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”.
- 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
- 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.
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 are some more thoughts on Songwriting!