Repetition is perhaps the most important concept for the young composer to grasp. Think of your favorite song. Take note the many ways that repetition is important to that piece. It could be small scale repetition like the way melodic phrases repeat or it could be large scale repetition having to do with the overall form.

Ethan Hein has a very indepth blog post about the many ways that repetition defines music here

Create Your Main Melody!

Before you can develop a melody you need to create one! Compose a main melody for you composition. Think of it as the main character in your story. Throughout your story this character will appear in different ways and in different contexts.

Compose Your Main Melody!

Develop Your Main Melody- 3 Kinds of Repetition

Ok, now that you have a main melody that you really love I'm sure your listeners would like to hear it again. There are three ways you could develop your melody:

Exact Repetition: Of course you could always just repeat it exactly as you have it. This is fine to do but it may be the least interesting option.

Variation: Try repeating your melody but making some kind of change to it. Another way to think of this is having something new in your piece that is related in some way to something we've already heard. You could:

  1. End on a different note the second time

  2. Begin the melody differently the second time

  3. Change the melodic shape slightly somewhere in your melody.


A sequence is a kind of repetition also. Choose part of your main melody or even the entire melody. Repeat that exact same melodic shape but from a higher or lower starting note. For example:

Go to your main melody and develop it!

Where is it? Well, remember that any time you open a template score it is automatically saved for you in your Noteflight home. Find the score called Composition 1 in your Noteflight home. This will be the score used for your main composition.

Classroom Activity

Working individually or in pairs using classroom instruments, iPads or band instruments students will compose a short 4 to 6 note melody. They should then repeat their melody using one of the kinds of repetition from this lesson: exact repetition, variation or sequence. As the class listens to each performance ask them to identify the method of repetition they are hearing.

A great warm up/beginning of class activity as students enter the classroom is to project the PlayPad app on the overhead projector or through a loud speaker. Perform the various kinds of repetition and ask students to identify what they are hearing.


Go to the topic on Developing a Melody and post a reply. Develop a Melody Topic Let us know if you have any thoughts about this step. If you're doing this with your students did they find anything that was difficult? Helpful?

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