Teaching the Writing of Lyrics

Joko

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I'm an English teacher who's putting together some lessons for an informal music class, a jam club, really.

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Attached is the beginning of a lesson plan for an activity which is meant to teach the very basics of writing lyrics. I haven't finished it yet because I think it's too long already. I want to include a practice part where they get to write a song.

I'm looking for advice about advice. If you were asked about how to write lyrics, what are some of things you would include?

I was going to post the lesson plan here, but this 19 KB limit is ridiculous. I put it on google drive. Feel free to add whatever you'd like to the document directly.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ZXXD9KE2BQrnbahYL0ysS6Jo8x65_ox9
 

RandyBonnette

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Hello,

Thanks for sharing the lesson plan. The first part is great and I like the way you made the transitions between the types of activity and integrated those into a structured plan. Have you finished it yet? Can it be used for the elementary grade level? I'm a music teacher and I wanted to create additional online courses for my students with domyhomework tasks and creative writing part for song lyrics: based on Kid Pan Alley Music (Lesson One: Pre-writing for Lyrics pdf). I think you may also try the technique of clustering to develop the skills of connecting images and ideas.
 

RandyBonnette

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Also: from a linguistic point of view, it could be interesting to use an example of a song with an extraordinary text. Like those inspired by "nadsat" (a slang made up by Anthony Burgess in A Clockwork Orange): David Bowie's “Suffragette City”, for example.
 
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Tenzen

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Ah that ESL Expat life...

I think a good next step is to have them use that song or another of their choosing, and write their own song using only that tune. They should do at least one verse and the refrain or chorus, completely unrelated to the original song, but every 2 lines must rhyme together and fill the length of the space. That's actually a really good way to start writing songs.

Or you could give them a topic or subject and they have to write a verse or a stanza to any song tune they like

And you could also have them find a song that has a lot of meaning to them, and have them write another verse and a second chorus to make the song longer, but also fits into the rest of the song
 
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Darel Aranovskie

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Ah that ESL Expat life...

I think a good next step is to have them use that song or another of their choosing, and write their own song using only that tune. They should do at least one verse and the refrain or chorus, completely unrelated to the original song, but every 2 lines must rhyme together and fill the length of the space. That's actually a really good way to start writing songs.

Or you could give them a topic or subject and they have to write a verse or a stanza to any song tune they like

And you could also have them find a song that has a lot of meaning to them, and have them write another verse and a second chorus to make the song longer, but also fits into the rest of the song

It's not just a good way to get started writing songs, it's the best way to get started. From personal experience. For many years I have thought that a muse should visit me or that my third eye should open and I will begin to write great beautiful compositions. But everything is trite simpler. I understood how to build a text. And after that I started studying poetry, and then you know yourself. Understand the technique, structure. And when the hands are untied, then the music itself will become.
 
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Joko

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Your post Darel is lyrical itself.

I had not thought about this thread for over a year. The night I delivered the lyrics-writing workshop in March 2020 was the last gathering of students we had before it all got locked down...

...I'm waiting for the day I can teach that way again...

There's a song in there somewhere.

Here's 9 minutes of the 90, featuring an all-UU band collaborating from different corners of the world.

 

Darel Aranovskie

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Wow, looks like you are an amazing teacher. I watched the video with great pleasure. I've seen a similar pitch at open lectures in the Ivy League. Bravo
 

JnApple

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What works for me in writing lyrics is using different forms of poetry to figure out rhyme schemes. The formula I use is verse-one rhyme scheme, chorus-one rhyme scheme, and optional bridge-one rhyme scheme, each one different. Both Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash have used Villanelles, Tom Petty used Free Verse, and Elvis Costello alters his rhyme-scheme to incorporate unique words and not so common phrases. Turning cliches on their heads or inside out yields good results as well. Good luck with the class.
 

Giovanna Lee

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Oh, I'll really solve this problem. I love music and play the ukulele well, but I can't write lyrics. The problem started in college, where I could not write an essay. Fortunately, then there was a Essay Geek that helped me pass the work. By the way, based on the essays made for me, I began to understand at least the structures and styles of writing texts.
 
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Dinazifend

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It seems to me that all singers and musicians should take at least some kind of songwriting course. Understandably, you can be a talented person who writes perfect lyrics for songs, but you should always learn and develop.
 

taknitaka

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There's nothing wrong with learning something new and putting it into practice. Creativity is as complex and time-consuming a process as possible. Everyone's approach to the process is different, and therein lies its value. For me, music is something more than just the sound of a tune. Music accompanies me everywhere. So I have to make sure that I always have access to it. I use FREE MP3 Downloader to listen to talented people and be inspired by their masterpieces.
 

hattjons

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For a long time, I was wondering what personal experience I could share. And then I remembered that I'd been writing songs for years. You will say, what it is difficult, I wrote some verses every now and then, came up with the melody for them and that's it. But no way, my dears. Even though poetry is considered more relaxed than what's used as lyrics, it's easier to write. I listened to some music from https://whatisthatsong.net/track/glass animals heat waves, and when I was walking back home, I hummed quite a few interesting tunes. I listened to the beats and so on, and after that, I got quite a few ideas.
 
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