Composer, teacher &
award-winning business owner

Music educator Rachel Shapey is on a mission to make music composition accessible to all.


From the age of five, when I first sat down at the piano, music has been my passion. Now, I help ignite this same passion in the young musicians of today.

Through my online composition platform I Can Compose, my Collins Music composition book How to Teach Composition in the Secondary Classroom: 50 Inspiring Ideas, and guest presenting arrangements, I share tried and tested knowledge, techniques and resources to inspire and empower the next generation of composers.

My Story

My journey in music began in early childhood, when I learned to play the piano, flute, and then the organ. I was always heavily involved in music and fortunately, it was something I had both a flair for and a drive to pursue.

I was first tasked with composing something myself during my music GCSE, and it was then that I discovered my hidden talent for music composition. It was a revelation that would set the wheels in motion for my choice of career – although I didn’t know it yet.


Listen & Celebrate Key Stage 3: Activities to enrich and diversify Key Stage 3 music

Listen and celebrate Key Stage 3 is designed to help teachers enrich and diversify Key Stage 3 music by introducing a selection of 15 pieces from a range of countries and styles, celebrating the people who wrote the music and offering an immersive experience through active listening and composing activities.

Learn More About the Book
As well as supporting National Curriculum objectives for Key Stage 3, this book will help bring breadth and depth to students’ musical experience and understanding, offering a glimpse of the huge variety of music in the world and featuring composers from a range of backgrounds and experiences.

• Background information to provide context and inspire
• Active listening activities
• Composing activities
• Guidance on differentiation and assessment
• ‘Taking it further’ ideas

Online resources:
• Display sheets
• Information sheets to provide further context
• Composition planning sheets
• Supporting visual sheets
• Links to video clips

Please note audio is NOT supplied as part of this resource, but guidance is given on how to find recordings online.

How to Teach Composition in the Secondary Classroom: 50 Inspiring Ideas

My music composition book How to Teach Composition in the Secondary Classroom: 50 Inspiring Ideas was published in 2021 by Collins Music with the aim of inspiring and empowering teachers and students alike.

Packed with versatile ideas and tips, How to Teach Composition in the Secondary Classroom is a music composition textbook for teachers that’s adaptable to all secondary music classrooms.

Read A Review – By Music Teacher Magazine

Learn More About the Book
An accessible music composition resource

The product of 12 years’ classroom teaching, my music composition guidebook is written with awareness that all classes are different. During my career I’ve taught at inner-city schools and in the independent sector, working with students of all abilities.

How to Teach Composition in the Secondary Classroom outlines 50 music composition ideas that are easy to digest, understand and implement.

Within the pages you’ll find pieces ranging from basic ideas to more challenging projects for the ablest of students, covering everything from engaging starter activities to how to compose a fanfare and guidance on choosing notation software.

All of my music composition ideas and tips are tried and tested, and there’s plenty of material to guide teachers at all levels, from those new to the job to experienced Heads of Music.

Inspiring the next generation of composers

How to Teach Composition in the Secondary Classroom is a handbook that teachers can dip into easily to seek out inspiration and a range of ideas they can adapt for their own classrooms.

I’m confident that fellow music teachers will find How to Teach Composition in the Secondary Classroom a valuable A-Level and GCSE music composition resource that supports them in inspiring, empowering and shaping the next generation of music composers.

Presenting and speaking

As an expert in the niche area of teaching music composition for secondary level students, I regularly share my knowledge and ideas with teachers and education staff by speaking at events and conferences.

In 2019 I was honoured to present at the Manchester Music and Drama Education Expo, where I shared composition ideas for lessons and activities designed to engage secondary school students. I also led a training workshop for the PGCE Music students at Birmingham City University.

I’ve delivered sessions at Regional Heads of Music meetings, as well as the Listen, Imagine, Compose virtual Away Day in 2020, and will be presenting at the 2021 Music Teachers’ Association Virtual Conference.

In addition, I facilitate face-to-face teacher training in secondary music composition via educational companies, and through I Can Compose.

Why I speak about teaching secondary level music composition

Presenting is something I enjoy, because it gives me a platform for inspiring others.

My own career journey from a classroom music teacher to an author and award-winning business owner hasn’t always been smooth; if you’ve read My Story, you’ll know that I received a potentially life-changing diagnosis in my early teaching years.

It’s this resilience and commitment to innovation and creativity that I bring to my speaking and training arrangements, where I cover all aspects of teaching KS3, GCSE and A Level music composition for music hubs, educational organisations, teachers and trainee teachers. Uniquely, I have the experience of having been in the classroom with these age groups myself; I know the challenges.

I’m also a creator: my music composition textbook for teachers How to Teach Composition in the Secondary Classroom was published by Collins Music in 2021, and I launched my award-winning music composition platform I Can Compose in 2018.

If you’d like me to speak at your event, training session or conference, I’m available for presenting engagements across the UK – just get in touch to find out more.

Composer, teacher and award-winning business owner on a mission to make music composition accessible to all.