Gifts don’t always come in a box. Sometimes, the best gifts are simply heard and felt with the heart. Imagine the look on dad’s face when he hears a song… for him, from the voice of his child.
A song from the heart can be created and given by children who are just starting to talk, to those who are ready to be creative songwriters, at any level. I could GIVE you a song to teach your child to sing… but with a little time and creative juices flowing, the gift of a personalized song will be a far better treasure.
Critical Element #1: Begin with NO EXPECTATIONS !
Let the child and their heart lead the process. Of course, every child will need their own level of support by a favorite adult who may help facilitate and guide. The more it comes from the child, the more proud they will be to share this gift.
First question to ask: Do we start with the music, or what you want to say ? There is no right answer. But it gives a place to start by making this choice
Critical Element #2: Music
To determine the MUSIC, you may start by talking about their favorite songs they LOVE to sing… or even love to hear. Using a familiar melody, and coming up with new words, or a new way to present it is a centuries old way of creating new music. Some call it piggybacking on a melody.
Somewhere around 3 + years old, a child may want to sing whatever melody comes out as they sing it. It doesn’t even ever have to be the same twice.
Critical Element #3: Words
To determine the right words to express their thoughts about DAD, it is time to BRAINSTORM ! Get a big piece of paper and start writing down all the things that have to do with Dad. This is a great skill to support, as it is a great way to start most any project. Young children love how important they feel when their thoughts are written on a piece of paper… especially if they get to choose the color. You may ask some open ended questions: Let’s write down 3 things about how Dad looks… (giving a random number helps them think of more that ONE idea at a time). Tell me 3 things that you and dad love to eat together. Let’s list the things you and dad like to eat together. What kind of fun nicknames do you call him ? When Dad gets to play, what do you LOVE to do with him?
It may even have nonsense words included. Lots of great music has nonsense words.
Just this may help get you started and let you fly… but perhaps you may enjoy some options I have been thinking about. And be inspired by some amazing songs about Dads. (See videos at end.)
SONGS INVOLVING a BABY
Option 1: Before a child can speak, they can make music…. playing instruments & making noises. Pick one of dad’s favorite songs, and play along. If you can sing it, let the child lead the rhythm, and only sing when the child plays the drum. The reaction may be fascinating.
Option 2: “DADDY!” – If your child’s only word they can sing is “DADDY”, then sing all the parts of the song, but leave a space open for the child to sing that loving title. It doesn’t have to fit into the song, or even rhyme. Just pause long enough to give them space to sing it.
For example… “You are my sunshine… DADDY… my only sunshine… DADDY… you make me happy… DADDY.. when skies are grey…” You get the idea.
You may need to use a cue or prop to help the child know when to sing that word, such as a picture of Dad raised at the right time, or just pointing both fingers their way.
Song Writing with TODDLERs & TWOs
Perhaps your toddler/two year old has a favorite song they LOVE to sing. After singing a few of their favorite verses, ask them questions that will help them change some of the words to make it specific to the unique relationship they have with their dad.
Option 1: “WHEELS ON THE BUS” tune. Questions: What kind of sounds does Daddy make? or What kind of sounds do Daddy and I make together?
- “My daddy on my belly goes Brrrrmmmm, Brrrmmmm, Brrrmmm.”
- “My daddy gives me kisses like *, *, *.” (How do you write kissing sounds?)
- “Daddy and me fly oh so high, oh so high…”
- “Me and my daddy go Roll, Roll, Roll…” – and choose different actions for more verses to enjoy together.
Option 2: “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” tune – Questions: What does daddy do with you? Hint… good brainstorming is neccessary, rhyming is not.
“Daddy tickles on my feet, Daddy messes up my hair. Daddy swings me up so high. Daddy lifts me to the sky. Daddy splashes me in the bath. Daddy loves me… yes, yes, yes.”
Song Writing with Young Creative Minds
Option 1: This age LOVES to find creative ways to move… wants to show off, be silly and wants dad to join in the fun.
It helps to start with a familiar song. “Hey Lolly”, a folk song by Woody Guthrie is SO much fun to sing, and it is very versatile for new words to be added. Download it from play.kindermusik.com HERE: Hey Lolly
“Hey Daddy, Daddy Daddy, Hey Daddy, Daddy-O. I’m DANCING with my daddy… Hey daddy, Daddy-O” – and switch out types of actions.
Take it a step further, and let it get silly…
“Hey Daddy, hop with me, then spin and spin and spin… We get dizzy and fall down, then do it all again.”
Option 2: Let the words take the lead. Use the brainstorming technique to get lots of thoughts written down (add simple pictures if a child is not yet reading). Cut around each thought, so you can move them around each other and play around with the order of things. Some children at this age are happy to sing whichever pitches come to them at the moment when they sing.
This song features how a child feels while riding around with his dad on a JCB (heavy construction equipment). Amazing songwriting by an adult, from a child’s perspective… LOVE the song & the drawn cartoon.
One of my favorite songs featuring children singing about their dad is “Mama Look A Boo Boo”. I first heard it on a Harry Belefonte album… CLASSIC ! We got all the cousins singing this to our dads at a family reunion ! Here is Harry Belefonte and Nat King Cole doing this song up right !
A professional singer/songwriter, Jon Barker created this song for his father on Father’s Day. May you be inspired. I was.
May all of you fathers out there know how much your interactions, involvement, and love make such a difference in your child’s life, and in the world.
Happy Father’s Day