Composition is a great way for students to express themselves and work more deeply with the content in their curriculum. Here, I have put together some great examples of songwriting with students using excerpts from previous posts. I hope these examples inspire you to consider a form of songwriting in your classroom!
Composition that Expresses Identity and Connects Music to Poetry
The following was originally posted in the Teacher Art Retreat 2012 page.
Debbie Ambrose who is currently teaching in Exeter, New Hampshire shares her musical talents with the students in her school with composition.
One song, done while Debbie was teaching fourth grade was a culmination of a poetry unit she did with the other fourth grade class taught by Allie Bzdafka and some help from another talented colleague, Nate LaMontagne who played the guitar. Together, they wrote a poem about being in fourth grade and then turned it into a song. Lyrics
Composition as a Gift
Thank You Our Soldiers is another example of the work Debbie did with her fourth graders. It was written to send with supplies to soldiers overseas. They also sang it at their Memorial Day celebration a few years back. Around that time, Debbie’s school had a soldier stationed in Iraq visit them. The students sang the song to her and gave her a copy of the recording to bring back to Iraq. Lyrics to Thank You Our Soldiers
More recently, Debbie composed a song with some second graders titled Give and Be Grateful. It incorporated many CCCS literacy standards as well as touched upon public speaking and presentation skills. It was a lot of fun for the students and adults involved! Here are the lyrics to Give and Be Grateful.
Songwriting that Connects to Content
The following excerpts come from a post Erosion Blues.
One year, my students and I had a great experience as we created a makeshift recording studio in our school and recorded an original piece of music: The Erosion Blues.
It was the culminating project for our unit on Land and Water which focuses on erosion. Students were to explain a type of erosion (water, wind or ice) and use some content vocabulary to show they know the meaning of the words. While the music teacher taught the students the form of the 12 bar blues in music class, I was working with small groups of students to write lyrics that would fit a simple AAB form and include content knowledge. The result was, well, a lot of fun!
At another time, Debbie emailed me a song she composed with her fourth grade students to promote literacy in their school on March 2nd which marks Dr. Suess’s (Theodor Geizel’s) 107th birthday, when schools across the nation celebrate “Read Across America” day.
Here are the lyrics you can share with your students and use to sing along!
The songwriting works really well with the students. They love it and it’s a fun way for me to share my love with them, while teaching students about various things related to our curriculum.” ~Debbie Ambrose
Songwriting is a Great Experience for Teachers Too!
No matter where and in what capacity Debbie teaches, music and songwriting play a large role. She was even a focus presenter for our 2012 Teacher Art Retreat. There, a group of 15 teachers composed their own song promoting Arts Integration, Let’s Create and Celebrate! Listen. I hope it inspires you!