Today, we visited an elementary school and wrote three songs with first graders. It’s one of my favorite things to do – writing and recording a simple song in 45 minutes, collaborating with the teacher and the kids to make a pleasant song. It’s a kind of magic trick to do it so fast and I like it!

The first song, “I Have a Dream”, was inspired by some sentences the children had posted outside their classroom in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I’ve been reading some of King’s speeches the last two days. I’m always struck by his positive outlook despite the hardships in front of him. He inspires me still.

Songwriting is one step better than blog writing because of its music, of course, but also for that magic. The challenge, as I see it, is to grab an idea from the air, put it down on paper then return it into the air as a song.

Perhaps Dr. King felt something spiritual when he wrote a speech, allowing his type of magic to jump from the air, onto paper and out through a speech.

Magic, to me, is spirituality by another name. Like many songwriters, I see myself as one-half song receiver and one-half song crafter. They both can be taught, but it’s much easier to teach the craft. The other part, the spiritual butterfly hunt, is another matter entirely and difficult to put into words. But let’s try…

I think it’s about allowing love, beauty and emotion to play on the edge of one’s awareness. It is like a butterfly hunt, but it can also be like jumping onto a bullet train or catching a wave.

In the stillness of creation before I write a word or play a note, I open my third eye and and something just lands or rushes by or builds like a wave. The trick, I think, is to move with it, to allow it to lift you and then dance with it. Hopefully, that makes sense.

It happens in seconds, though a good writer can make it last longer and stick with it until the song is complete or nearly so. In my case, I can do one like today’s “I Have a Dream” in 30 minutes of classroom time. But a good or great one takes about two hours.

Whatever it really is, it’s still like the magic shows I watched as a kid. When something appears out of nowhere, it’s just plain wonderful.


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