Hannah K. WeryMrs. Corbett9 April 2012AP Literature Senior Project Speech Hello, my name is Hannah Wery, and my senior project was to create my veryown choral composition. I have always been fascinated by music. My parents tell me thatwhen I was little, I would close my eyes, sit quietly, and listen to music. My love formusic has only grown since then, especially in middle school when I first experiencedAll-State Chorus. My experience with the best choral students in the state has reallyinspired my zeal for classical and choral music. Ever since then, I have pursued a greaterunderstanding of music theory and composition as well as singing opera. The topic of my research paper was the benefits of an education in music. I foundsome very interesting facts while researching this topic, and I was glad to discover howmusic can be a positive factor in the lives of others. By gaining an education in musicmyself, I will have knowledge to pass on to others and help be a positive influence intheir lives as well. With this in mind, I decided to teach a freshman at Creekview aboutmusic theory. This helped with my composition because I observed how singers in achoir connect to a piece of music, so by seeing how this girl connected to the music shesang, I was able to write something more personal. The composer of a piece of musicshould connect with its singers or instrumentalists the way an author connects with his
readers. Music education also improves the overall functioning of the brain, includingauditory skills, emotional intelligence, the learning of languages, and ability inmathematics. For example, a College Entrance Examination Board in Princeton, NewJersey looked at the SAT scores of college-bound high school seniors and discovered thatmusicians scored 57 points higher on the tests verbal section and 41 points higher inmath. Music can even be used to cure mental illnesses through the practice of musictherapy. By having a career in music, I feel that I will be doing something good for theworld. My final product is my very own music composition. It is SATB, which stands forsoprano, alto, tenor, and bass. This division of choir voices is used in many classicalpieces and modern pieces alike. It is also one of the more complex divisions of voicesbecause each melodic line has to coincide with all the other parts so that it makes senseharmonically. This was probably the most challenging part about creating my productbecause it required a good amount of brain power. What most people fail to recognizeabout musicians and their work is the difficulty of analyzing chords and putting themtogether in a way that sounds pleasing to the ear. A music composer needs a decentamount of intelligence and capability to do his or her job well. I chose this as my projectbecause I wanted to be better prepared for college, where I intend to major in musiccomposition. I also wanted to expand my skills as a musician and create somethingbeautiful. The creative part of this project was by far my favorite. My first step tocomposing music, and the most important, was inspiration. Without it, a musician can getthe feeling of having "writers block" and become frustrated. As cliche as this may sound,
the best way to begin writing a piece is to just "let it come to you." The second step forme was to develop a central theme. Once I knew what I wanted my song to be about, I letthe words come to me as poetry. The words inspired a melody, which I was able totranscribe onto sheet music. Next came harmonic dictation. Roman numeral analysis is atechnique used in music theory to analyze chord progressions, and I used this to help mehear in my head what I wanted the piece to sound like. Once I had a general idea for whatI wanted my song to sound like, I began putting in the notes using this online softwarecalled noteflight.com. After this, I was able to write the other voice parts so that theycomplemented the melody. Finally, I finished the piano part, and the piece was complete.Of course, there was a great deal of revision involved, which transformed my piece froma mere rough draft to a rather impressive composition for a beginning composer, if I dosay so myself. My project facilitator was none other than Rob Opitz, the band director atCreekview. I chose him as my facilitator because he is my AP music theory teacher thisyear, and I feel that he has already taught me much more than just what is on the AP test.Also, he especially pushed the class in the area of composition. Outside of what I learnedin class, we met after class so that we could discuss how my piece was coming along andhow I am improving as a musician and as a composer. He would tell me the changes thatI needed to make, and at first all that revision was frustrating, but in the end, it vastlyimproved my composition. Despite the planning put into this project, there were some complications. Thegreatest challenge I had was working with other people. I made very sure not toprocrastinate on this project; I began it in July. However, I was still required to work
around other peoples schedules. For example, my project facilitator is a very busyperson, so finding time for him to help me with my project outside of class was, at times,a huge difficulty. Also, I could not manage to get an entire choir of people together toteach them my composition, what with extra-curriculars and the like. But aside from that,I found that I was able to work efficiently and find plenty of inspiration. Also, with adegree in music composition, I would not actually need to conduct my pieces; I wouldonly be required to write them. If I were to need a choir to sing my compositions, I couldaccess a college choir, especially if I were a music professor. I think that my idea ofcompiling high schoolers together to sing my composition was a bit far-fetched,especially with all the plans our choral director has for us this year. As a whole, I learned that music is much more complex than I ever imagined itwould be. Music theory is a very in-depth topic, and there is much more to it than puttingnotes on a piece of paper. When people say that Mozart is a genius, it is not because hisfingers simply fell onto the right keys on the piano. Music is not guess work; it is a verycomplicated practice with every last note and rhythm carefully crafted to create amasterpiece. I most certainly intend to pursue this topic further. I enjoy helping people, and Ifeel that through a career in music, I can put my talent to good use and use music topositively influence the lives of others. I have learned so much about music and aboutmyself, as well as what I want to do with my life. I feel that although this project took agreat deal of time away from my studies, it was overall a very enjoyable and fulfillingexperience. I will now be able to begin my freshman year of college knowing more aboutmusic theory and composition than some who have already attended a years worth of
college music courses. Then when I begin my career in music, I will have the opportunityto possibly inspire other young musicians the way composers such as Beethoven andMozart have inspired me and so many others. I believe that the path I have chosen willallow me to have a positive impact on the world for as long as I live. When I havechildren of my own someday, I plan to educate them in music as well so that they canhave the same benefits that I have had. If you have a child who is interested in singing orplaying an instrument, I highly suggest that you encourage their passion for music. Thank you for your time.