I'm having fun teaching songwriting to my six year 6 and 7 classes.
This week we listened to Adele's Set Fire To The Rain, analysed the structure (verses, choruses etc) and talked about what makes it a great song.
Out of that came a discussion about what our songs could be about. Previously, many kids had been saying they'd write songs about random nouns - a flower, a koala, a rainbow... Here's my rule: The only people who want to hear a song about a koala (or flower, or whale, or teapot) are those under five. For the rest of us, songs need to be about people and, more particularly, about emotions. A song might seem to be about a sunrise, but it's actually about the euphoric rush I get from beauty. It may talk about an empty street, but it's actually about loneliness. The song a ten year old boy thinks is about Minecraft is actually about obsession or fear or anger (when another player griefs) or elation.
We also talked about back-stories: the situation that inspires the song. You don't have to spell it out to the listener, just use it yourself to get into the particular emotion. Adele seems to only have one back-story: I was with this guy and then we broke up and it sucks. But she takes it slightly different places in each song:
Rolling in the Deep - I was with this guy and we broke up and it sucks and I feel frustrated and disappointed because it could have been so good.
Someone like you - I was with this guy and we broke up and it sucks and I'm sad because you've moved on when I haven't.
Set Fire to the Rain - I was with this guy and we broke up and it sucks and I'm sad and angry about it.
Good times. With one class it kind of went into a group therapy session with kids telling me their own backstories of loneliness or rejection. Will be interesting to see what they come up with. Hoping for a few snippets or originality mixed in with the lyrical cliches!