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Composition - Thinking Across Genres

Paul in an Ear Opener video

A CPD workshop with Paul Clark (Clod Ensemble, Ear Opener)

Building on insights and techniques developed through CLOD Ensemble’s Ear Opener programme, this 3 hour CPD training is here to offer simple solutions for music teachers teaching composition at FE level.

Through interactive discussions and exercises we will address questions such as:

  • How can I encourage students to accept guidance in how to improve their work?
  • What is best way to critique students’ work which is written in a genre that I don’t know much about, or even like?
  • How can I give guidance without spoiling what is good in their track by over-complicating it?
  • How can I help my students understand the virtues of simplicity?

This CPD will be led by award-winning composer and creator of the Ear Opener video series, Paul Clark. Participants will be invited to share their own experiences working in schools and colleges, along with techniques and tips that have worked for them.

This session will be in 2 parts:

  1. Simplicity/Complexity: exploding myths about musical genres
  2. Tension/Release - how it works in different genres

Learning outcomes

  • Develop confidence in supporting students composing in any musical genre – especially genres that you don’t personally enjoy or have much expertise in.
  • Identify common issues young people face when writing music and learn practical ways of supporting students to overcome these.
  • Find common languages for discussing musical ideas.
  • Develop ways of actively supporting critical discussion around composition.

Who is this session for?

  • Music teachers who teach composition to students aged 16-25 (This includes UAL qualifications at Level 1 - 4 as well as BTEC, GCSE and A Level Music).

About the facilitator

Paul Clark

Paul has over 30 years of experience as a composer collaborating with a hugely diverse range of artists - from producer Danger Mouse to opera superstar Renee Fleming, from orchestras in Cairo and Kuwait to Mark E Smith (The Fall). He also has 15 years experience helping young people to develop tools for writing their own music, whatever the genre. Paul is Co-Artistic Director of acclaimed performance company Clod Ensemble.

What is Ear Opener?

Ear Opener is a free youtube channel and a programme of work with educators and music students, aiming to demystify the process of writing music. The Ear Opener videos are not a ‘how to’ guide. They are conversations with 9 musicians who are very different to each other - different genres, different ages, different education and different profile - from world famous; Brian Eno and Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien; to up-and-coming; Mercury nominee Cassie Kinoshi and Anglo-Bahraini jazz artist Yazz Ahmed. Ear Opener acknowledges and celebrates that there are a million of ways of making brilliant music. In addition to the Youtube channel, the Ear Opener programme of live in-school courses for GCSE and A-Level Music students has an average result of grade A.

Not tried Ear Opener yet? Get started with:

Social media handles

Twitter: @ear_opener

Instagram: @ear_opener

Facebook: @EarOpenerVideos

YouTube: Ear Opener


Ear Opener Trailer


If you have questions about the UAL Awarding Body CPD programme, please email

View our CPD Terms and Conditions (PDF 126K)