the Queens Music. Wow, what an inspiration she is and can be. In a world where we are trying to promote more female composers, Judith Weir seems like a great place to start. I love introducing my students to composers, and Judith has some fantastic music to enjoy.

I mention Judith Weir because she is providing a virtual masterclass for the finalists – wow, what an opportunity.

It might be that students are not aware of who she is, and so I do encourage you to play them some of her music. It might challenge them to open their ears to new ideas and styles. Wider Listening is also an essential part of GCSE & A-Level Music – Judith Weir should certainly feature!

If you are looking for some starting points for her music then maybe try:

  • Storm (1997)
  • The Welcome arrival of the rain (2001)
  • Ascending into Heaven (1983)
Love Bade Me Welcome – Judith Weir


The important thing with introducing students to Judith Weir is that we can inspire them. A composition competition is all about inspiring our students to be creative. I worry that students are getting less creative at times, nervous to make mistakes. The job of a music teacher is to keep them inspired and keep them composing. A competition might the catalyst you need to spark some excitement in your students. Listening to great music will of course help with that, and the thought that they get to virtually meet a living composer.

Composing in 2021

When I think back to my first year of teaching, it is hard to believe how far things have come. Now, students can compose at home or in school, capturing ideas on iPads, phones and laptops with ease. Software is in the cloud and there is no end to what’s available to our students. Whether it be Soundtrap, Noteflight or Sibelius! Students are so lucky aren’t they! I think with this competition the idea is that they can submit anything, but you as the teacher need to send it to Music First for them. It is all explained on the website.

Young Composers Competition

Half Term is nearly upon us and maybe this is the perfect project to set for students. The deadline is October 31st 2021, so you will need a plan to get the work from students. But sharing music in the cloud is easier than ever! I think it will be a great experience for the students and I need to nag mine to get their pieces to me! Even if they aren’t successful, I know that the process will get them thinking more about composition. I think the more we can raise the profile of composing in schools the better!

All the best and I hope this has been a helpful prompt. Now listen to Judith Weir all evening, you won’t regret it!

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