KidsKompo (Description below) in the Donatus Primary School Bonn 2018-19

We are proving yet again that primary school children can compose. That they don't just hear and collect music but can write and perform their own.

April 2018 a group of 19 2nd-3rd grade kids composed a piece called The Childrens' Symphony which was first performed on April 27th at the School and on June 24th in the 2018 Bonner Beethoven Kinderfest.

Autumn 2018 the same group (very slightly different) composed again and showed a deeper understanding of the process, many musical things were taken for granted. First performance of The Second Childrens' Symphony was 23rd Nov.2018.

March 2019 a further KidsKompo course will be offered, because so many kids wanted to take part. This time for beginners, supported by Lea Becker and Alex Froitzheim. Final concert 22nd March, probably around 15h.

April-Mai 2019 I will give a composition course like at the Music Highschool, weekly, just for those who really want it. Results will be played at the Beethoven Kinderfest 2019 (15th/16th June).


KidsKompo - composition-course for primary-school

A system for composition-workshops in primary schools. Idea: Martella Gutiérrez-Denhoff, Beethovenhaus, Bonn. Developed in cooperation with her by Elena Mendoza and David P. Graham.

Works with complete classes. Like this:


Day 1 listening: (every day about 2 lessons with a break): the kids search the school for (planted) CD-players where short sounds can be heard, some from nature, some instrumental. They listen, work out what it was, do a sketch of the sound (graphic notation). The sounds are simple (impulse-sounds), repetitive (pulse), white-noise-similar, background/foreground, polyphonic, etc.

Day 2 experimenting: (possible division into two groups using assistant/music teacher or separate sessions) they bring their own instruments (real or diy) or use school stock. They try to make sounds like those from day 1 or equivalents (impulse, pulse, etc). The instruments are researched for extended playing-techniques and cool sounds. The children begin to put sounds together, some kids compose a piece ie set a number of sounds together, sketching the plan. A sampler is presented with all the sounds from the previous day.

Days 3 & 4: composing (possible division into 4 groups) each group of say 7 kids decides what kind of piece they want and „write" it, using everything available including voices, the sampler and any adult intrumentalists present. (Day 3 accent on idea/motive and their qualities. Day 4 accent on development, repeating, structure/form).

Day 5: rehearsal, programme-writing, performance with a small audience of another class and/or parents.

KidsKompo has been succesfully used in many primary schools, is flexible, can be rushed in about 3 days with more time per day, works well (should be a bit more meaty) with older kids, also with students and adults who are/will be educationalists and need such tools.


More (in German) here. Published info here.


PREMIERE! - with Susanne Kessel

PREMIERE! With the pianist Susanne Kessel, David P. Graham initiated a new concert-project for museums and galleries. Should eg PREMIERE! take place in the Deutsches Museum Bonn (Science), it furthers communication between science and culture, between scientists and culture-creators and between generations. With other institutions other positive aspects are seen.


Young composers from Graham's composition class (or others under his guidance) write pieces thematically connected with exhibits in the museum. Young pianists from Susanne Kessel's piano class rehearse the works and give the first performances in a PREMIERE! concert. The performances are given as close as possible to the exhibits. Some photos here.



Performances to date:

24th Jan. 2015 K21, Düsseldorf (Gallery of Art from the 21st Century). Pupils of Susanne Kessel, for the exhibition THE PROBLEM OF GOD.

Repeated in Bonn, Galerie Judith Andreae, 19.2.2015.

Air and Space-Travel Agency, Cologne. Susanne Kessel plays music by class 8c from Tannenbusch-School, Bonn

8th Feb. 2012, Kunstmuseum Bonn. Wanderkonzert with music for and in front of the art-work which inspired it. A-level music course, Tannenbusch-School, Bonn.

24th April 2010 LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn, Beautiful Madonnas on the Rhine (for the end of the same-name exhibition).

22nd April 2009, repeated 2nd October 2009 Deutsches Museum Bonn StarPieces (in International Astronomy Year)

7th December 2007 Deutsches Museum Bonn Music meets Science (about exhibits which won Nobel-prizes)

13th May 2006 Museum Alexander Koenig, Bonn: In the Savannah (Savannah-Fauna)  


MusicLoft Aachen

Composition-courses since decades. MusicLoft, usually Saturdays 11-14h. Always with professional performances of the written pieces.

Planned: from Feb cooperation with Ludwig Forum Aachen: course for compositions inspired by the exhibition "Lust der Täuschung" with final concert June 2019.


Clara-Schumann-Musikschule, Düsseldorf

Where David P. Graham had a composition class since 1986. Now, 2016, he has retired (only from this position!) and other composers are teaching composition there.


One of the last projects with the class: a luxury: Zwischen Reisbällchen und Fortuna-Brötchen (Between Rice-balls and Fortuna-rolls). The Tonhalle Düsseldorf invited us to write 40 minutes of music fot the  E-MEX-ENSEMBLE (from Essen) around a story by Thilo Reffert about the life of a sandwich-box! A kind of live radio-play. All members of the class wrote pieces for the wonderful E-MEX-musicians and new-music-specialists! 14th November 2015.

 The major Projects during 30 years:


1989: Monas Hochzeit. Mona's Wedding. Opera. Libretto (after brainstorming with Hans-Ulrich Treichel) pupils of a Grammar-school. Performers: CSM, Music-Academy, Art-Academy, Opera-House. Conductor: Markus Stenz. Director: Stefan Hakenberg.


1991: Lisetta und ZweiVIEReins. Lisetta and TwoFOURone. Singspiel for school-children. Libretto: Duccio Pasqui. Performers: Humboldt-Grammar-School, CSM. Conductor: Hanns Hermann. Director: Horst Riemenschneider.


1996: Ein falsches Märchen. A false folk-tale. Opera. Libretto: school pupils. Performers. CSM, Music Academies. Conductor: Kai Tietje. Scenery and Direction: Jürgen Henze.


1997: Herzen in der Brust und Liebe. Hearts and Love in the Breast. Music for a revue for Heinrich Heine's 200th birthday. Performers. Humboldt-School, CSM. Idea and Direction: Horst Riemenschneider.


1999: Die Feuergeister. The Fire-Spirits. Singspiel for school-children. Libretto: Marianne Hadding. Performers: Humboldt-School, CSM. Conductor: Wilfried Steinmaßl. Director: Horst Riemenschneider.


1999: Scherenschnitt-Filme. Silhouette-Films. Music to three fairytale filmsby Lotte Reiniger. Cooperation with the Filmmuseum Düsseldorf. Performances in Düsseldorf, Bonn, Herford, Berlin.


2000: SELMA.  Oratorio in memoriam Selma Meerbaum Eisinger. Tonhalle Düsseldorf. Performers: CSM, professional musicians, FranzMuk Choir. Conductor: Odilo Klasen.


2002: Die Hexe von Norderoog. The Witch of Norderoog. Music for 11 misicians to the B/W silent film of the same name directed by Hubert Moest (1919, 60 min). With Film Museum Düsseldorf. Performance CSM, conductor Mark-Andreas Schlingensiepen.


2004: Auf der Brücke. On The Bridge. 6 short music-theatre pieces. Libretti: Pupils of Humboldt-School. Performance: CSM, Humboldt-School. Conductor: Björn Huestege. Director: Horst Riemenschneider.


2006: Vom Mädchen das nicht schlafen wollte. The Girl who didn't want to Sleep. Music for a radio play by Martin Baltscheit. Performers: Pupils of Music-School, Bonn, professional actors. Director: Thomas Werner (West German Radio). Production: Cybele Records. Broadcast in 5+1 by WDR. Nominated for the German Radio-Play Prize (for the Music).


2009: Willy und das Wunderhandy. Willy and the Magic Cellphone. Musical. Libretto: Horst Riemenschneider. Performance: Childrens' Choirs of the CSM under Justine Wanat.Conductor: Ulrich Röver. Director: Horst Riemenschneider


2011: Characters. Music for dance. Co-operation with tanzhaus nrw (Youth Ensemble JET). Players from CSM. Choreography Ulla Geiges


2013: Blutsbrüder. Blood Brothers. Music-theatre. Libretto: Pupils of Humboldt-Grammar-School based on „Blood-Brothers“ by Michael Jentsch. Performers: CSM, Humboldt-Gymnasium, RSH. Conductor: Han-Gyul Song. Director: Horst Riemenschneider.


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