Young Writer’s Conference 2015

The Young Writer’s Conference is an annual event for grades 3-5 in which professionals in various fields of writing (TV, news, sports, film, fiction etc) present workshops to young aspiring writers. The goal of my workshop, "Songwriting with Noah," is to teach the fundamentals of songwriting in a fun, hands-on way by digging in and writing a song—in just one hour!

The Strategy

This year I had two groups of 5th graders and a group of 3rd graders. With each group, we began by talking about the fundamentals of songwriting [more on that here: Songwriting 101. ]. Then we jumped right into writing a song. We started with a word-association type brainstorm and filled the board with words. (see the left side of the photos below).  Words from that list inspired a song idea.  We then did another brainstorm specific to our song idea, and created another list of words. This list became the source of our lyrics. We then came up with some guitar chords and a song form, and the rest, as they say, was history!

The Results

Group #1 (5th graders) wrote a song about an immortal unicorn who, through the ages, taught the world to dance. They managed to finish the chorus and one verse. Group #2 (also 5th graders) penned a reggae tune about  the ultimate tropical vacation. Group #3 (3rd graders) wrote a whimsical story song about a unicorn who is cursed my a “Sour Candy Witch,” falls through a vortex into Candy Land and has to find its way back home. 

Group #3 (3rd Graders): “Shadow Unicorn”
Athough they were the youngest, this group was on fire! They wrote, rehearsed and recorded this song in just one hour. As a disclaimer, this recording represents a “first draft” of the song.
Shadow Unicorn Lyrics

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Group #2 (5th Graders): “Party in Paradise”
Taking their cue from “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, these 5th graders made some travel plans wrapped in an island groove.
Party in Paradise Lyrics

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Group #1 (5th Graders): “Little Bobby John (my life as a unicorn)”
With this group we spent a bit more time talking about songwriting concepts, and on building the framework of the song. Although we did not have enough time to complete the song, we hatched some original ideas and had a great time!

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"Little Bobby John
Dancing on a rainbow
He came down to Earth
To show us how to dance."