How to Write “Fill in the Blank” Songs

By May 8, 2020 Program Updates

Many people find writing down their thoughts and feelings helpful during difficult times. Some people choose to set their words to music and write songs. But, attempting to write a song all at once can be overwhelming. So, we’ve created a simple tutorial to help you start with the basics.

Here you can learn how to write a “fill in the blank” (also known as lyric substitution) with popular songs and tunes that you already know. Below, you’ll hear examples with “I’ve Got Rhythm” and “When I’m Feeling” to the tune of “This Little Light of Mine.” But, you can use any song that you like!

With “I’ve Got Rhythm,” we’ll focus on gratitude. We can think of the names of our loved ones or simple things we may have taken for granted in the past. Thinking of these things helps us hold them in our hearts and thoughts during difficult seasons of life.

In addition, if we are feeling worried, we could use this song to ground us in the present moment, listing the things that are around us, such as things we see or hear. We are all here because of the powerful rhythms within our own bodies. Our heartbeat, the in and out flow of our breath. Even if it is hard at times to feel as cheerful as this song, please remember that you have rhythm inside of you. You matter to the rhythm of the world.

Sing along with the video below to write your own version of I’ve Got Rhythm. You can download this worksheet and write your own lyrics here.

Now, we’ll try writing lyrics to “When I’m Feeling” using the tune of “This Little Light of Mine.” In this song, let’s think about a feeling that can be hard. Sometimes, it might feel like the world is too much, too heavy with too many things. Sometimes, it might feel hard to find bright spots.

Now, what is something that helps you feel better? It can be a phrase, an image, or a safe memory. You can download this worksheet and write your words here.

I want you to remember that you are a bright spot. You existing is a bright spot. You feeling, being with those feelings, and moving through them is a bright spot. Thank you for being. Thank you for shining.

What other songs can you try “Fill in the Blank” songwriting with? We’d love to hear your songs at our upcoming Open Mic events for ages 5-14 OR for ages 15+.

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