Encourage Kids To Compose At The Piano
You should encourage kids to compose at the piano whenever possible. Kids have no idea what composers really are, and so they readily try to write music. They all succeed to some degree. I’ve seen five year-olds come up with bits of tunes that could easily, in the right hands, be a Broadway show tune or some other popular genre. I’ve also seen music and piano teachers get very critical with these compositions. As long as a child offers me an original work, I am going to praise the effort no matter how inane the content. I have teenage students who compose, and they actively seek my advice. With these students one can be much more critical.
Appreciate Their Composition
So if a nine year old offers you their barely disguised version of the Moonlight Sonata, I would applaud the effort rather than try to actually influence their non-existent composing skills. It is the imitation of the act of composing that is to be applauded, not the content. A child who tries to compose is telling you, “This is easy and fun,” which is the first sign your piano teaching is succeeding. Any kid who treats the piano like a toy and gets something out of it is on the right track.
Be Their Uncredited Co-Author
Many times I will, in essence, write the piece with them, but be clever enough to not take credit. This process will show the child how a composer works. It is the detail that escapes them, and rightly so. Don’t bring up concepts they cannot control. It is enough that they unilaterally took the helm and tried to sail the ship. It is my praise that connects them to the piano and makes them want to try more composition.
Don't Dispel Their Childish Illusions
Don’t expect a prolific oeuvre. Most early child composers just want to try it and pretend they can compose. I wouldn’t dispel their illusions. Every teenage composer I have developed started in this way, with a casual fling at composing, followed by months or years of inactivity. But by sowing the seeds with praise, these kids will later get serious and try to come up with more elaborate, original musical works.