Introducing a mentor into a children’s composition project: Reflections on a process.

Millie (Linda) Locke & Terry Locke (2012). Introducing a mentor into a children’s composition project: Reflections on a process. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 7(1), 8-20.


This article reports on a case study where a professional musician was assigned to a primary school as mentor in a project where 14 primary-aged children, with their teacher’s direction, were involved in the composition of a piece of music that would act as prologue to the school’s major production. The researchers were interested in aspects of the composition project that appeared to develop student’s compositional skills and motivation and how the mentor might exercise his role in the composition project alongside the teacher, who was the school’s music specialist. A range of data were analysed: classroom observations, emails, questionnaires, and one-on-one and focus-group interviews. Findings suggested that the involvement of the mentor was well received by the pupils and that the mentor and teacher complemented one another in their enactment of both pedagogical and compositional roles. Students enjoyed a high sense of success in the production of their composition. Student learnings were highly variable and a range of activities and processes were identified by students as contributing to their learning.

Watch a performance of the music on Youtube

Biographical notes

Linda Locke has worked  in schools as a music teacher for many years. She is interested in issues related to music education in the primary school context, teacher expertise, the role of music (and the arts) in the life of children and schools, and the adaptation of the Orff Schulwerk approach in New Zealand  She is currently working on a doctoral project entitled:  A critical analysis of the Orff Schulwerk in the the professional lives and practice of teachers in the New Zealand state school settings. 

Terry Locke has worked at the University of Waikato since 1997 and is Professor of English Language Education. He has written or edited a number of academic and text books, the most recent being Developing writing teachers (Routledge, 2015). He has also published books of poetry, the most recent being Ranging around the zero (Steele Roberts, 2014). His research interests, apart from music education, include the teaching of writing, fostering teacher professionalism, constructions of English as a subject and the teaching of literature. 

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This project was linked with a study conducted by Terry Locke and Viv Aitken which investigated staff and student responses to a devised school production, which involved Year 5 and 6 classes devising scenes as part of a narrative which told the story of the Waitakere Ranges. The production also involved interludes and an overture/prologue featuring music from the above study involving the APA Mentor.