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Shine Everything Is Possible Summer 2021

The man behind the music

One of the reasons parents love Perform is because all its songs, videos and apps are written and produced in-house. We talk to co-founder, Will Barnett, about his process for creating Perform's creative resources.

Why does Perform write and produce its own music?

Before Lucy and I started Perform, we worked in other children's drama schools and found that teachers were using a mixture of nursery rhymes, Disney songs and pop music. We started Perform knowing that using the performing arts to help build a child's social development meant creating resources specially for children. We've always believed that children deserve age-appropriate material that is modern and fun but still full of character to allow them to express themselves while playing a role.

How do you write a good children's song?

Writing songs for children is hard because they view the world differently to adults and you have to tap into that. On the other hand, you get instant feedback because they'll never pretend to like something (especially true of my four children!). Like all creative processes, there's no easy formula but there are five factors you have to get right:

  1. ‚ÄčRange - keep it narrow as children generally have a small range and hate going beyond it.
  2. Rhythm - it is best to have nothing too complicated but nothing too straight-laced or boring either.
  3. Fun - children must find a song enjoyable and catchy to sing.
  4. Lyrics - I like to make them a little challenging (I always try to include at least one word they've never heard of) but not too challenging that they will give up.
  5. Character - is essential so that children can become somebody else when singing. It boosts confidence, helps their development and goes to the heart of what Perform is about. It doesn't matter if you're playing a lonely ghost (Don't be a Ghost) or a dancing broom (Broomstick Flick), character is always at the centre of every song

Give us an example

Funky Fairy (from Fairytale Forest) is one of the most popular Perform songs and one which fulfils most of the criteria above. It has a limited range, a fun swingy rhythm with unusal rhymes and slightly silly lyrics:


I'm the Funky Fairy

My legs are hairy
My clothes are quite unnecessary
I'm tough as mustard
Smooth as custard
Down my garden, I never get busted...

Tell us about the music videos

We started making videos to accompany the themes and productions because we wanted to bring the songs and characters to life using a professional cast. While it's important that children create their own individual performances, seeing a professional actor sing what you are learning can be inspirational and exciting. Our elaborate Alien Invasion and Rise of the Robots shoots involved scores of Lycra-clad dancers and singers performing to bemused tourists in Central London (see all Perform videos on our Youtube channel).

What's next?

I'm constantly looking at creating new engaging material but it's important to remember that the creative resources we produce only exist for one purpose: to get the children inspired so that they can grow in confidence, build their concentration skills and help them to grow to be well-rounded adults who can fulfil their potential. 

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