PJHS "Meets The Composer"

Mrs. Connie Ericksen, Contributors: Autumn Hernandez, Elizabeth Giles, Krysti Morgan
Composer Darryl Johnson II Visits PJHS
Checking in at the Office
Making Music Electronically
Playing Mr. Johnson's Piece

Band students are typically situated at the end of a long process of making music. They are issued a clean printed page of black symbols on white background and then begin the process of decoding the symbols in order to create sound. The audience that hears the band’s interpretation is yet one more step—and the last step--away from what starts with a composer.

A composer is a person who writes music, especially as a professional occupation.

In an effort to broaden our students’ appreciation for and understanding of the musical creation process, we invited an accomplished band composer, Darryl Johnson II, to come to our school and work with our band students. After giving us insights into the piece he had composed, he took us back to the place where every band concert starts—with a musical idea. As a class, we developed our musical ideas and, step-by-step, created a piece of band literature.

Student Autumn Hernandez stated, "I'm really inspired to start writing my own music..." and Fiona Ashton-Knochel said, "He mentored us and [one] thing I learned was how to play expressively."

Additionally, Elizabeth Giles expounded on the writing process, "I've been wanting to compose for a while and the composer's tips helped me a lot. Also, I learned there will always be revisions..."

Finally, Kyrsti Morgan reflected, " It was interesting to hear the composer talk about how his ideas formed and then he turned them into a song. It was great that he started small and them expanded into a bigger part."

Darryl Johnson II (b. 1984) is a native of Southern California. An early interest in music led him to study several instruments as well as music theory, composition, and orchestration. A lengthy background in music transcription and arranging fostered a growing interest in diverse musical styles. Now he enjoys making guest appearances with middle, junior, high school and college students via his “meet the composer” program. This program fulfills multiple components of the music education standards for every state and complements the music education curriculum. The PJHS administration supported the idea of broadening student perspective and arranged for funding to bring Mr. Johnson to our school.