What is a School Song?
A school song celebrates the institution for which it was written and unifies students and staff in its songwriting. Capture your own school's identity by surveying students and staff for school-specific information to tell your story in your own song or playlist. Once you have a collection of anecdotes and ideas that represent the essence of the school, convert your notes into memorable song lyrics, chord progressions and a catchy melody. School songs can be used at any level of school, from pre-K to high school. Songwriting is a creative process, so think about your favorite song, music videos or the first song you hear in a day to influence your school song creation. This could be the first time your school has had a school song, so consider lyric writing, how learners can react to it in the school, and possible hand motions to go with the lyrics included. Music teachers can also be a big influence in the school song process as well.
How to Create a School Song
1. Use a Meaningful Title
Summarize the main theme of your song in the title. It should be singable and stand up to repetition in the lyrics so that it can be used in the song's chorus. A good song title is like the topic sentence of a paragraph: It encapsulates the message of the rest of the words. Think of other popular songs to come up with creative title ideas.
2. Fine Tune Your Lyrics
Study existing songs to learn song lyric structure. Organize ideas into sections and select partially repeating elements for the pre-chorus and a distinct message for a bridge. Use your song title in the chorus. Rewrite parts of the lyrics that sound clumsy when you sing them. Use vowels for sustained -- long -- notes; for example, the last note of "The Star Spangled Banner" is held using the "ay" vowel sound in the word "brave." New lyrics to a new song can be tricky to come up with, so take your time with the song structure.
3. Use an Effective Melody
A song's chorus is typically the hook, or the part you remember most easily, and this is often accomplished by higher notes in the melody. For a school song, ensure that the entire melodic range of the song is not too broad. Three octaves -- or a 21-note range -- is considered achievable by most singers after training, so keep your song melody within two octaves, or a range of 14 notes or less from highest to lowest. The melody should be simple, somewhat predictable and not too high or low. Also think about a bass line and chord structure within the main musical aspect of the song. Different sections of the song can have different aspects of music you want to include.
4. Think of Symbols of Your School
Many school songs include symbols relating to their school. These symbols can include towns, mascots, teachers, sports or other specific school identifications. Symbols can be used as a starting point when in the songwriting process. While there is no specific step-by-step guide to school songwriting, we think starting with symbols can be beneficial.
5. Consider Legacy
When creating a school song, think of the ways that it can capture your school as a whole. Some songs can reference things in the present, but others may try to have a timeless effect to their lyrics to make sure that the legacy of the song can live on throughout time. As changes to our society and ways of living happen everyday, making a lasting song for your school may be a good way to ensure that it can continue to be used into the future.
Nancy Lovering is a writer, photographer and teaching assistant. She took novel writing at Langara College and photography at British Columbia Institute of Technology. She obtained her teaching assistant certificate through Delta School District Continuing Education. She previously worked as an assistant controller while in the Certified General Accountants program, and has training in dog psychology through Custom Canine Teaching Ltd. in Vancouver, BC.