Yeah, many parts of this period of our lives has sucked big time. BUT I wonder if one day we will look back on this time as a sweet one for our families too. A moment in which there wasn’t a feeling that time was limited and someone was always rushing out, to work, to drinks, to see friends. Rather there was a feeling of togetherness—you could even call it stickiness.
I don’t know about you but I’ve been feeling clingier to my kids and husband. I mean, it’s ridiculous, because we’re with each other ALL the time, but I still didn’t want my husband to take a necessary 3 hour drive to get our stuff. As much as I need space, I want them to stay near me.
The beauty of this pandemic epoch is that there’s a little bubble that’s been built around our families that disconnects us from the world, and binds us closer to each other.
Of course, this might not be the case for everyone. I’m sure parents who are also essential workers are having a completely different experience.
But regardless of the situation, we could all use this moment for art.
Instead of having just stories and photos from this time, we can make a simple song that you’ll sing to your kids and they’ll sing to their kids to bring back the feeling of togetherness that we had during this time.
And I’m here to help you make it.
Here’s how to make your family’s quarantine song:
Tip: Since documenting the songwriting process is so easy these days on our phones, I suggest you take advantage and have the camera ready for each one of these.
The improv approach:
This approach is good for kids who want to fly by the musical seat of their pants. It entails letting your kid riff and you following along. This can be done with any age.
With babies and little kids start, with a melody. Nothing complicated. See if they take the lead and you can follow. Repeat any words that emerge and add on.
With the bigger kids who are able to come up with full sentences, go with their themes. It doesn’t totally need to make sense. Just go with it! It can be gibberish with only some real words.
Here’s some inspiration: You know how Elton John and Bernie Taupin write songs? Elton John comes up with a melody and chord progression while mumbling vocalizations into a recorder. Bernie then takes the recording and turns it into comprehensible words and ideas. He plays off the jibberish sounds Elton John makes and also finds his own.
You can do that with your kid! Themes you didn’t know were there might emerge later on second listening.
Tip: Get physically relaxed. Feeling lazy and comfy is key to letting creative juices flow without judgment. My daughter and I often do this lying down in bed holding the phone over us.
Here is an example I did today with my daughter. She is probably older than most of your kids, so yours may have shorter sentences or even one word verses. That’s ok!
The Pen to paper approach:
This one is all about lyrics first. If your kid is old enough, brainstorm with them. If not, do it with your partner or even on your own. Come up with some lines to describe how you’re feeling these days.
For instance, the other day in class one of the moms (shout out to Kristen!) said this period felt like she was “cramming for finals and pulling overnighters, with no finals in sight. How long can it last?” I loved that line, jotted it down and it made it into this song (with her permission of course.)
Here is a tip: Think about how you have been describing your feelings and days to your family and friends. Most likely you’ve been using some of the same phrases. Go with those!
The movement approach:
Writing a song with movement means that you are bringing rhythm in with your body. You can do this while you walk outside, jumping over pillows, or running around the house. It is similar to the improv approach but you are just saying one or two words per movement. This strategy is good for the kids who need to be on the move while they think and create.
The storytelling approach:
Use a character to tell a story. The character can be your kid’s favorite stuffy, a character from a show or book they like, or made up on the spot. For instance, if your kid has a favorite panda stuffy, ask them: What does panda do in the morning? How does her quarantine day look? Tell your family’s story through panda. You can use a melody from a song that exists, for instance the ABC song, or you can make up your own.
The facilitator approach:
This one’s my favorite because I get to be involved! I propose we put aside a half hour in which I sit virtually with you and your family and help you write your quarantine song. I’ll help you brainstorm and then shape your lyrics and melody into a song. Then I’ll send you a video of how it all turned out.
Saturday night family activity: CHECK.
Do any of you remember when I did a kickstarter for my second album Hello My Baby? One of the prizes was writing a song with me and many of you signed up to do it. It ended up being one of the most delightful experiences of the whole album making process. We wrote some great songs! I’m fantasizing about that experience with you all.
Last week my talented friend Amelia Robinson from Mil’s Trills invited my daughter and I to her songwriting show to write a song with her for a nurse. The experience reminded me how wonderful it is to have a facilitator during the songwriting process. (Here’s what we came up with. No, my daughter did not let us get a word in edge wise. Yes, it seems she is the daughter of a diva songwriter.)
I’d love to offer that to you! If you’re interested email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a time and find out the details.
Ok dear quarantunies, I hope you are inspired to start your quarantune songbook with your kid. What an album it will be! Sure, photo albums are great. But this is an album you and your family can take with you everywhere.
Have you written any quarantine songs with your kids? We want to hear them! Please post below! Do you have songwriting techniques? Comment below!
Do your friends need some inspiration? Are they in a puzzle making rut? Send them this post to ignite their inner Elton John.
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