Musicality in Writing Monday

Can you believe that Wednesday is the halfway point?

Where did those 2 weeks go?

*

Remember…

This Wednesday, April 16th, is the last day to register for RhyPiBoMo!

Don’t forget… if you have been following along and reading the blogs, this will make you eligible to win a daily prize donated by one of our guest bloggers. Comment each day you participate and your name will go into the drawing.

*

*

I should also mention that you need to clear your schedule on

Friday, April 25th at 6:00 pm PST

for

Mira Reisberg and Sudipta Bardhan-Quallan’s live Webinar

3 Things You Must Know About Writing Rhyming Kids’ Books!

You won’t want to miss this!

And they have a marvelous Poetry class coming up too! How do I know it’s marvelous? Because I’ve taken Mira’s Courses before…enough said! This dynamic duo will knock our rhyming socks off!

http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/

*

Poetry course

*

*

I’ve known today’s guest blogger for many years. We probably met at the very first writing conference I ever attended, back in 2002. She was a Regional Adviser for Indiana SCBWI, before moving to Missouri, where she continues do school visits and author events. I was proud to ask my friend to join this group of wonderful bloggers as she definitely deserves to be included!

*

*

So, without further ado, I’m honored to present today’s

Golden Quill Guest Blogger

Peggy Archer!

     Rhypibomo Guest Blogger Badge   Peggy Archer

Are You Naturally Musical?

I love music. Which is not to say that I’m ‘naturally’ musical. My husband and I line dance. He’s a much better dancer than I am. But if you can count to 4, you can line dance. Listening to the music helps, because you can ‘feel’ the rhythm.

*

As with dancing, I’m sometimes challenged when it comes to rhythm in a poem. Like counting the steps in a line dance, I count syllables. I look at where the stress falls in the lines. But sometimes this backfires. It becomes too structured. It takes the music out of the poem.

*

Try clapping to the ‘music’ of your poem. Let’s try it with ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm.’

*
Old MacDonald had a farm

*
E-i-e-i-o!

*
And on his farm he had a cow… Uh oh! There’s an extra syllable at the beginning of this line!

*
But like in music, sometimes you can slip in an extra syllable, sort of like a musical grace note.

*

I think songs must be difficult to write. But because you hear it performed, everyone ‘gets’ the rhythm just the way the writer meant it! Not so with a poem. Because a poem is left to the voice of the reader.

*

So how do you know if your reader will ‘get’ the rhythm that you intend? Read your poem out loud. Listen to how it sounds. Do you trip up on any of the words?

*

You’ve read your poem out loud, and it sounds great! But will another person read your poem the same way?

*

Say the word “seal.” Do you say it with one or two syllables?
How about ‘shuffling’ or ‘twinkling.’ Do you pronounce them with two syllables or three?
Do you say address or address?

*

One way to see if your rhythm works for the reader is to ask someone else to read your poem out loud. Do they put the stress in the same places that you do? Do they trip up anywhere? If you need to, you could try rearranging the words, adding or deleting syllables, or using a different word altogether to make it flow.

*

To create ‘music’ in your poetry, listen to the ‘sound’ of your words.

*

Do you want your poem to have a soft or sentimental quality? Use more of the ‘soft’ letters of the alphabet.

*
Over my arm
She softly flows—
cinnamon coat
And whiskery nose… (from “Hampster Hide-and-Seek” by Avis Harley)

*

Or do you want something more concrete? Use more of the ‘hard’ letters in your words.
Down in the dungeon,
dark and deep… (from “Down in the Dungeon” by Rebecca Kai Dotlich)

*

Can you hear the difference? Soft sounding consonants are: R, J, M, N, S, V, W. Hard sounding consonants are K, D, Q, T, B, P. The letters C and G can be either soft or hard.

*

In my picture book, TURKEY SURPRISE, the pilgrim brothers have a song that they sing. It starts out—
We’re two mighty pilgrims
Coming your way…

*

But I wrote a poem, not a song. After the book was published, a friend of mine read it to her daughter’s second grade class, and she sang the pilgrim’s song! “It works perfectly to the Beverly Hillbilly’s theme song!” she said.

*

Maybe I am a bit ‘naturally’ musical! Words dance in my head and I sing from my soul. It’s getting it to sound like that on paper that’s the hard part. Eventually I get it. I just have to remember to listen to the music.

*

poetry selections from A PET FOR ME POEMS, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, HarperCollins 200

*

*

BIO
Peggy Archer grew up and spent most of her life in Northwest Indiana. She currently lives in O’Fallon, Missouri with her husband. She writes fiction, poetry and non-fiction for children and her work has been published in several children’s magazines.

*
Peggy enjoys speaking to children and adults about books and writing. Her speaking experience includes elementary school through high school, and guest speaker at conferences and events for children’s writers.
When she is not writing, Peggy enjoys reading, walking and spending time with her grandchildren and her family.

*
Her picture books include:

*

Dogs

Dial Books for Young Readers 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3322
also carried by Scholastic Book Club

• Name That Dog!, Dial Books for Young Readers, 2010
Name That Dog! was nominated for the 2012 Utah Beehive Award for Poetry, was on Grandparents.com’s Best Collections of Poetry Spring 2010. Name That Dog! is on the accelerated reader list at Renaissance Learning, and is on the Scholastic Book Club list.

*

*

Dawn to dreams

Candlewick Press 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7636-2467-5

• From Dawn to Dreams, Poems for Busy Babies, Candlewick Press 2007
From Dawn to Dreams received a letter of merit from the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Work-in-Progress Grant committee in 2002 and was nominated for the 2007 Cybil Award in the category of Children’s Poetry.

*

*

Turkey Surprise

Dial Books for Young Readers
Illustrated by Thor Wickstrom
ISBN: 0-8037-2969-3
Puffin Books paperback edition
ISBN: 978-0-14-240852-0

• Turkey Surprise, Dial Books for Young Readers 2005
Turkey Surprise appeared on the NY Times Bestsellers list for children’s paperback books in November 2007 and was on Baker & Taylor’s Books for Growing Minds list in 2005. It is on the accelerated reader list at Renaissance Learning.

 

Thank you Peggy Archer!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

RhyPiBoMo Daily Lesson: Monday, April 14th
By Angie Karcher © 2014
Lesson 16

*

Are you Naturally Musical?

*
The gal in this video talks for about 8 minutes about why you should never say that you are NOT musically talented…She’s funny and yet, really sincere and I think everything she is saying about singing can be applied to writing poetry and rhyme. I think everyone can learn to feel the rhythm in music and in your words. It just takes practice, a never-give-up attitude and the desire to learn.

 

*

*

Weeks ago, before I started writing these lessons, I was stuck, waiting on a train one night and listening to the radio in my van. Jim Brickman’s music/talk show was on and he was talking about his creative process. I attended a concert of his once and he is amazingly talented!

*
I was stunned to learn that he does not typically read or write music. That’s not to say that he hasn’t learned the basics of it but generally, as a rule, he plays from the heart. He said that he hears a tune in his head and then hums or sings the tune into his phone recording ap if he’s away from the piano. Then, when he gets home, he sits down at the piano and the notes just come out. He said he knows it’s good if he remembers it without having to retrieve his phone recording.
He said he can play it over and over without ever writing it down.

*
When asked how he manages to work with musicians, singers and full orchestras in his professional life he says that he pays someone else to write it down and create the scores for the others involved. The score writer listens to him play and puts it down on paper.

*
Jim Brickman is naturally, musically talented.

*

*

Jim Brickman

Jim Brickman

*
Here is just a sampling of information from his official website:

*
“Jim Brickman wouldn’t play by the rules. Literally. He was 8, taking private lessons from a piano teacher down the street from his parents’ Cleveland suburb home, but little Jimmy Brickman wouldn’t conform to the rudimentary regulations of piano playing, even after his piano teacher told his mother he “didn’t have the knack for this.” By the age of 12, Brickman found his mentor in the creative tutelage of a Cleveland Institute of Music graduate. As a child, Brickman had studied music at the prestigious conservatory and was honored in 2011 when the Cleveland Institute of Music established a scholarship in his name.

*

That’s all this Shaker Heights, Ohio native needed to set his career in motion, and more than two decades later, Jim Brickman would become the most commercially successful instrumental pop pianist of the last three decades. Four of his albums have been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America – 1995’s By Heart, 1997’s Picture This and The Gift, and 1999’s Destiny – for sales of more than 500,000 copies. Overall, he’s sold more than 7 million albums.
He’s amassed 27 Top 40 singles on the adult contemporary charts, including 14 Top 10 smashes. – And…and…and…”

See more at:

http://www.jimbrickman.com/Home/About.aspx#sthash.Hft2oRD7.dpuf

*

*

I share this with you because this is what being naturally talented is…
That being said, there are hundreds of thousands of successful, talented musicians who learned to read and play music the traditional way and are very successful at their chosen professions.

*

*

His music teacher said that he didn’t have what it takes to play the piano…woops!

*
How many people have told you NOT to write rhyming picture books?

Dr. Seuss got 27 rejections for AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ON MULBERRY STREET before he found his publisher.

*

Mulberry Street

*

My challenge for you today: Prove them wrong!

*

This means that if you were not born with the natural talent to hear or feel the rhythm in your writing, it is still a goal worth attempting. You can easily learn how to feel the sound and musicality in words as you can in music…

*
What does it take? Practice! Practice! Practice!

*

And then Practice some more!

*

*

We have learned a lot of the technical stuff about poetry and its involvement in the words we use to write for children. Now, it’s up to you to take what is available here and apply it to your words. You must believe that you can do it!

*
I think what the funny lady in the video above was trying to express is stay positive, don’t bring yourself or others down by saying things like, “I have no rhythm” or “I can’t do this because I wasn’t born with that gene’

*
We all must use our strengths to our advantage and fight even harder to overcome our weaknesses when it’s something worth doing!

*

I share this quote with you by Mr. Dan Romano…

*
“Music is the hardest kind of art. It doesn’t hang up on a wall and wait to be stared at and enjoyed by passersby. It’s communication. It’s hours and hours being put into a work of art that may only last, in reality, for a few moments…but if done well, and truly appreciated, it lasts in our hearts forever. That’s art. Speaking with your heart to the hearts of others.”

*

The very same thing can be said for writing an exceptional rhyming picture book!

*

Writing rhyming picture books, in my opinion, is the hardest genre of books to write…it’s poetry, it’s picture book, it’s oral literature, it’s early reader material, it’s the introduction to language and then some! That’s a lot of responsibility.

*
You have landed here, on my blog for a reason. A spark fell from the sky and touched your soul and you consciously decided to see if you have what it takes.

*
I’m thrilled to have you here with me on this journey and I know that you will figure out what path is best for you.

*
Today’s post was really just a giant pep talk…I was a cheerleader back in 1985 and once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader! So…Go! Go! Go! And write that magical, rhyming picture book jam-packed full of all the alliteration, onomatopoeia and poetic devices possible, until it is bursting at the seams with your heart…your heart speaking to the heart of others!

*
While you are writing today, listen to this album. Pretend that each note is a carefully chosen word in a picture book. The crescendos and the diminuendos are the conflict, the refrain is what keeps the plot moving and the big climax ending of the song is the conflict resolution. Close your eyes and listen.

*

*

Writing Prompt: Now, make your words musical and joyful, like these songs.

*

*
Jim Brickman – By Heart (Full Album)

*

Enjoy!

78 thoughts on “Musicality in Writing Monday

  1. The music is beautiful, I will keep listening to it while I type tonight. Thank you Angie. Thank you to Peggy Archer and the young lady on the video with her excellent point that everyone can (and should) sing.

  2. Great pep talk Angie! Why do I want to write picture books? I want to create magic on a page. Why do I want to write rhyming picture books? Because even when I try not to, it happens anyway …so now its about learning how to do it properly so it sings– and this is the place to do it– thanks again Angie!

  3. Thanks for the pep talk, Angie! And Peggy Archer’s pointers on hard and soft letter sounds are great too! I shall be thinking about those carefully as I continue to revise my first go at a manuscript…😊❤️

  4. So true! I learn through lots of hard work & practice practice practiceI learned how to play ukulele & sing well enough that I now sing in front of others by myself. After being told I couldn’t carry a tune. Anyone can learn how to sing or learn rhythm, it just takes time. Some have more talent than others but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it too. You learn easiest when you’re young – so get those rhymes/rhythm to the kids!

  5. Thank you, Peggy, for reminding us of the importance of music in our poetry. Jim Brickman’s music is so beautiful, Angie – thank you!

  6. Angie. Just what I needed today! Love the quote about speaking heart to heart! Thank you for all your wonderful work!

  7. Let’s see if the music in my mind makes it to page and rhyme. So far, my dog isn’t buying it. But my cat’s tail says that either it’s fine, or she’s about to attack.

  8. I really appreciate Jim Brickman’s story, which illustrates that there is no ONE correct path to developing one’s craft. Thanks for an inspiring, musical post!

  9. Thank you, Peggy, for your reminder about the effects of using soft and hard sounds appropriately in our poetry. Angie, it was so wonderful to be introduced to the story behind Jim Brickman’s music-making. His melody that you shared in today’s lesson literally sounded to me like the framework for a poem! Hmmm…I think I need to buy an album of his piano poetry for myself….and to share.

  10. Peggy, thanks for making me aware of the soft sounding and hard sounding consonants… and… Angie, thanks for cheering us on!

  11. I appreciate a natural encourager! Thanks Angie:)
    What a great inspirational post on feeling the music of our poetic rhyming picture books in our hearts! I resonated with when some lines stay in my head longer and I don’t need to resort to looking at my notebook to write them down…those tend to be my stronger poems. Have a magical day with music pumping through our hearts and out our pens!

  12. That was a helpful reminder from Peggy to consider whether you’re using the right letters to convey the tone you want in your poem. It was interesting to read about Jim Brickman saying that if something is good, he can remember it without having to retrieve the recording from his phone. Sharon Creech said something along those lines during her key note speech at last year’s NESCBWI conference in Springfield, MA. It was something about how an idea that is really important will keep coming back to you, haunting you, until you finally write it into a book. I always feel like I’ll lose great ideas if I don’t write them down that moment, but perhaps that isn’t true!

  13. Ahh, I love music. And I love writing word music. I hope someday somebody will love “singing” it. So I will keep on keeping on. The cheerleader still in me keeps me going.

  14. Thanks for the pep talk Angie! It seems, we PB writers are always trying to build the self confidence of children but then, sometimes, we forget to believe in ourselves too. Peggy, I enjoyed all your tips but was most appreciative of the comment, sometimes you can slip in an extra syllable. I’ve been working on a rhyming PB and to keep the correct meter, I used the word, on. Even though I felt the word, upon sounded better. The one comment I kept getting was the word should be changed to upon. Now, I have the confidence to change it.

  15. Is it stupid that today’s post made me cry? This weekend was kind of rough and this pep-me-up is just what I needed. Thanks, Angie. And thanks, Peggy, for the encouragement to not be ‘perfect’ syllable-wise. Many times a slight variation in syllable number can be just what you need to feel, and share, the music.

  16. Thank you, Peggy, for the positive voice in your blog post. I’m going to look for the music in my words.

    Angie, I can’t believe we are almost half-way through the month! You and your guests have given so much of yourselves-thank you. I enjoyed listening to Jim’s beautiful album and learning of his story. Thank for the pep talk-you’ve got me moving forward.

  17. Clapping to a poem is helpful. I can only imagine what my murmuring and clapping sounds like out in the hall… just wait till I throw in some foot tapping. Yee-haw!

  18. I love that: “Your heart speaking to the heart of others”. That’s exactly what I want to come through in every story I write, rhyming or not. Thanks for the pep talk, Angie!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s