Songwriting Workshops – Review (Mid Herts + Stevenage)

Written by: Musicnet East

25 November, 2015

Review from Suzi Bowden (Workshop Leader) – Mid Herts Centre for Music & Arts (27/10/15) – Stevenage Music Centre (28/10/15) Last October half term I co-ran two workshops showing young people to come along write, record and perform a song in one day. They were quite large groups of about 25 young people per workshop with an age range of 8-18. Challenging aspects of the session were combating ‘writers block’ brought on by the insecurities of the individual or a lack of knowledge as to where to start. However, this is easily combatted by having some appropriate resources, such as a page of popular idioms, to hand to start things off. Really important to these sessions is how we present ourselves and build relationships with the young people. The best approach I have found is through being gentle, interested, validating and having an easy manner when communicating. Plus a bit of good humour! Treating each young person as an individual – with specific interests, needs and ways of working. This promotes creativity.  For us as leaders and for the students it is important to understand their group’s dynamics and strengths and weaknesses. The most important skill we try to promote to the students is listening and that the contribution of each member is valued. We try and reinforce these skills in how we interact with groups as well. However with younger members it can be tricky to monitor what happens when we are not around! It was delightful to see students writing some truly interesting lyrics and being proud of what they had written. The emphasis was put on the use of idioms, metaphors and generally interesting wording and the use of a thesaurus on day two seemed invaluable. Another brilliant moment was when we saw a greater understanding of more advanced song components and seeing that come through in the end product e.g including a middle 8 or pre chorus, 7th chords etc. Some of the best memories of the sessions were seeing those students who had demonstrated a real anxiety about performing or singing in front of the group, go on to perform. I believe this was achieved by encouraging the participants to talk about their anxieties and share thoughts on how to combats nerves and techniques to help performance. Songwriting allows students to delve into and expand their current understanding and perception of music as a whole. It allows for strengthening of identity, emotional expression, and development of self-esteem – setting small, supported goals can leads gently to genuinely big achievements! The workshops were filmed for MusicNet East by Light Gap Productions – watch below! We are running two Songwriter Showcases in early December 2015, featuring artists who attended these workshops! To attend the performances and to find out more, click below. – Songwriter Showcase – Stevenage Music Centre (4th December) – Songwriter Showcase – Mid Herts Centre for Music & Arts (9th December)

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