Learn how to compose a kids song with this online lesson for kids from the MakingMusicFun.net Music Academy. Want to learn more? Print Composing with Kids | Five 'Recipes' for Success. This printable edition presents students with five "recipes" that help them compose pieces with a variety of flavors. The "recipes" require no understanding of music theory and limited piano performance skills.
Here's a link to free music manuscript paper that you'll need for this lesson.
Grand Staff Manuscript Paper
Composing music is a lot like baking cookies. If you want to bake a certain type of cookie, you have to include specific ingredients. The same is true with writing music. In this lesson I'll teach you everything you need to know to compose a song of your very own. Let's jump in!
Hey! I'm Andy Fling, the founder of MakingMusicFun.net. We create resources for elementary-level music teachers, parents, and students. If that's you, and this lesson is helpful, please consider subscribing!
So many kids' songs are simply scrambled up versions of other kids' songs. They all have the same ingredients. They're just put together in a different way. In this lesson I'll show you the ingredients for "Hot Cross Buns" and then arrange the ingredients in a different way to show you how to compose a song of your very own.
If you finish this lesson and want to learn more, I'll include a link in the description to the MakingMusicFun.net resource, Composing with Kids.
I'll also include a link to free music manuscript paper that you'll need for this lesson.
Let's start by listening to "Hot Cross Buns" and listing the ingredients.
And here's the list of ingredients.
The 1st ingredient has to do with the length of the melody. "Hot Cross Buns" is eight measures long. In fact, eight measures is the length of almost every melody.
The 2nd ingredient is musical form. Form has to do with how music is put together.
"Hot Cross Buns" is made up of four two-measure phrases. The first phrase lasts for two measures and is repeated in measures 3 and 4.
Half way through the song the composer does something completely different and then repeats the first phrase one last time.
To write this song the composer only had to come up with two ideas and arrange them in the perfect way! Since you're just getting started and don’t know a lot about musical form, let’s do that too.
The 3rd ingredient is harmony. "Hot Cross Buns" has two chords, just like tons of other kids’ songs.
The C Chord - which includes C E and G - and the G Chord - which includes G B and D.
To make the composing project simple, let’s use the chord progression from Hot Cross Buns. This way you can focus on writing an awesome melody.
The 4th ingredient is rhythm. Hot Cross Buns uses quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes. Let's stick with this set of rhythms because they’ll be easy to play when you share your song with your parents and friends.
Let's start by composing the first two-measure phrase. You'll use this two-measure phrase three times in your piece.
"Hot Cross Buns" uses notes from the chords every time, but you don't have to. In the first measure you can use C D E F or G. In the second measure it would be good to end on one of the notes in the C Major Chord, which is C E or G.
Here's an example:
C E D E C
Here's another example:
G F E D C
Here's the melody I like best with the left hand chords:
C E D E C
Once you have the perfect idea, write it down in measures 1 and 2, measures 3 and 4, and measures 7 and 8, including the notes from my left hand part. When you're ready, we'll compose the second idea for measures 5 and 6.
The composer of "Hot Cross Buns" made two important compositional choices for measures 5 and 6. He changed to a new and faster rhythm and made it easy to play by repeating the same note four times in each measure.
In my examples I used quarter notes and a whole note. For my second idea I’m going to use only half notes.
Here's one idea:
E D G F
Here's another one:
E E F F
I'm not only switching things up with a new rhythm, I'm also introducing a new note - an F, which adds freshness to the melody.
Here's the idea I like best with the chords:
E D G F
Write your best idea down and give it a try on the piano.
The last step is to try your song all the way through. Here's my "Hot Cross Buns" inspired song for you as an example.
C E D E C - C E D E C - E D G F - C E D E C
If your first idea isn't great, just keep trying. That's what Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven did and they composed tons of melodies that people still like listening to today!