NT’s Top Ten Songwriting Tips

  1. Do it everyday! Have a writing routine and make sure you stick to it. Lately I have got into the habit of writing something at the piano just before dinner – I find there’s something about being hungry that makes me really creative! Saying that, It doesn’t matter where you are. The great thing about songwriting is you don’t have to be at the piano – in fact a lot of my songs were written in the car whilst driving. But this discipline of writing everyday means in time you will have collected a huge volume of songs or song ideas. The best songs will start to make themselves known because you’ll want to keep singing them.
  2. Don’t forget your ideas! Make sure you keep a notebook with you at all times. This can be digital or paper or in my case both. When I started writing songs I’d record everything onto a cassette tape but now I use the Voice Memo recorder on my phone. There’s lots of great phone apps – I’ve used one called Music Memos which is very cool.
  3. Always be in songwriting mode! Observe the world around you and listen carefully to the things people say and how they say it. Also, your own thoughts, dreams and things you see and hear all around you are rich with potential song ideas, titles, rhythms or melodies.
  4. Set yourself a challenge! Be strict with yourself. Write a song in a given time frame. Give yourself a topic to write about. Write a song that has loads of chords in it. Write using 2 chords only. Write a complete song a day for a whole month. If you always write on guitar try writing on piano or another instrument. These challenges will create some interesting songs!
  5. Embrace technology! There are so many free music apps available. Try using the music you can create on these as a starting point for a song. It could be a drum pattern or a complete backing track. Try writing a song over the top. If you can afford it buy a drum machine or a synthesiser. See where the sounds take you.
  6. Have high standards! Even if you’re doing this for fun ask yourself – Is this lyric the best it can be? Is this melody memorable? Do I like this song? If not, don’t be afraid to rewrite.
  7. Experiment! Rules are made to be broken! When you’ve written a song why don’t you try moving the verses around, start with the chorus, make the bridge section longer, insert an instrumental section, try a key change, get rid of the introduction, add an extra bar at the end of the second verse, add a pre-chorus, try slowing down or speeding the song up, try singing it in a different key(higher or lower). Obviously you don’t have to do all of these things all at once in every song, but you can try it!
  8. Sing out loud! Try singing the melody out loud. Is it memorable? If you sing it to your friends or family can they sing it back to you easily after one listen? If not, work on it until it’s so catchy they can’t get it out of their heads! Is the melody of the verses different from the melody in the chorus? If not try starting the chorus on a different note – see what happens. Look at the shape of the melody in the verses and make sure the shape of the chorus is different enough to stand out and be memorable.
  9. Get rid of words you don’t need! Often you will have a lot of words you don’t need just getting in the way of the singing and melody i.e. just, so, that… Remove them and see what happens!
  10. Co-write! Writing songs with others is great fun and can be very productive. But don’t forget to listen to each other and respect them. Don’t go with a blank piece of paper. Take your ideas note book with you. That way you’ll always have something to work from. Recognise a good idea and don’t be upset if your ideas don’t get chosen. It doesn’t mean they’re bad ideas they just may not fit the song you’re working on right now. Be passionate and enthusiastic and write great songs because you love writing and not because you want to be famous or rich!
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It’s Time / Best Day of My Life – Balcarras Vocal Project

Balcarras Vocal Project

 
With funding from Make Music Gloucestershire, the county’s music education hub, the Songwriting Charity has partnered with Balcarras School to start a brand new secondary school vocal group. The project has worked with 40 singers from across key stage 3 and 4 singing  well-known repertoire with a twist, with vocal arrangements by Ben O’Sullivan, our Director of Progammes. The debut performance of the vocal group took place at the Balcarras spring concert and below is the video from the memorable recording day at the magical Tithe Barn at Postlip Hall.

We hope this is one of many new vocal projects, joining hands with schools and venues across the county to reach more and more young people.

Please see our website for more, where you can see the many ways in which the Songwriting Charity changes the lives of young people through song and support our work through BT my donate, where every penny of your donation goes towards our work: https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/thesongwritingcharity
If you think your school would like to do something similar, please contact ben@songwritingcharity.org

Together We Can Achieve More

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Together We Can Achieve More

A beautiful and very emotive song written by a small group of children from across year groups at Highfield Primary School, Enfield. Thank you to Ms Genia Fussco and the children for a truly memorable day. Such a lovely song, one that resonates on a many levels.

Our work in Enfield is made possible by the support of the Enfield Music Service. Thank you to Mea Jenkins and Kim Hember for their encouragement and financial support. The Enfield Music Service, making music make a difference in partnership with The Songwriting Charity.

‘I Don’t Like It’ by Great Wakering Primary School

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‘I Don’t Like It’ is a poignant anti-bullying pop song written by children at Great Wakering Primary School, Essex. We’d like to thank Ms. Jo Brown for her encouragement and support and say well done to all the children who took part in the workshops. The song is very moving and contains important anti-bullying messages and we’re so pleased to hear that the group taught their school the song! Great work and look forward to seeing everyone at Great Wakering again in 2014.

About Bully Beat in Essex
Our second Bully Beat project in Essex primary schools is supported by the Essex Music Education Hub, with generous music technology support granted by Korg Education. Bully Beat has been designed to enthuse primary aged children about the process of lyric writing, singing, music arranging and contemporary production whilst promoting a serious anti-bullying message. We’re using informal music education and literacy working to communicate a range of key messages. Every song is written by the children. We record, produce and publish the songs at the end of the process.

Thoughts from the classroom

We kick off 2014 with the first of many guest blogs. Thanks to Mrs Amy Vinnicombe for answering our call and responding to today’s news about the increase in the reporting of cyber-bullying and racist bullying to Childline.
“Technology is great – I can’t deny that my teaching has become more exciting and interactive with the introduction of laptops for all and what would I do without the use of twitter as a source of inspiration?  Neither can I deny that some children engage better with a machine than with pencil and paper.  Many young people have such easy access to these gadgets and know how to do amazing things with them (I am not ashamed to admit that my class of 10/11 years old regularly teach me how to use an ipad!)  The distressing thing for me, however, is that with this progress in technology comes a new way of people to bully each other.
Childline has reported that the number of young people reporting cyber-bullying almost doubled in the academic year 2012-13, compared to the previous year:  4, 507 young people being bullied through the use of this new technology.This appears a frightening and disheartening statistic – yet, one glimmer of positivity we can see through this is that the Anti-Bullying mantra of ‘TELL SOMEONE’ is getting through.  Through anti-bullying weeks and the amazing work and support provided by people like those at the Songwriting Charity, our young people are aware that if they are being bullied, they should tell someone they trust. Quoting pupils in my own class, ‘telling is cool when you do it in school’.

For ten years now, I have reassured my pupils that I will be able to help them if they are being bullied and, touch wood, I have kept my word.  And yet this new information seriously concerns me.   Although pupils know that bullying is wrong, it is still happening.  Although many young people are seeking advice when they’re being bullied, what is happening to those who don’t ‘TELL SOMEONE’?

In the recent shake up of the Primary Curriculum, it has become statutory to teach pupils from the age of 5 about Internet Safety – this is of course vital and a positive change in the programme of study.  However, anti-bullying education and internet safety talks cannot simply be confined to one week, or one unit a year – they have to be part of the fabric of all teaching; part of the fabric of a school.”

Mrs Vinnicombe
Edward Francis Primary School
Rayleigh
Essex
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Kindness holds key as children sing out anti-bullying message

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Encouraging children to be kind and help each other will be the focus for anti-bullying week in Gloucestershire.

Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning (GHLL) has joined up with the Songwriting Charity to run 18 workshops in schools throughout the county in November. More than 500 children from 17 primary schools and one secondary school will be involved in producing their own songs and videos.

The aim of the workshops is to encourage young people to be kind to each other, promote positive behaviour and to raise confidence levels. The main activity will be focused around anti-bullying week, which runs from November 18th to 22nd.

Young people in school are being supported to write, rehearse and record an original song and video which will be uploaded to the Songwriting Charity website on the same day. It is free for the children to download and schools can use the songs for presentations and assemblies or for use in their communities.

The schools will also be encouraged to use ‘Bottles of Kindness’ to help young people record their acts of kindness and see the impact of the choices they make. Lessons plans will be provided to support this.

The first workshop ran at Gotherington Primary School on November 12th and this is the song that the Year Four pupils produced: https://soundcloud.com/the-songwriting-charity/sets/something-kind The video is at http://youtu.be/qopL9K-0fQY

The other primary schools taking part in November are St Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary, Tibberton, Gretton, The John Moore, Picklenash, Queen Margaret Primary in Tewkesbury, Staunton and Corse and Highnam. The secondary school taking part is Newent Community School. Other schools will be booked in for December.

The focus is on schools in the most rural parts of Gloucestershire, ensuring those with least access to the arts are given new opportunities to participate.

Cllr Dorcas Binns, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities, said: “We know from the Online Pupil Survey that an increasing number of young people feel confident in how their school deals with bullying but it’s vital that we keep up the good work.

“We are always looking for new ways to help our schools to tackle bullying and encourage positive behaviour. Workshops like these can be really effective in giving young people the confidence to look out for one another and to raise awareness of where they can turn if they need support.”

The Songwriting Charity offers one-day workshops and performance programmes that provide children with opportunities to sing, write lyrics, perform and record their ideas individually and as a team – evaluating their progress and supporting them to help their friends.

Ben O’Sullivan, Director of Programmes at the Songwriting Charity, said: “This year’s programme will encourage acts of kindness through songwriting, giving kindness the reputation it deserves, as well as leaving the legacy of an original song for all the schools that take part.

“In a safe and supportive environment, we can inspire young people to work together to keep each other safe, to promote positive behaviours and build self-confidence.”

You can find out more about the songwriting charity and see and hear last year’s anti-bullying songs from Gloucestershire schools at www.songwritingcharity.org

The ‘Something Kind’ programme is being supported by The Summerfield Charitable Trust and GHLL. A detailed evaluation of the workshops is also being carried out as part of the programme and the school will be able to use this and evidence from the workshop as part of their application for the GHLL award *

Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning (GHLL) is funded by Gloucestershire County Council Public Health. It provides targeted support to schools to tackle areas they want to focus on improving. This could range from helping ensure more of their pupils eat breakfast to increasing opportunities to be active or improving support to pupils affected by bullying.

When schools apply to become a GHLL Healthy School, their form will be pre-filled with what their pupils have told us in the Online Pupil Survey. As well as saving them time filling in forms, this will mean that pupils’ views are listened to and acted upon.

Schools will need to identify two key areas for improvement – one of which needs to focus on a vulnerable group of pupils. Targeted intervention and support to tackle these priorities will then be provided free to schools by a group of leading teachers. Additional expertise could also be provided by Public Health and other county council staff.

Gloucestershire was the first county to take this targeted approach, which will ensure that the right support gets to the most vulnerable children, helping them to do better at school.

Published: 14 November 2013

Gotherington Primary School – Kindness is a thing that Makes People Happy

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Celebrating World Kindness Day, The Songwriting Charity is marking this global celebration of kindness with the official launch of the ‘Something Kind’ Primary School programme in Gloucestershire, in partnership with Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning, with generous support from the Summerfield Charitable Trust.

This autumn, to run alongside our hugely successful and impactive “Bully Beat” programme, we are launching the “Something Kind” programme.

Underpinned by a focus on emotional health & wellbeing, the programme seeks to raise confidence levels in those involved and engender strong relationships at secondary level whilst bolstering resilience through transition to secondary school for our primary school participants. We will be working with schools in the most rural communities in Glocuestershire with a range of disadvantage based on numbers of disabled, impoverished and geographically isolated children, ensuring those with least access to the arts are given new opportunities to participate.

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We think of Something Kind as the flip side of our Bully Beat coin. Once awareness is established through school based bullying prevention work, it’s important to help children explore other creative measures to establish and maintain a happy and enriching learning environment. This Something Kind workshops will provide unique opportunities to experience and offer kindness through the magical means of songwriting and self-expression.As always, the Something Kind workshops will leave the wonderful legacy of an original song for the school and the lasting effect of children reaching out to each other to offer kindness.The programme is generously supported by The Summerfield Charitable trust and Gloucestershire Healthy Living & Learning.

Something Kind encourages acts of kindness through songwriting – giving “Kindness” the reputation it deserves.