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Today’s ever-changing contexts of music and music education demand that composers are increasingly required to be an artistic voice for the communities in which they live and work. Yet much teaching of composing in third-level institutions in Ireland, while developing a high level of musical craftsmanship, often fail to promote the vital connection between those skills and the social and civic contexts in which many composers work. The aim of this project was to enhance the learning experience of students in the Conservatory of Music and Drama by giving them the opportunity to apply, adapt, and transfer their musical knowledge and skills through leading composition workshops in a primary school, and composing works appropriate for junior performance groups.

Working within a qualitative research paradigm and with a focus on reflective practice, data collection included questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and reflective journals. The projected outcomes included the development of the composers’ critical reflection on the nature and social responsibility of their creative work and a growing awareness of the importance of composition processes in the emerging artistry of children. The study also has wider implications for curriculum development in the Conservatory of Music and Drama, for primary teachers’ professional development and the development of resources for teaching.