I love composing music with my students. They get a lot out of the exercise and they don’t even realize that they are learning! Plus they have something they made to show for it! It’s a win-win-win-WIN situation!
When students have a challenging time with a new rhythmic concept I will encourage them to make up a song with that rhythm, but I switch it up and have them make up a silly sentence with that rhythm. Once they have that sentence (which makes them crack up!) the rhythm becomes much easier. AND when they put it into a song of their creation they tend to have an easier time remembering how to work with the rhythm.
Sometimes practicing is a challenge for students who have been working on piano for a year or so. I get them composing in class and then assign their own work for homework with the aim to record it. Practicing tends to increase when I do this.
If we are learning something new theoretically I’ll ask students to compose with those elements in their piece. Nothing reinforces a new idea better than having a student use the idea and then demonstrate how the idea works within their own work.
Students can sometimes feel like they aren’t being creative with their music. They tend to learn music by other people and have to follow the instructions within the piece rather than making their own musical choices. Composing allows creative students to take ownership of their music making.
Composing is a great opportunity to engage and empower students! We have so much fun and learn so much when we compose!