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Founded in 2006, Kids Compose has offered a competition for students in grades 2-6 each year. Additional programs have been developed in the form of open houses and workshops, offering support to local music teachers and opportunities for young people to explore music composition as a creative expression of their unique voice. The philosophy behind Kids Compose is an understanding that music, creativity, and music composition are inherent in each individual. Music composition is a continuum that can happen at different ages and stages. Kids Compose facilitates intergenerational and multidisciplinary collaboration using composition as a tool for building connectivity and community.


The Kids Compose Competition gives young students an opportunity

to submit short, original melodies. Finalists are chosen from among the

hundreds of submissions received each year, with eight winners

ultimately chosen. Melodies from the eight winners are assigned in pairs

to IU Jacobs School of Music composition students, who then arrange

the two melodies into a single piece for either band or orchestra.

The original pieces are premiered by IU Jacobs School of Music

ensembles at annual performances with local students in attendance.

With over a thousand students from the Bloomington area looking

on, the Kids Compose Competition winners and IU composers

take the stage of the Musical Arts Center and hear their

collaborative creation for the first time along with an

entranced audience.

Kids Compose is offering programs in new locations. Contact for more information about possibilities for your community.

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In lieu of a workshop in the spring of 2020 (thanks COVID-19...), Kids Compose facilitated a different way for kids to share their original compositions. This is a melody by 2nd grader, Grace, titled “What’s the Answer?” We look forward to when we can meet in person and the kids can experiment further with different ways to arrange their melodies, but meanwhile thank you to the musicians who enabled Grace to hear possibilities.

Kids Compose Runners-Up 2021


Watch Aralyn's process as she progresses through the workshop. (above)

Final versions of their original works arranged during the workshop by Kids Compose Runners-Up:

Aralyn: "Young Pharoh"

Casey:  "Ocean Waves"

Articles on composing with kids:

70 Years of Research into Creativity: JP Guildford’s Role and Today’s Focus


2020 KIE Conference Publications

ISBN 978-1-85924-261-2

Chapter 11

Composing with Children:

Cultivating Creativity, Connections,

and Community

Kansas Music Review
Fall 2009

"Kids Compose!"
by Debbi Ponella
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