Monday, January 9, 2012

Some Patience

The SFK Club Newsletter and I Wrote a Hit Song! Contest will be on hold while we rethink/revamp the design of the Songwriting for Kids website. Thank you for your patience!

If you are looking for a Songwriting Challenge, please feel free to look through the past posts below for dozens of songwriting hints and ideas.

Here's to a happy and musical new year!
Always leave 'em singing,


Friday, May 27, 2011

Spring/Summer 2011: Sounds Like a Rainbow

Do you know a friend who would  like Songwriting for Kids?  
Please send them a link to this  newsletter!

June 1 Deadline: Summer Songwriting and Fiction Writing Programs
I Wrote a Hit Song! Contest Winner
SFK Bookclub
Songwriting Challenge
Poll: Over the Rainbow


  June 1 Registration Deadline: 2011 Summer Programs


Hooray! Summer is almost here! That means there are only a few days left to sign up for  the July 18-22 session of Songwriting for Kids Vol. 1 (K-3) and Fiction Writing for Kids (3rd-5th grade). Please visit the Songwriting for Kids website to download the registration form and brochure. I can't wait!

I Wrote a Hit Song! Contest Winner

Congratulations  to Eleanor, age 12...Eleanor wrote a hit song!

Eleanor, from St. Paul, Minnesota, wrote a song called "Perfect Shade of Blue" and it is fabulous! You can read the lyrics at the I Wrote a  Hit Song! webpage. Please stop by and leave a comment for Eleanor to let  her know how much you enjoyed her song.


 SFK  Bookclub




Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix
by Gary Golio

Jimi Hendrix is one of America's music legends. In the 1960's he brought new sounds and energy to rock 'n roll and revolutionized the way people heard and thought about music. Gary Golio's new picture book tells the story of Jimi's childhood and describes how he listened to the world around him and found a way to play the rainbow of sounds he heard in his head.
"With every sound, a color glowed in Jimi's mind.
Blue was the whoosh of cool water, splashing over rocks.
Orange and red, the crackling of a campfire.
Green, the rustle of a thousand leaves."
Read more about this book...

Songwriting Challenge: Sounds Like a Rainbow

I think colors and music have a lot in common. Colors, just like sounds, can make us feel things. What do you feel when you see a bright, vibrant red? How about a pale, light blue? Or a deep brown? What sorts of things do you think of? 

In Gary Golio's book about Jimi Hendrix, he writes that Jimi tried to "paint with sound." Each different sound was like a new color in a box of paints. A high pitched screech might make you feel one thing. A low rumbling note repeated over and over feels completely different,

Eleanor, this month's I Wrote a Hit Song! winner, uses color to bring out the emotion in her song. She writes "In the days I didn't notice you/ Were your eyes this perfect shade of blue?" Instead of simply saying, "Were you always so great?" she makes the song more interesting by giving us an important, colorful detail about the person she is singing to. "This perfect shade of blue" makes us feel something more deeply than if she only mentioned the person's eyes.



Songwriting Challenge:
Can you write a Colorful Song?



Here are  some things to think about:
  1. What emotions do you want the listener to feel? Will it be a happy song? Sad? Lonely? Excited? Hopeful?
  2. What colors make you feel those same emotions? Does green give you energy? Does yellow make you happy? Does pink make you tingly? Does blue make you feel calm?
  3. Can you find ways to bring those colors into the song?
  4. Have fun!


Poll: Over the Rainbow


If you can't see the  poll, just click here. (Once you vote, you'll be able to see other  people's answers, too.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Winter 2011: Together Make it More

Do you know a friend who would like Songwriting for Kids?  
Please send them a link to this newsletter!

Save the Date: Summer Songwriting and Fiction Writing Programs
I Wrote a Hit Song! Contest Winner
SFK Bookclub
Winter Songwriting Challenge
Poll: Togetherness!


  Save the Date: 2011 Summer Programs


I'm excited to announce the dates for the 2011 summer SFK workshops. Please mark your calendars for July 18-22. We'll offer the original Songwriting for Kids Vol. 1 (K-3) session in the morning and Fiction Writing for Kids (3rd-5th grade) in the afternoon. 3rd graders who sign up for both programs are welcome to bring a lunch and stay all day. I can't wait!

I Wrote a Hit Song! Contest Winner

Congratulations to Charlotte, age 12...Charlotte wrote a hit song!

Charlotte, from Lombard, Illinois, wrote a song called "Together Make it More" and I thought the title was so great, I named the whole Winter newsletter after it! You can hear Charlotte play and sing her song at the I Wrote a Hit Song! webpage. Please stop by and leave a comment for Charlotte to let her know how much you enjoyed her song.


 SFK Bookclub

Marching For Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don't You Grow Weary

Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don't You Grow Weary
by Elizabeth Patridge
Our hit songwriter Charlotte is right: truly amazing and historic things can happen when individuals work together. In this book, Elizabeth Partridge writes about one of the great moments in American history: the Civil Rights movement. She tells the true story of the children who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. These individuals were brave enough to band together and stand up for what they believed in, and because of their courage, laws were passed that allowed African Americans the right to vote. Read more about this book to find out how music helped them on their journey...


Songwriting Challenge: Many Parts Make a Whole

You'll notice that the latest I Wrote a Hit Song! contest winner wrote a song that lists examples of things that work together to make something bigger: notes make a chord, you and I make "we." Lots of songwriters use this technique. Listing specific examples helps the listener know exactly what you are talking about.

Some songs take this even farther. The whole song can become a list of examples, and we call it a List Song. A list song usually gives a list of examples in each verse, followed by a line that sums it all up.

Famous Example: My Favorite Things by Rogers & Hammerstein. Each verse is a list of the songwriter's favorite things, ending in a sum-up line:

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;
Brown paper packages tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favorite things.
  

Winter '11 Songwriting Challenge:
Can you write a List Song?


Here are some things to think about:
  1. Think of one sentence or phrase that sums up what you want to say. Famous examples: These are a few of my favorite things, Let's fall in love, These foolish things remind me of you, It's the end of the world as we know it
  2. How many things can you think of that fit with your sum-up sentence? See if you can fill a whole page with examples.
  3. Pick the best ones and arrange them in verses.
  4. Do you want it to rhyme?
  5. Do you want to have a chorus? A bridge?
  6. Have fun!

Poll: Togetherness!



If you can't see the poll, just click here. (Once you vote, you'll be able to see other people's answers, too.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fall 2010: Won't You Play a Simple Melody?

Do you know a friend who would like Songwriting for Kids?  
Please send them a link to this newsletter!

The Moon Shines Bright onto the River
I Wrote a Hit Song! Contest Winner
SFK Bookclub
Fall Songwriting Challenge
Poll: Hearing Isn't Everything


  The Moon Shines Bright onto the River


This year's summer programs were so much fun. If you haven't already had a chance, please stop by the Listening Room to hear the 2010 Class Song, "The Moon Shines Bright onto the River." While you're at it, you can listen to songs from previous years as well!

I Wrote a Hit Song! Contest Winner

Congratulations to Hannah, age 10...Hannah wrote a hit song!

Hannah, from Nibley, Utah, wrote a song called "Believe" and you can hear her play it on piano at the I Wrote a Hit Song! webpage. It's a beautiful instrumental song that Hannah wrote because as she wrote in her email, "it helps me believe." Please stop by and leave a comment for Hannah to let her know how much you enjoyed her song.


 SFK Bookclub

The Arrival

The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Okay, this isn't a book about music at all. So what is it doing in the SFK Bookclub? Well, since this issue of the newsletter is devoted to songs without words, I thought I'd feature my favorite book without words. Shaun Tan's book is entirely told in pictures, and it took him five years to write! Read more about this book...


Songwriting Challenge: Won't You Play a Simple Melody?


Since the latest I Wrote a Hit Song! contest winner wrote a terrific song without any words at all, your challenge is to try to tell a musical story without words. There are lots of ways to do it. In my song, Lullaby, I tried to capture a calm, soothing mood using only keyboard and humming.

Fall '10 Songwriting Challenge:
Can you write an instrumental song?


Here are some things to think about:
  1. What kind of mood do you want the listener to feel? Happy? Excited? Sad? Scared?
  2. How will the music you play need to sound in order to create that mood? Will it be fast? Slow? Loud? Soft?
  3. What instrument will you play it on? Don't play an instrument? Try humming, or singing fake words (da-da, dee-bah). The great jazz singers did that all the time...they called it "scat" singing!
  4. Let the music change and grow. A story or song that is exactly the same all the way through will get boring. Perhaps there could be a soft moment in your loud song. Or a part where your quiet song gets more intense, or the melody shifts higher or lower or changes completely.
  5. Have fun!

Poll: Hearing Isn't Everything

If you can't see the poll, just click here. (Once you vote, you'll be able to see other people's answers, too.)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Spring 2010: Losing It

Do you know a friend who would like Songwriting for Kids?  
Please send them a link to this newsletter!

Summer Workshop Deadline: June 1st
I Wrote a Hit Song! Contest Winner
SFK Bookclub
Spring Songwriting Challenge
Poll: You'd Lose Your Head If It Wasn't Screwed On!


  Summer Workshop Deadline: June 1st



Registration is now open for my summer workshops at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. I can't wait to see all the creative work that my students will come up with this year...hope you can join us!

July 12-16, 2010
Songwriting for Kids Vol. 1 (K-3), 8:30am-12:00pm
Fiction Writing for Kids (grades 3-5), 1:30pm-5:00pm

July 19-23, 2010
Songwriting for Kids Vol. 2 (K-3), 8:30am-12:00pm
Poetry Writing for Kids (grades 3-5), 1:30pm-5:00pm


For more information and to register, please visit www.songwritingforkids.com.

I Wrote a Hit Song! Contest Winner

Congratulations to Lucy, age 9...Lucy wrote a hit song!

Lucy, from Woolwich, Maine, wrote a song called "When a Bluejay Dies" and you can view the lyrics at the I Wrote a Hit Song! webpage. It's a heartfelt song about the circle of life. Please stop by and leave a comment for Lucy to let her know how much you enjoyed her song.


 SFK Bookclub



Learn to Speak Music by John Crossingham
For any kid who's ever wanted to write a song, start a band, record music, or play a gig...Learn to Speak Music is a book well worth checking out! Read more about this book...


Songwriting Challenge: Losing It

Everybody loses something sometime or another. We lose books, toys, keys, socks. We lose dogs, cats, people we love. We lose our tempers, we lose our train of thought. Sometimes it even feels like we lose our minds!

Losing things can be hard. But think about all the great songs that are written because of something lost. Lucy (this quarter's I Wrote a Hit Song! contest winner) wrote a terrific song about losing a blue jay. There are all kinds of songs about losing pets "Old Blue," "Oh Where Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?," "The Cat Came Back." My own song Evangeline is based on a Longfellow poem about a girl who loses her true love.

Spring '10 Songwriting Challenge:
Can you write a song about something lost?


Here are some things to think about:
  1. What's something you've lost recently? Write about that.
  2. Will your song be funny or serious, happy or sad? A song about losing a grandparent could be beautiful and sad, but you could also write a fun song about losing a tooth, or a mysterious song about a missing key or a long lost treasure map.
  3. Give some details. How did you lose it? Did you find it again? What did you like or dislike about the thing you lost?
  4. Write about how you feel. Are you glad the thing you've lost is gone? Sad? Worried? Relieved? How will you feel when and if you find it?
  5. Have fun!
Here's a goofy song from Sesame Street about a lost cookie:



Poll: You'd Lose Your Head If It Wasn't Screwed On!

If you can't see the poll, just click here. (Once you vote, you'll be able to see other people's answers, too.)