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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hamlet with second-graders: a peek into the songwriting process

Many of you know that I write lots of songs with kids based on what they're studying. Right now I'm involved in three school songwriting projects, one of which is an original musical based on Hamlet with my wife's second-grade class.

I've found that people often don't totally understand the songwriting with kids thing until they actually experience it in person. I thought it would be fun to share one of my projects online so that teachers and parents can see how it's done.

Just now I posted rough drafts of four songs for the Hamlet show. They're currently in "blah blah" form, which means that kids need to write lyrics to replace the nonsense sounds I'm making on these You Tube videos. They're going to do that for homework tonight -- and they have the option of using these videos to help them. Some kids work better when simply asked to "write a poem" and won't use these videos at all. Others will spend a lot of time crafting words to go with these little tunes.

Another option: Try having kids write lyrics to familiar tunes like "I've Been Working on the Railroad," "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," etc. I do this with many classes. My wife's kids were ready to jump right into the original songs so I skipped ahead.

By the way, these tunes are all original, written by me, and copyrighted. Feel free to use them in your classroom or home for instructional purposes. Please write me at thedeedledeedledees AT yahoo DOT com if you'd like to use them in a performance or for any commercial purpose -- I'll say yes or no depending on what you want to do.

These are all working titles:

Tush Tush:


More Than Kin:

North by Northwest: