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Composer's Toolkit

An essential companion to any budding creator, the Composer’s Toolkit is a framework for students to build their own musical compositions. Scaffolded to fit a range of ages and skill levels, these compositional activities are adaptable for use in the classroom, the studio, or at home.

Participants will be encouraged to share their work, with an opportunity to be featured on the California Festival Website in November 2023. The California Festival aims to bring together resources and creativity, allowing educators and students across the state to connect with each other and highlight the musical talents from their own communities.

> Check out submitted compositions.

Composition Prompts

The two prompts below include activities and suggestions that are meant to spark ideas and offer a framework for creating original compositions. Young composers may choose one or both of the prompts to explore and let your musical imagination soar.

All activities can be adapted for different ages, skill levels, and types of learners. For those that need a little more guidance, suggested composition strategies and supporting worksheets have been included.

Community Musical Portrait

Explore the people, places, and shared experiences within your community, and then create a musical portrait that reflects your community’s unique identity.


Soundscape for a Landscape

Explore the rich and complex landscapes of California and create a soundscape that reflects your journey.


Accompanying Resources

Guide for Young Composers

Guide for Young Composers

Creating a Soundscape Worksheet

Creating a Soundscape Worksheet

Frequently Asked Questions

Students may share their composition using one or more of the following formats:

  1. Soundscape (a collection of various sound samples meaningfully arranged to express an idea or emotion that a composer is trying to convey; it is like a sound-painting).

  2. Graphic score (click here for some examples)

  3. Traditional score

  4. Audio or video recording of performance

You may create your composition for a variety of instruments, including (but not limited to):

1. Classroom instruments (e.g., shakers, recorder, bells, drums, xylophone, etc.)
2. Voice
3. Found objects or sounds
4. Solo instrument
5. Body percussion
6. Chamber ensemble
7. Full orchestra

Compositions may be as short as 30 seconds, but no longer than 5 minutes.

Email visual score(s), audio and video links, and small supporting files to

For larger files, please upload to the California Festival Dropbox.