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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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I’m a poet and don’t know it

A poem.

God gives us marriage to experience love, celebration to experience joy, forests so we can experience peace, a boss so we can experience longsuffering, grandparents to experience kindness, coffee to experience goodness, dogs to experience faithfulness, kittens to experience gentleness, donuts so we can experience self-control and he gives us children so that we experience every single one. – David Wakerley

Now all I need is someone to take a photo of this post with Instagram, make it all grainy, I’ll join a book club and before you know it – best selling poet.

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Written by a Kid – Creative Video Series

You should be watching this creative video YouTube series right now.

And you should also be watching the metamorphosis that YouTube is taking. There are individuals in every corner of the video sharing monolith making their full time incomes from making short creative videos online… what would have taken a production crew and a massive budget, now can take a couple of friends, camera and a laptop.

People like Rhett and Link, who have appeared in Phil Vischers series What’s in the Bible.

And the following episode of Written by a Kid from GeekandSundry.

I love this creative idea – imagine kids stories in animation or live action and create brilliant creative video content.

It doesn’t take too much brainstorming to see how you could do this in your ministry, as always my advice when you are filming is to make sure you get great audio and sound. Don’t even bother making a video if you can’t capture great audio – it’s 50% of any video. In fact if you own a iPhone 4 or 4S you have all the video capabilities you need and I would recommend buying an audio recorder like the Zoom H4N

HINT!

Create an account on YouTube and take the time to subscribe to some of these great series. You will then be able to get an email every time a new episode is put up online!

I’m sure you could do this in your next creative video for your kids ministry!

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New Year/Little Content

My mind is very focussed right now. In fact it can only really fit a couple of things in it and I have reached capacity.

There are two main projects which are at their almost final end.

1. Our fourth Hillsong Kids Big curriculum – I am excited about this and we have a final video shoot next week, but I really want it to be done. (It also differs slightly from our first three so stay tuned for details!)

2. The DVD of Crazy Noise. Our first ever preschool album CD was released in Aus. last November and will be launching worldwide early this year with a DVD as well… so it’s kinda all happening right now, and because its a studio alum not a live one there is a lot more content that needs filming and a bunch of creative ideas that need to be idea-ed-afied.

So this blog takes a back seat, but I look forward to writing some posts about the creative, songwriting and filming processes that will hopefully be helpful!

Talk soon!

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Gold Tights, Backing Tracks & Pepsi Max

It’s time for a random yet related fact.

So think about how many individual images go to make up a Pixar movie… the average frame (a movie has 24 frames per second) takes about seven hours to render, although some can take nearly 39 hours of computing time. (Source: Wired Mag)

P.S. Rendering definition here.

Finish of random but related fact.

We are creating our latest Hillsong Kids Big curriculum of which the media we produce is a very important part…

Why… In our culture because of the proliferation of media it is used to segregate and divide (you are defined by the music you like and the TV you watch – Hip Hop, Emo, Country, Pop, Beiber have their ‘tribes’). Having all your kids watch the same media at church is a small step in the effort to unite and build community.

So that’s why I’m wearing gold tights, drinking Pepsi Max and spending untold hours filming a ‘Christmas Story’.

It’s worth it.

For approx 35 minutes of video:

  • Pre production: (Writing scripts/Recording songs): about 100 Hours
  • Filming: 31 Hours
Total of 131 Hours so far without the editing even started breaks down to 3.75 hours per minute of footage of personal work for myself…
Ha.
It’s worth it.
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K Mag

Cover of K Mag.

Cover of K Mag.

Earlier this year I was invited to be a part of a fantastic new venture… K!

K! Magazine is sweeping children’s ministries around the globe. Each issue is jam-packed with practical articles, great ideas, claritin 10 mg and the best tips for ministering to 21st century kids and their families.

There are very few magazines of this calibre about ministry to kids in the world!!

So here is what you should do…

Go to www.thekmagazine.com and then click on the “Bulk Subscription” link to learn more about bulk subscriptions and rates… buy some for your whole team!!

In this months edition you can read what I wrote about Private Devotion and Public Passion – Training kids to worship God Monday through Saturday.

And in the next – The Air They Breathe.

I write with my wife Beci about the journey of Hillsong Kids Praise and Worship!

Check it out now.

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Writing songs

Now in my previous post Theophilus…

I did use the metaphor about giving birth, which I understand is a foolish thing for a male to do under any circumstance. But just read this quote from Ryan Adam’s;

What I do and what all musicians do is easy. All we have to do is sit down for a couple hours a week and write a song or two. That simple task is all the world asks of me, so I do it. The other musicians who don’t are just lazy, because again, we aren’t being asked to tar rooftops or clean out dumpsters. We just have cipla generic cialis to write a couple songs!

So true!

Read the rest of the post here

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Blogging Course

I’m evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they’re letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

Mark Joyner makes some great courses and as a a marketing test (I guess), he’s decided to give this new course away for a limited time. Mark is the creator of Simpleology 101 which I highly recommend for helping you to become successful and it also happens to be free.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I’ll let you know what I think once I’ve had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it’s still free.

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Phillip Pullman

So Phillip Pullman is getting a bad rap at the moment, a lot of Christian blogs warning everyone that the Golden Compass movie, based on some of his books is leading children to atheism… which is his goal of course — being an Atheist, that would be obvious.

So I thought I would try to post something positive about Phil…

I found an interview with Phil about how he writes, and as I am fascinated with how people work and create I though I would post an excerpt here:

Full Interview

Q: Where and when do you write?

A: I write in my shed, at the bottom of the garden. It’s quite comfortable in there, but because of my superstition about not tidying it during the course of a book, it’s now an abominable tip. I write by hand, using a ballpoint pen on narrow lined A4 paper (with two holes, not four). I sit at a table covered with an old kilim rug, on a vastly expensive Danish orthopaedic chair, which has made a lot of difference to my back. The table is raised on wooden blocks so it’s a bit higher than normal.

I write three pages every day (one side of the paper only). That’s about 1100 words. Then I stop, having made sure to write the first sentence on the next page, so I never have a blank page facing me in the morning.

After lunch I always watch Neighbours. Soap operas are interesting because there’s no limit to the length a story can have it can go on for months, if it’s got some life in it. I like watching the script editors losing interest in one story-line and promoting another instead, and it’s fascinating to watch some characters gaining story-potency as others lose it, and to try and work out why it’s happening. Neighbours is better than EastEnders or Coronation Street for this, because there’s no distracting social comment. It’s all pure story: one thing following another.