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Just Emailed These Thoughts

For months now I have been meaning to sit down and write down some thoughts for kids songwriting for our team at Hillsong Kids. Well yesterday I took a moment and furiously typed as fast as my 50 words a minute fingers could type. Here is the output without editing for your edification it’s for our team so somethings may not make much sense!

GET YOUR SONG HEARD!

Okay, this is a stream of consciousness thoughts on writing songs for kids.

  • Make sure you listen to the latest songs to catch the vibe of where we are at (planning centre).
  • Avoid cliches, phrases that are well worn in other songs, one or two in a song is okay, but 3-4-5 and the song becomes meaningless to the singer (eg. You took my shame–I praise your name; filled my soul–made me whole etc.)
  • You should be able to sum up your song in a sentence.
  • We are looking for a lyrical hook so find interesting ways of saying common truths for kids. eg. ‘At the start of this life I found You, you found me’, (not just I have known you my whole life) ‘I give you my Hallelujah’ (not just I give you my Praise).
  • Send through 3 songs minimum. It is far easier to evaluate 3 songs and find some gold than just look at one and not find anything. We want to encourage writers not demoralise them If you haven’t got three songs then keep going until you do, then put them all together
  • Include typed lyrics with the track. The Lord will turn his face from you if you submit a song without written lyrics.
  • Guitar and voice, or keys and voice are fine, do not spend too much time making a sweet demo track. The gold WILL shine through even the roughest of recordings.
  • No need to even create an arrangement of the track – as they say “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus”.

SONGWRITING THEMES:

  • Currently we are looking for songs about – Wisdom (Psalms, Proverbs, Parables)
  • Fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience
  • Songs about Praising God are ALWAYS accepted
  • Worship songs about trusting
  • Unusual Miracles
  • New Rivers, New Roads (Is 43)
  • The Holy Spirit

AVOID:

  • Talking about creation, we have enough songs about God created the earth and hung the stars. (eg. Superhero)
  • Silly songs (eg. I think I’m gonna throw up, I think I’m gonna throw up, I think I’m gonna throw up my hands and praise the Lord)
  • Introspection and Melancholy – These are not universal themes for children (save them for United).
  • Getting children to make promises or vows they cannot keep (eg. “I’ll go anywhere, I’ll do anything, at any cost for you my King.”)
  • Singing lyrics from God’s perspective can be tricky.
  • When you have finished a song, just check through for the words me and my. If they appear again and again look at the focus of the song. We love songs full of Him,
  • His, even Our rather than Mine is an improvement.

IMPORTANT:

I noticed recently with a bunch of new worship songs written for kids were focussing on the singers behaviour, their virtues or their actions. (eg. I’m gonna DO this or that FOR you God). It subtly tells our Children that the Christian life is about what we do for God. It tells them that the things that we could accomplish for him are the most important. When this is repeated over and over it can be exhausting for a kid, who in almost every area of their lives are ranked. We want Church to be an oasis in a life that is spent getting graded and lined up according to ability and worth.

We want Church to be a place of acceptance and rest, a place to be built up and encouraged.

P.S. Here is some more thoughts on Songwriting!

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Unlikely Heroes – Plus Two More!

Right, so we take a long time to release resources at Hillsong Kids… it usually takes almost a year to finish a 9 week curriculum project. So I am surprised as anyone to see us release THREE at the same time. It’s new release Wednesday!

It’s unheard of, and you should check them all out, especially if you speak Spanish or know someone who does! Because we made a Spanish version of our Crazy Noise Album… that’s right a Spanish album, our first ever!

HERE WE GO—

Let’s count this down, firstly a new BiG Curriculum UNLIKELY HEROES

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Then we have another Curriculum called Listen Up! (It’s a conference edition digital only product)

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And maybe most exciting, because it’s a first, Ruido Alegre!

Por primera vez, Hillsong Kids presenta un álbum en español especialmente para niños de edad preescolar y de edad escolar temprana. ¡Ruido Alegre! es un álbum lleno de canciones nuevas geniales para que los más pequeños puedan cantar y adorar a Dios.
El pastor de niños de la Iglesia Hillsong David Wakerley, dice: “Hace mucho tiempo hemos querido crear un álbum para niños de esta edad y estamos muy emocionados con esta producción. ¡Ruido Alegre! está lleno de canciones con las que los más pequeños disfrutarán cantando, bailando y alabando a Dios”.

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Much more to share, but wanted to announce before doing anything else!

Comment below, especially if you speak Spanish, would love to hear from you…

 

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Musical Mention: The Great Adventure – Dan Warlow

*Musical Mention posts are more of a highlight feature rather than a source of no holds barred critical review. If you would like to suggest an album for a Music Moment feature then please comment below.

It’s way overdue, but I need to highlight my friend Dan Warlow’s first album recording.

Dan Warlow is an Australian singer-songwriter who is passionate about building strong faith-foundations in young people. With his energetic and engaging style, Dan conveys scriptural truths and the life-giving message of Jesus through songs that the whole family can enjoy, not just the kids.

I keep bumping into Dan around the tracks here in Australia and love that he is just going for it, and following his dreams!

THE GREAT ADVENTURE

1. The Celebration song
2. Great adventure.
3. Creator God
4. With all my heart.
5. God’s Amazing Book
6. I want to hear your voice
7. Under your wings.
8. You are faithful
9. God’s big love (light of the world)
10. There is nothing our God cannot do

THOUGHTS

This is a acoustic driven album in the vein of Colin Buchanan and Sean W Smith. It’s a little but country and a little bit rock ‘n roll. There is nothing too fancy going on with the production, but it’s also just what is needed – it’s just right. Lead vocals are perfectly clear… important for kids comprehension.

Lyrically it covers well worn material – a ‘God created everything song’, some ‘jump around songs’, and a Bible song. But it all sounds fresh and not at all tired.

Full marks for a kids choir on a few tracks like the title track ‘Great Adventure’ if you follow my blog posts you’ll know I love a bit of kids singing on the album.

We need lyrics on your website Dan 🙂 and if possible some lyric videos for use in Churches!

FAVOURITE TRACK

Okay, God’s Big Love is my standout on this album. It’s a tried and true version of John 3:16 but for me the track shines on the album. Great guitars/synths that match the style really well. A great bridge with some woah’s just tops the track off!

Keep it up Dan, the best is yet to come!

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Musical Mention: Strong In Me – TFH Worship

*Musical Mention posts are more of a highlight feature rather than a source of no holds barred critical review. If you would like to suggest an album for a Music Moment feature then please comment below.

Another kids worship release out of nowhere.

Heather commented in my last post and alerted me to this fantastic new EP.

TFH Worship is the worship ministry of The Father’s House church, based out of Vacaville, CA but with additional locations in Napa and East Bay. TFH Kids is proud to partner with TFH Worship to release “Strong In Me,” a kids worship album for the whole family. These songs are fun, and powerful and we’ve produced them so that you’ll want more regardless of age!

The Church is also a part of the Hillsong Network, so I am a big fan already!

STRONG IN ME

Tracklisting:

1. Don’t Have To Wait
2. The Way
3. Stronger
4. God Is With Me
5. You’re Everything

5 Tracks. I’ll take it, I want more, but you gotta start somewhere 🙂

THOUGHTS

This album continues the trend of albums produced for kids ministries by the worship ministry of the Church. (Planetshakers recent release, eKids etc.) They bring their expertise and strength to the table and pull off great with the kids in mind. It’s great to see a couple of slower songs, Stronger and God is with Me in the mix. It’s a bigger challenge to write worship songs for kids that keep them engaged.

Production values are fantastic, great mixes and excellent arrangements. The music does exactly what it needs to do and doesn’t get in the way of the message!

Get some kids voices on there and I am a happy man. Again, it’s tough to find really strong kid vocalists but worth the effort. And as with all releases, it’s great to see lyric videos we can use in live worship… looking forward to the next one!

FAVOURITE SONGS

Okay, so I’m gonna pick just one because of the brevity of the album 🙂

The Way – Great EDM sounding track and lyrics, especially the acapella intro,  it’s uncommon and catchy. I really like how each section of the song flows into the next – verse to chorus to bridge – it keeps the song moving. “I know who I am, I know how to dance, And praise Your name” – simple lyrics declaring truth, as long as your definition of dancing includes my kind of awkward gyrating.

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Kidsong 2015 – The 3 T’s – YouTube

People of Earth! Just wanted you to know that the two men in this video are talking about things you have no idea about unless you were at Kidsong 2015! But let’s just say that if you would like to get a taste of the conference then check out the Three T’s.

You should also then check out the latest videos on the Hillsong Kids Channel at YouTube because there are some seriously great memory verse songs as well!

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Musical Mention: Undefeated – eKidz

*Musical Mention posts are more of a highlight feature rather than a source of no holds barred critical review. If you would like to suggest an album for a Music Moment feature then please comment below.

Oh Wow, out of nowhere.

Another great Kids Praise and Worship Release.

From my friends at Elevation Church.

eKidz (the family ministry of Elevation Church) has joined with Elevation Worship to release a new album for your entire family. From the title track, “Undefeated”, which proclaims that Jesus is victorious, to the powerful truth found in “I am Yours”, it is our hope that these songs will give voice to your family’s faith.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we need more worship for kids in the world. 2,000 worship albums last year produced and maybe 50 for kids? Let’s do this!

UNDEFEATED

Tracklisting:

1. For Your Glory
2. I Am Yours
3. Undefeated
4. Your Love Is
5. Get to Give
6. Already Won
7. Standing

Okay, 7 tracks… Frank Bealer, I expected more overachieving from you, if your wife was involved it would have been 14 pullups, I mean tracks (you had to be there).

THOUGHTS

This is a pro album, mixed with a top notch production team from Elevation. Seven uptempo praise songs means they have accomplished what they set out to do – “give voice to your family’s faith”.

One of the hardest things is to get right is kids ‘choir’, it doesn’t seem like the team has attempted to capture any, but I would have loved to hear some kids voices on this album.

FAVOURITE SONGS

Every track sounds ‘right’, what I mean is that it matches the theme and emotion the song is seeking to convey. A victorious song like ‘For Your Glory’, or a more declarative song like ‘I am Yours’ has just the right ‘weight’ in musical style.

Standing – “Oh Yes we are standing, ‘Cause the enemy’s defeated, We’ll always be standing, on the promises of Jesus.” Great chorus and a song that simply declares truth and the groove of the song drives home the point!

Get To Give – This track’s production is one of my favourites and the theme – I get the privilege of serving God – is a valuable one in this era of looking out for number one.

Oh, and great music video!

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I feel like getting elevated!

It was a couple of years ago that I was invited to speak at Elevate Conference in beautiful Vancouver, Canada.

It’s one of those events that I feel like we are all on the same page. I think Canada and Australia are very similar in the needs and challenges that the Church faces so it was such a privilege to speak there!

I am back again, this time with my wife Beci and it’s gonna be great!

So even if you are in the US, or somewhere close, get yourself there and we can hang out.

MEETUP: If you are reading this and coming to the event, comment below with your name and I will buy you a coffee at a meetup sometime during the conference! Do it!

Elevate Conference 2015 | Wakerley Greeting from next gen on Vimeo.

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Musical Mention: Turn It Up – Kidspring

*Musical Mention posts are more of a highlight feature rather than a source of no holds barred critical review. If you would like to suggest an album for a Music Moment feature then please comment below.

It was a normal day just scrollin’ through the twitter feed when I am confronted with this:

So I jumped right on it to iTunes and check it out.

Turn It Up

“Turn It Up” is the newest album from KidSpring, the children’s ministry at NewSpring Church. It’s a two-disc set, featuring songs like Wise Up, My Faith is in You, and When I Look. Whether your kids are preschool or elementary age, they will love learning about Jesus as they sing along! “Turn It Up” will be available on iTunes and at any NewSpring campus on March 1!

First of all, 21 tracks… calm down… that’s just showing off.

Tracklisting

1. When I Look
2. Pirate Party
3. Do Not Give Up
4. Wiggle Worm
5. We Are Royalty
6. We’re Not Scared
7. You Are The Treasure
8. 1. Timothy 4:12
9. Jesus Love Me (The Bible Tells Me So Remix)
10. Love Will Never End
11. Detective Shuffle
12. Praise The Lord
13. Wise Up
14. Another Level
15. Set An Example
16. Away We Go
17. My Faith Is In You
18. Royalty
19. Clean Up Rap
20. Eyes On You
21. Love Will Never Fail

THOUGHTS

Having a listen through I recognised a few tunes like ‘We’re Not Scared’ which we used at Hillsong Kids as a memory verse song a few months ago. It looks like this is a perfect example of what I think more Churches should do, put together a bunch of songs that the kids have been singing at Church, there is a fantastic mix of early childhood songs, primary/elementary songs, praise and worship, and even program songs like a clean up rap.

NOTE: At Hillsong Kids we have the tidy up song which you can get right here, and use every week at Church, and I love this Clean up song they use at Kidspring!

FAVOURITE SONGS

It’s a real mix that everyone should check out and grab to use with their Church ministry, or even at home… you know you need a clean up song right?

Clean Up Rap – Get it for Church, get it for home.

Eyes On You – This is a bit of music producer talk, but I love a half time chorus and this song will rock for your preteen kids at Church.

My Faith Is In You – Rock and roll praise done well declaring great things about God!

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Another reason to visit Worshiphousekids

I have been working behind the scenes for a while to partner with WorshipHouseKids and get some Hillsong Kids Content up there. Over the last couple of years this resource has become a real goto site to grab videos, songs, and inspiration from quickly. They really understand the digital realm and give you video files that just work!

Our first bundle has been uploaded and you may find it very helpful:

  • Birthday Song – It’s the Happy Happy Birthday song for preschoolers and toddlers. Birthdays are significant for your children. Celebrate with them by singing along with this video and making them feel special!
  • Countdown – A 3 minute high energy, dynamic countdown that will get your kids ready to start Church! Your kids will love learning the dance moves on screen.
  • Game Loop – The answer to creating atmosphere while your kids are playing games or having free time. At over 7 minutes it’s long enough to energise your latest and greatest new game.
  • Ministry Song – The answer to creating atmosphere in your service for praying and ministering to children. Run this beautiful guitar led worship song in the background while you pray or even sit quietly in response to our awesome God.
  • Tidy Up Song – Are you frustrated at having a messy room while you try to teach the kids at your Church about Jesus? Play this song when it’s time to transition your kids and see the difference music can make.

Check them out!

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