The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the strategies used by various Minnesota choral composers to write middle school choral music. The research addresses questions relating to 1) types of text chosen by composers; 2) how each voice part fits into the larger work; 3) choosing a musical form; 4) composing the melody and harmony; 5) selecting accompaniment instruments; 6) creating original arrangements; 7) something the composer wishes to tell all choral directors about their music; and 8) other information they wish to share with anyone who comes in contact with their music.
Eight composers from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area were selected by the author to participate in this thesis. These composers were Elizabeth Alexander, Abbie Betinis, Nancy Grundahl, Steve Heitzeg, Daniel Kallman, Stephen Paulus, Josh Shank, and Tim Takach. All composers have composed and/or arranged music for the middle school level that is currently published.
The ultimate goal of this thesis was to give insight into composers’ specific thoughts about writing music for this age level, which can help directors be better prepared to teach and introduce new works. Many composers gave similar answers to the research questions, which allows for some generalizations to be made about how professional composers approach writing music for the middle school level. Additionally, the author hopes that more music educators and directors will contact living composers about performing their music or commissioning new works. Discussing musical works with the composer adds another dimension into the teaching and learning of music for everyone involved in its performance.