But wouldn’t it be cool to create your own? Today, we’re going to share some essential tips so YOU can create educational songs of your own. Our entire goal over here at Jam Campus is to help all of you as teachers and students, to start making your own educational songs and videos and sharing them with your friends.
While it’s certainly helpful to watch our Jam Campus videos on repeat and share them with your friends, really the best way to learn is by DOING. By the time you finish creating your own song and music video about a certain topic, I guarantee you’re going to know a heck of a lot more about that subject than anyone else you know.
For me, I hardly remembered anything about photosynthesis until I dressed up in a flower costume and started busting out these award deserving dance moves. And now I’m totally prepared for the next time the American Society of Plant Biologists gives me a call and asks me to be their keynote speaker. No, it hasn’t happened yet. But I can sleep soundly at night knowing I’ll be ready when the time comes.
So whether you’re a student looking to crush your next school project, or you’re a teacher that wants to start creating some awesome customized content for your next lesson, we hope this is a helpful start for you. Think of this creative process as a way to learn the facts of your topic, but also a way to build your critical thinking and creativity skills at the same time.
I’ve been creating educational music videos for over 15 years now and from this experience, I’ve learned a TON along the way that I’d like to share with you. Before we jump into, we’re going to be creating plenty more posts and videos like this in the coming months. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel to make sure you stay up to date with the new videos.
NOTE: This tutorial is not meant to be a step-by-step guide. Instead, use this as a checklist of best practices throughout the entire process of creating your song.
And here we go: five of the essential tips for YOU to create your own educational songs and videos.
1. Choose the right topic and song
For selecting the right topic, this will be different depending on your situation.
If you’re a student and your teacher has already assigned you a specific topic for a project, this takes care of this entire step and makes it a little easier for you to start off.
If you do have your topic, do a little search on YouTube. If there are already other songs created around your topic, that’s great! Check them out and use them as inspiration or challenge yourself to see how you can make your video easier for your audience to understand.
If you’re a teacher, here’s my suggestion: write out a list of topics you cover throughout the year. Then, circle the topics that your students have historically found the most challenging or the least exciting.
When your entire class is sleeping through your lecture, it’s time to turn it into a song! It’s also a good idea to take a look at YouTube to find out if there are any songs already available. If it’s a topic your students find challenging/boring AND there aren’t any songs available on the subject, you’ve found your winner.
The goal here is to take a subject that is challenging or boring and make it into something fun, exciting and relatable.
And now for selecting the right song: Make sure you choose a good instrumental audio track. If you’re just starting out, I’d suggest creating a parody, which means taking a popular song and changing the lyrics to fit your learning topic.
Make sure you select a song that you’re going to enjoy listening to for the long haul. With the writing and editing, you’ll have to do, you’re going to be hearing this song A LOT on repeat.
And just remember that the catchiest songs tend to work best for memory retention.
If you need help or can’t find any instrumental tracks, we have some over at Jam Campus we can send you. Sign up for our email list on our downloads page to receive free instrumental audio tracks.
2. Spend most of your time writing great lyrics
Writing great lyrics is arguably the most important part of this entire process, and often the part of the process where most learning song creators cut corners.
The goal here is to pack your educational song with as much valuable information as you can. Think of each individual word as an opportunity to teach. That means you’ll want to remove all of the “fluff words and lines” in your lyrics.
For example, I wouldn’t recommend lyrics like, “Lincoln was the sixteenth president, and he was a really cool gent.” This line only tells your audience one thing: that Lincoln was the sixteenth president. The second line is a complete waste of time. Even if he was a really cool gent (which he probably was), that doesn’t really help you as the writer OR your audience understand any more information about President Lincoln.
Instead, you could try lyrics that are more specific, such as “Lincoln was the sixteenth president, won the election as a Republican.” Here we not only get that he was the sixteenth president but also which party Lincoln was affiliated with.
So the point there, be more specific in your lyric writing. It will take you more time to write, but it’s a great way to A) challenge your own brain, and B) make sure your song totally rocks.
My strongest recommendation is to give yourself plenty of time for writing your song. Do a little bit each day. Read back over your previous lyrics (especially the lazily written words) and see if you can add any more details in there. If you spend the time, I promise you’ll be amazed at the results.
3. Make sure your audio recording is high quality
Nothing turns an audience off more than a video with poor audio quality.
To me, it’s almost worse than rubbing a fork on a glass plate. And this audio quality rule doesn’t just for music videos. No matter what type of video you’re creating, make sure your audio quality is as high as possible.
This doesn’t mean you have to go spend $300 on a fancy expensive microphone. I mean, they do help. But if you’re committed to creating videos, I’d recommend getting an external USB microphone if you’re going to be making a few videos.
They help a ton.
If you’re looking to do this on the real cheap, you can always just use your phone to record your voice. There are plenty of free voice recording apps in the app store.
When recording audio, make sure you’re in a quiet, small room and try to reduce echo as much as you can. Make sure you’re not too close to the microphone and not too far away.
And don’t worry if you’re not a great singer. I know that I can’t sing very well, but I just go for it. Trust me, I’ve received way more “THE CRINGE IS REAL” comments than I’d like to admit to.
There is always free auto-tuning software to sharpen up the vocals. But what I’d really recommend is just continuing to practice. Try out some of our karaoke songs until you feel comfortable enough creating your own song.
4. Use compelling visuals
If you’re recording your own video, you’re going to need a costume.
No good educational music video is complete without a ridiculously awesome costume. Hit up your local Goodwill and go wild in the $1.99 section.
If you’re the one starring in the show, don’t be afraid to get a little weird and crazy with the facial expressions and dance moves. My biggest recommendation here when you’re in front of the camera is to really go for it. Let it all out. Drink an extra cup of coffee before you hit the record button and JUST. GET. WEIRD.
Often times when you’re singing and dancing on screen, you’ll THINK that you’re being much more expressive than you actually are.
If you let loose and get a little weird on screen, your final product is guaranteed to be much more interesting, meaningful, and memorable.
And HUGE BONUS: you’re certain to have more fun making the video.
You’re probably going to want to add some images over top to help your audience grasp the topic.
The best part here is that you can just use Google Images and download images for free. Just make sure the image quality is set to high and that you’ve filtered images as “labeled for reuse”. You don’t want to illegally use somebody else’s images for your video!
To navigate in this way on Google Images, select Tools, Size, Large. And make sure the usage rights are “labeled for reuse” if your video is going out to the public.
5. Include captions of your lyrics
This is one I learned early on creating educational music videos: include captions at the bottom of your video so your audience knows what your song is about.
I may not look as cool and it may be annoying to type your lyrics in before you export your video, but I promise it drastically enhances your learners’ experience.
Sometimes, your vocals are going to be going really fast in a rap and your learners won’t be able to understand you the first time. Other times, you might slur the lyrics and it ends up being hard to hear. Either way, including the text on the screen, is immensely helpful.
Pick a color that is easy to read, like white. I use white text with a light black stroke around each letter so that the audience would still be able to read if the background image was entirely white. It’s seemed to work out well so far.
And that’s the five tips to get you started on creating your own educational song and video. We’ll definitely be putting out more videos like this to help you create your own songs.
If you create anything cool, send it our way as we’d love to check out what you’ve made. To learn more about creating your own educational songs, please subscribe to the Jam Campus channel here. Catch you next time!