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How to get kids writing with jazz

I’m a firm believer in the power of music as a creative force. I’ve written before about using music alongside creative writing in order to see where this takes children on the page, as well as the importance of playlists for my novels. Rhythm and music / Poetry…They’re two sides of the same coin really which is why music can just be the PERFECT tool for creating some unusual writing. Before one of my Magic Pencil sessions, I spent some time searching for a good tune to work with. If you decide to try this with kids, you can use any tune at all, but aim for something without words that has a strong beat and repetitive rhythm (jazz can often be good for this.)


Jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams depicted by Giselle Potter

I chose the opening of Blossom Dearie’s Doop-Doo-De-Doop (See below) up to the part where she sings ‘Why don’t you join the group…’ and here’s a suggestion of how to run this session:

Play the music a number of times up to the speaking part and ask the children to stand in a long line, all facing the same way, and pat the back of the child in front of them with both their hands in the Doop-Doo-De-Doop  rhythm until they feel confident with this (some kids will always find this easier than others.) Next, ask the children to clap the rhythm, either alone or together in a big group.

It’s worth splitting the kids into pairs at this point before they have a go on their own to boost their confidence. Ask them to think of words together that fit the rhythm and to write them down. Tell them they are writing a song, and this is also poetry and creative writing and it doesn’t matter if they choose to tell a little story or prefer words independently from one another that slot into the rhythm. Once they’ve had a whirl at this and the pairs have shared their ideas with the group, they’ll be ready to have a go on their own.

You will be amazed what they come up with. This is poetry and song-writing and creative writing all rolled into one and children (and adults!) will love it. Speaking of which, I’m not going to include any of the pieces the kids in my group wrote, as I’d love you to have a go at this yourself. Just click on the link below, listen to the opening sequence up to the words and get your ideas down. It’s really fun, I promise! Tell me what you come up with 🙂


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