Course Syllabus





Mr. Steven Scott, Songwriting Teacher 


This course is for students who want to learn to write and record songs in any style(s) of their choosing. There is no required prior musical knowledge, experience or ability to play an instrument. Just bring your love for music and a desire to write a song. Students who do possess prior experience will be able to put it to good use. In this class you will gradually learn about basic songwriting form, structure, rhythm, chords and melody—all at your own pace. For students who want to sing or rap on their songs we can also work on lyric writing, but this is not required. Students will also learn recording studio techniques using current recording software, mixer and microphones. There are no tests, quizzes or finals in this class. Just your songs. The final result of this course will be a full album of your own music. All are welcome!

Students will learn to operate a digital audio workstation (DAW) with a MIDI keyboard. They will also learn about current digital recording techniques, miking and mixing techniques, and how these pertain to current careers in music such as “recording engineering” and “studio production.” While employing technology, students will simultaneously gain songwriting skills in the style(s) of their choosing. By the end of this course, students will have completed approximately ten original songs using the technology and composition skills introduced in class.


Upon successful completion of this course, all students will be able to:

  • Identify examples of the use of music technology in the modern music industry.
  • Use music software to compose a song, hear it, and convert it to .mp3, .wav or .aif
  • Operate a modern MIDI controller’s basic functions to perform music.
  • Set-up a USB MIDI connection between a MIDI controller and a computer.
  • Work with basic music theory (major & minor scales and chords) to compose music.
  • Compose a multi-layered piece of music using MIDI/DAW software.
  • Edit sounds and create new sounds from a software synthesizer's pre-set patches.
  • Record live musicians using digital recording software (DAW).
  • Combine live and MIDI performances in one recorded sequence.
  • Produce a refined recording by editing and mixing parts, and adding effects.
  • Convert audio files to MP3, WAV, or AIFF formats.
  • Identify careers where music technology/composition skills can be applied.




Course Outline

Unit 1 (Sem. 1): Computer-Assisted Composition & Sound Synthesis

Hardware: Macintosh computer

Software: GarageBand


Unit 2 (Sem. 1): Intro to MIDI & Music Theory

Hardware: Oxygen 61 or Korg X5D & GarageBand pre-set patches.


Unit 3 (Sem. 1): MIDI & Sequencing, continued theory work

Hardware: Macintosh computer, MIDI interface, MIDI controller

Software: GarageBand


Unit 4 (Sem. 2): Recording Technology

Hardware: microphones, cables, mixer, audio interface, Macintosh computer

Software: LogicPro, Ableton Live, ProTools


Unit 6 (Sem. 2): TV Commercial Jingle & Film Score Composition

Hardware: Macintosh computer, MIDI interface, MIDI controller

Software: GarageBand, LogicPro


Unit 7: Assemble Portfolios

Hardware: Mac

Software: iTunes

*note*: this process is ongoing throughout the year. Students are encouraged to SHARE their work with each other and their family/friends!




Assignments, Grading & Administrivia 

Projects - 65%

Students will complete approximately three projects per term. All projects will be weighted equally. Projects will be graded based on competent use of assigned technology skills and evidence of applied theory and composition skill work covered in class/individually. A "Project Assessment Sheet" will be filled out by the student for each assignment covering what was included musically, a basic formal (structural) plan, technology skills covered, and a self-assessment upon completion. *NOTE: Completion of this planning sheet will comprise 25% of the students' grade on each project. All pieces will be played for the class on the day they are due. Be creative, take chances, and have fun!

Portfolio - 10%

Students should keep a portfolio in which all of their technology/composition projects (printouts, handouts, etc.) will be kept. The purpose of this portfolio is to document student growth and plot future instruction. Portfolios will be graded based on completeness.

Daily Preparation and Class Participation - 25%

Students MUST come to class each day with headphones, all notes, handouts, or other resources needed to actively participate. In many cases, productive use of computer-lab time will depend on students having completed outside preparation for class. On the day projects are due, students will listen to and discuss each others' work. This can be where the greatest learning takes place as long as students participate effectively and listen carefully. Remember this is personal expression we will be discussing, so praise loudly and criticize constructively and gently! Students who receive a class cut will receive a zero in participation for the day of the cut.




All students should have:

  • 1 folder (thin folder with two pockets- NOT a big binder) to keep handouts in and to assemble your portfolio.
  • 1 pair of headphones or “earbuds,” etc.


About the instructor


Steven Scott has been teaching instrumental music and music technology at Wellesley High School for the past nineteen years. Ensembles under Mr. Scott's direction have received state and national recognition—performing at venues including Boston Symphony Hall, Mechanics Hall in Worcester, the Boston Hatch Shell, Fenway Park, Manhattan School of Music, and at Lincoln Center with master classes from Wynton Marsalis. Ensemble accolades include consistent gold medal ratings at MICCA Concert Band Festivals and MAJE Jazz Festivals, being named a National Finalist for the Charles Mingus High School Competition, and four times a National Finalist in the Essentially Ellington Competition. Mr. Scott has also served as a Teaching Associate at Boston University teaching music technology and instrumental repertoire. He and the WHS Wind Ensemble have been featured performers at the Massachusetts Music Educators Association All-State Conference where Mr. Scott has also been a music technology presenter in the past. Mr. Scott has taken part in a number of music education conferences and has had master conducting classes with Herb Pomeroy and Peter Loel Boonshaft. He earned a B.S. in Music Education from The College of St. Rose in Albany, N.Y. where he was named the Theodore Presser Scholar, and a M.A. in Music Education from the Eastman School of Music where he studied with composers Sidney Hodkinson and Fred Sturm. He is currently completing a second masters degree in Music Production at Berklee College of Music.

Students in the Wellesley Band Program begin instrumental lessons in 4th grade in our after-school Extension Lesson program. All lessons take place at WHS or WMS, and meet for a half-hour once per week. As students progress they join the Wellesley All-Town Band taught by Ms. Julie Verret and Mr. Dave Adams. All-Town Band meets weekly as separate groups in each of our seven elementaries, and then once per month as a full ensemble. At Wellesley Middle School students advance to the 6th, 7th and 8th Grade Bands all of which are also taught by Mr. Adams during the school day. At the end of the 8th grade all students may enroll in the WHS Concert Band and some advanced players are recommended to audition for the Wind Ensemble.

Course Summary:

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