Six Ways to Turn a Child Into a Good Songwriter

Written by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website:

Occasionally when I adjudicate at music festivals, I am given the pleasant “task” of assessing musical works composed by young children. Happily, these types of events are non-competetive, and so it gives me an opportunity to help young musicians with their writing by showing them the great things about their music, and how to make it even better.

child_musicianYoung children love to create! Whether drawing, painting, dancing, singing, acting… they love to explore the outermost reaches of their imagination.

Even if you feel that you don’t have a strong musical background, you can help a young child in your life discover their musical abilities.

Here are some tips for helping young children now to become successful singer-songwriters:

  1. Get them singing. Read the bios of famous singer-songwriters: Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and so many others… and you’ll find that most of them were singing at a very young age, usually in their church choirs. Singing church melodies gives a young person a good grounding in melodic structure, and singing with others helps them to tune properly. If not church, most schools and communities have choirs they can sing in.
  2. Give them some basic music theory. A basic understanding of how music works, with the modest ability to read and write it, will help them become literate musicians. Many musicians make it without theory, but giving your child that ability helps them to understand more of the musical world around them.
  3. Get them a quality musical instrument. They may be a child, but they deserve something good to play on. Buying them a beat up guitar with no ability to produce a good sound would discourage anyone. And don’t wait for long… there are good instruments out there that they can be playing even before the age of 5.
  4. Encourage them to make up songs, and resist the temptation to “fix” their music. They need to explore their creative mind without being told that there is a right way and a wrong way. With time and experience, their music will become more and more structured.
  5. Listen to their music. Encourage them to stage little concerts for you and your family. And as always, accentuate the positive!
  6. Play good quality music for them, and don’t just stick to one genre. Find music that you like, and play recordings for them. Even if jazz is your thing, you need to know that there is great country music out there. There are lots of people to help you compile playlists of great music from the Classical, Country, Jazz, Folk and Rock world if you need the help.

As a child becomes more and more active in the world of music, you’ll see that their music keeps getting better. And the more they listen to great music, the better their own musical endeavours become. Children are great imitators, and so you need to provide them excellent music to model.

Do you have other ideas for getting children into the world of songwriting? I’d love to have your comments.

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Gary Ewer’s songwriting e-books can get you writing the songs you’ve always known you could write. Read more about those songwriting e-books here.

Posted in Opinion, songwriting and tagged , , , , .

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: How to Encourage Your Child’s Songwriting | Rockandrolldaycare

  2. Would love your thoughts on whether my daughter has some real potential or if we should just support her songwriting/singing as a hobby that makes her happy.

    • Hi Lori:

      It’s a good song, and I enjoyed listening – thanks very much for sharing. I should preface my remarks by saying that everything I write in reply is simply my opinion. That said, for any child, no matter what their age, aspirations, or even quality of songwriting, my belief is that it should always be a hobby that makes the child happy, and it should always be supported as such. In other words, whether her music has “real potential” or not is irrelevant; the kind of parental support should be exactly the same.

      We live in a day and age when it is easy for a person (or a parent) to begin the promotion of music without an agent or manager, in probably the way you are doing right now. That online method can lead to a discovery by someone in the industry. In that regard, if your daughter is writing new songs regularly and is enjoying what she is doing, you can promote her music through a website and social media (SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) In any case, anyone trying to break into the business should be building a fan base through live concert performances. Those who are discovered online and rocket to success (like, say, Justin Beiber or Adele) are very rare. Anyone in the industry who might have an interest in your daughter’s music will want to know that a potential client has a healthy local fan base.

      Online promotion for young singer-songwriters has its dangers, of course, because the listening public can be brutal and cruel if they hear something they don’t like. Rebecca Black (“Friday”) is a perfect example of that. So online promotion needs to be done carefully, and always with the child’s best interests in mind. (This, I am sure, you know already!)

      So being mindful of the pros and cons, I would recommend that you support your child’s efforts as a hobby. As her abilities grow and develop, and assuming that she is writing regularly and building a fan base for her music via online and live performances, professional potential will happen quite naturally, and she will be noticed. Be very careful of seeking out people in the industry, especially if your daughter is still young. My advice is to let it happen naturally.

      Congratulations to your daughter for writing a great little song. She has a very good voice that is going to develop well. Keep her listening to lots of music, from all different genres, and encourage her writing in the way you’re doing now, and I think she has great potential. There’s definitely no need to rush anything.

      Thanks for writing,
      -Gary Ewer

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