Arranging Music for a Band

Arrange an original composition for your high school band.


  • Essential Question: How do musicians generate ideas, make creative decisions, and decide when creative work is ready to share?
  • Area(s) of Study: Music
  • Amount of credit earned: 0.5 Music elective credit
  • Community Partner: Band director


  • Use sound to represent ideas.
  • Use sound to make expressive statements.
  • Demonstrate the development of sounds and extended musical ideas in drafts of music.
  • Share music through the use of notation, solo or group performance, or technology.

See the detailed ELO description for the full text of these competencies.

Student Activities

  • Learn to use Sibelius Music Notation software.
  • Break chords into individual notes and assign these to various instruments based on that instrument’s range. Some instruments won’t be able to hit certain notes in those chords so adjustments will need to be made.
  • Assign melodies to specific instruments based on range and musicians’ skill levels. For example, flutes are used in a specific way because the soft timbre of the instrument complements the melody.
  • Arrange music into a final score.
  • Create practice tracks for musicians to practice at home.
  • Assist musicians with their parts.
  • Assist band instructor during band and make adjustments to the score as needed.
  • Perform the final arrangement.


Student was assessed through a journal/hours tracker. Each time the student sat down to work, he recorded his start and end time as well as a short description of what he did during that time. He checked in frequently (2-5 times per week) with the band director/advising teacher to discuss progress and review the score. Once the piece was arranged, additional assessment was ongoing as the band worked through the piece. A section, for example, may have been beyond the skill level of a certain player and the student would have to make adjustments without sacrificing his vision. Also, because the student does not play all the band instruments, he didn’t allow time for certain players to breathe and so, he had to divide the parts between the musicians in that section. Aside from the final performance, the student presented his learning experience to the ELO team using a Google Slides presentation.

More information

For this ELO, the student had already composed the piece using MIDI, and recorded other live instruments in Garageband. It was helpful for him to have that as a starting point. He is going to do this again next year, but will likely be starting from scratch and the plan is for him to, in addition to composing the piece, actually conduct the band during the performance.

This ELO was submitted by Ryan Levasseur, School-to-Career Transition Counselor at Newmarket Junior/Senior High School. Email Ryan for more information