I love hearing my twin granddaughters singing, and they know all about my love for colour – so of course they were proud to sing for me the new song they had learned at school. The Arthur Hamilton song ‘I Can Sing a Rainbow’ was written for the 1955 film Pete Kelly’s Blues, but made famous by Cilla Black in 1966… How strange to hear 21st century children singing these same words to their Yayah (Spanish word for Nana!), as this was the ‘rainbow song’ they had been taught at school.
But it’s all wrong! The idea of a rainbow song should surely be to help children learn about the wonderful intersection of science, sunlight and art that the rainbow truly is, the real spectrum created when the droplets of water split the sun’s white light into the shades we recognise: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo violet. Sorry Cilla, but pink isn’t really even a colour, it’s just a dilution of red! But this is the song our children and grandchildren are still being taught, because there is so little else out there. Teachers have told me they don’t even teach very young children about the rainbow any more, because they don’t have the tools they want to do it properly and accurately… how sad.
That was until I woke at 3 in the morning… no rainbows then just starlight, but the lyrics poured out of me in the darkness, almost complete in that single session. After that I could sleep again, because something inside had been released creatively, that had needed to find its own expression. By morning, the rhythm of the words had suggested their own tune, a new rainbow song that would teach children the correct order of the colours, and the glory of the rainbow world that they live in, celebrating every child of the new century in a meaningful and powerful song they can all join in.
What better way to test the reaction of the song than to sing it to my 4yr old granddaughters. They loved it and were soon joining in with ease. I couldn’t get the song out of my head and it played on a continual loop. Then the answer to my prayers came just a few days later. A chance meeting with Rich Sanford, a local musician led to us working together to get the song out into the world. Myself, Rich and a group of enthusiastic local children helped to polish the lyrics and sharpen the timing of the tune, and led to the recording and video you see below.
All the children involved in the song had so much fun, the words and music were so simple for them to pick up and enjoy, that learning a lesson about colours happened naturally and playfully whilst we all sang along!
The recording of ‘The Rainbow Song’ © Lynda Smith of Colour In My World, is available to download here from iTunes, and as a special bonus for our blog readers, email your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you back a transcript of the lyrics for you to use in teaching or sharing the song with the special children in your life.