To answer this question most simply would be to say that students are able to create something without having first to “learn” music theory. To make an analogy to the visual art classroom it is similar to the way in which every student is afforded the opportunity to explore the techniques of creating their work through actually making their piece of art.
This philosophy is a guiding principle of YCIW. It is sometimes described as “sound before theory.” Yes, there are certainly times when exploring and naming compositional techniques but we strive to give students the opportunity to mess around with their music before having to do it any particular way. Teaching composition in this way is what allows every student to express themselves through making their own music.
Right from the very beginning students can begin to create music without having to learn anything first. For example, we let students begin organizing notes without even having to know what a note is or anything about the musical staff. They learn these concept through making their music.
When composing their first melody students can simply click and drag their notes in Noteflight to arrange a musical shape that they like. They can use the alpha keyboard as they enter notes to learn the letters of the staff. Being able to play their music back gives them instant feedback and helps them begin to comprehend how rhythm relates to the notation.
The final outcome of having a successful composition that the student feels connected to and is proud of far out ways the importance of being able to recite music theory rules. What’s more is that these successes bread the desire to focus on theoretical details when the time is right.