THE SONG-WRITING PROCESS (METHOD TO MY MADNESS)
My melodies, lyrics and musical ideas are extremely catchy. I’m acutely aware of it. As a matter of fact, I know my material is so catchy that it’s annoying and I’m more than OK with it! As a singer/songwriter, it’s my job to write what the audience member will remember and as a music educator, it’s my job to teach so the student will learn, retain, apply, practice and perform. When I write, I have specific guidelines, benchmarks and goals in mind 100% of the the time and there is a method to my madness.
STEP ONE: MELODIC INTERVALS & EAR TRAINING
I formulate the best possible combinations of interval patterns for the development of ear training, listening skills, relative and perfect pitch. I make sure the combinations are repeated throughout the song as many times as possible, ensuring the song gets “stuck in your head”. Once the song is stuck in your head, you can’t help but sing it over and over again internally or out loud. The end result: you’ve been practicing ear training, listening skills and singing without even knowing it.
STEP TWO: THE MAIN IDEA
I make sure all Music Monkey Jungle original songs, dances and games have age appropriate main ideas for kids between the ages of baby to late elementary school. Some will focus on dance and movement, some will focus on lyrics and melody, some will focus on active imagination and all will focus on ear training, listening skills and direction following.
STEP THREE: LISTENING SKILLS & DANCE MOVES
The active audience member is asked to listen in order to follow instructions and following the instructions of Music Monkey Jungle material requires learning and understanding body awareness, spatial awareness, personal space and range. Once the theme of the song is learned, I add variations of tempos and dynamics as a fun challenge. The end result: music monkeys practice listening, following instructions, body awareness, spatial awareness, personal space and range while moving fast, slow, high and low without getting bored or losing focus. Practicing without even knowing it!
STEP FOUR: COMFORT AND COMMUNICATION THROUGH CALL & RESPONSE
The active audience member is asked to listen and either respond with echo call and response or question and answer call and response. Either way, both forms entail an understanding of following the leader, what a singing voice sounds like and what a singing voice feels like. Sometimes the main ideas of these songs are silly, sometimes the main ideas are serious but I always make sure to present the main ideas in an easy-to-analyze and fun manner. Once the song is learned, I add variations of tempos and dynamics and the result is: little music monkeys practice listening, following instructions, hearing and singing highs mediums and lows, echoing through call and response, question and answering through call and response, understanding that all songs have a certain form while having fun.
STEP FIVE: ACTIVE IMAGINATION
The active audience member is asked to listen to the song in comfortable surroundings, with eyes closed. The main ideas of these songs are presented in a humorous manner but when they’re dissected and analyzed, it’s obvious they have deeper, lesson-learning meanings. I give guided instruction, before during or after the song, that helps the listener imagine in their creative minds and express their own ideas through drawing, writing and improvised movement. The end result; music monkeys listen, hear, imagine, express, draw, write, improvise movement and share with others. Public speaking, teamwork.
STEP SIX: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
The last part of my songwriting process is grounded in Cognitive Development. I have a clear understanding of the ages I'm writing for and the learning milestones associated with their development. I balance components of Orff-Schulwerk, Language Arts, Multiple Intelligences & various styles of learning into the mix and try my best to create a safe, comfortable and caring environment for creativity, risk taking and active participation.
STEP SEVEN: ARRANGEMENT & RECORDING
I write, record and produce at an alarming rate. Because of this uncanny knack for creation, Andrew built the Music Monkey Jungle Recording Studio in 2010 and In Your Head Productions was born in 2017. I've become quite proficient with ProTools and became a voting member of The Recording Academy in 2017. Wanna work together? Gimme a shout!