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Rhinegold Education Key Stage 3: Lesson 14

This week, from Rhinegold Education, a Key Stage 3 (ages 11-14) lesson 14 which will help you to improve your song writing skills.

Learning Objective: to improvise and compose. To extend and develop musical ideas.

Length: 45 mins 

1. This lesson is about songwriting.

A good way to start is with lyrics. Read these lyrics from a poem called “For all those people.”:

Can anybody hear me?
Does anybody care?
Does anybody even know
I’m dealing with despair?

2. Find a way to read these lyrics rhythmically.

Listen to these instructions.

3. The next step is to create a backing for the song.

An easy way to do this is to use a drone, either in free time:

or with a slow pulse:

Play the drone and when you are ready, speak the words while listening to the drone.

4. For a more interesting backing, you can use chords, especially if you play a chordal instrument such as piano, guitar or ukulele.

(If not, you can create a backing with chords using software – see below* for details.) Use two chords. The words of the poem are very sad so minor chords might be best, for example A minor and D minor.

If you need a bit more help and guidance on how to do this, listen to the instructions below.

5. Create a melody for these lyrics.

Instead of speaking the words, sing them over the backing track. Each line can:

a) Stay mostly on the same pitch
b) Go mostly up
c) Go mostly down
d) Mix these ideas

If you need a bit more help and guidance on how to do this, listen to the instructions below.

6. Now read the whole poem:

https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poe m/can-anybody-hear-me

Which parts of this poem would you like to use for your song? Which parts will have the same music and which will have different music? Here is one possibility; the verse is different from the chorus:

VERSE: I want someone to hold me,
But I’m the only one here.
I want someone to listen to me,
But I’m the only ear.
CHORUS: Can anybody hear me?
Does anybody care?
Does anybody even know
I’m dealing with despair?
VERSE: There are voices in my mind
Saying I should die.
Will anybody even tell me
They’re only just a lie?
CHORUS: Can anybody hear me?
Does anybody care?
Does anybody even know
I’m dealing with despair?

If you like, you can use this suggestion to make your song. (If you prefer, choose different parts of the poem)! Think about how you can make the chorus different from the verse:

  • Use different chords.
  • Use a different backing.
  • Start the melody on a different note.
  • Use a different direction for the melody (e.g. mostly down if the verse is mostly up).

7. When you have finished putting music to the words, try developing your song further.

One way to do this is by adding sections of music where there are no lyrics. For example:

a) an Intro to start the song.
b) an Outro at the end of the song.
c) an instrumental section, possibly after the second verse.
 

8. Finally, use steps 1-7 to create your own song from scratch.

You can write your own lyrics or, if you prefer, you can use some of the lyrics at this website of poetry, written by teens for teens: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poems/teen
*One way to create a backing is to use loop-based software on your computer or phone. You compose by piecing together ready-made bits of music (called loops). Software includes Magix Music Maker Free for Windows, Garageband for Mac and Music Maker Jam for Android.
 

9. Want to teach songwriting brilliantly? Want to write amazing songs?

Rhinegold Education’s Teaching Music: Practical Strategies for KS3 has some great ideas on how to improve both teaching and learning in songwriting. You can access FREE content on improving songwriting in this book and many more on Musicroom’s Music Education Classroom Teaching pack. Use the code SAMPLEPACK for a 10 percent discount on all titles included in the resource!

By Tim Cain for Rhinegold Education.

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