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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate elementary students’ creating processes and perspectives through composition. Two fourth-grade classes took part in this action research, which consisted of creating four compositions—two with acoustic instruments and two with computer software. For each of the two sound sources, the first composition was written with specified constraints and the second with freedom. Research questions included: 1) how do students respond to composition tasks with differing levels of freedom and constraint; and 2) how does composing in different group sizes impact composition? Data included field notes, recordings, student interviews, and response forms. Major themes included: students benefit from continuous variations of freedom and constraint in task design; autonomous decisions about grouping and leadership can benefit students’ processes; and teachers must consider facilitation roles with sensitivity. Results of the study suggest that given time to compose, students can improve in ability to facilitate and participate in compositional processes.

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