I don’t know why I suddenly decided to try to write music. I had long had in the back of my mind that it would be fun to write a piece of music, similar to Peter and the Wolf. That eventually morphed into the idea that it would be fun to write a musical for kids. Off and on, I would search for a book for older children that might make a good foundation for a musical. I love to read children’s books, so I thought it would be easy to find one that would be good. But it wasn’t. Some of the good ones had already been turned into movies or musicals; others had too few characters to make a good musical for performing; still others had background information that was simply too complicated for a musical. Some were too serious; some were so silly, I just couldn’t develop an interest in them.
I finally decided that I should choose a book that I really love, one that spoke to me on many levels – and I finally chose Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. It has many of the elements that fascinate me: highly gifted children, a school setting, significant moral dilemmas. I even outlined the book, plotting out parts that would be good to include, thinking about what would need to be left out. I worried a little that the book was too serious for a musical. But then I considered musicals like Les Miserables, Evita, and even Phantom of the Opera. Those subjects weren’t Auntie Mame or Pollyanna either.
I wrote the snippets of several songs for the musical – and then I made a good/bad decision. I should probably check to make sure it was legal to write a musical for Ender’s Game. So I wrote to the publisher. The answer was no. The movie rights to the book had been sold to a company that was planning on making a movie of the book. I could write the musical, but it could never be performed. That, of course, derailed the whole plan. What is the use of writing a musical for kids, if no one could ever perform it? I realize that it had very little chance of being good enough to share anyway, but to have NO chance was different.
Since I was having fun writing songs – however inexpertly – I kept writing. Many of the songs that I wrote at first were sad and rather painful ones. I am not sure where they came from. I still write quite a few of those. But I have also written some the were simply silly, others that are more wistful and contemplative. Most are in a rather 60s-like folk music style. I have tried to write in other genres, but so far haven’t been very successful at it.
One of my songs has been very well received in the places where I have tried performing it. A couple others are a bit less popular, but still work. So, for now I am still writing them. But I still want to write a kids’ musical. I just can’t seem to find another story to write about.