Thursday saw me do something I’ve never done before. Well, two things, actually. Firstly, being in central London by 8:45 am (the trains actually worked, so I was more than an hour early!). And going to an introductory course with The Songwriting Academy. I wasn’t at all sure what to expect, but it was a brilliant day, in every respect.
I’m not new to writing songs, my Christmas carols were performed at school, with me accompanying on piano, from when I was 7. Then, after getting my first bass guitar for Christmas from my Mum when I was 13 (it’s red, and something of a collector’s item!), I started writing for our band. Some songs had more promise (“You look fine but you just don’t care, you say you like me but you know that ain’t fair…”) than others (“They’re the backstreet girls, with their backstreet guys, they pretend they got love, but it’s all just lies!”), although we gigged both of those in local pubs!
I’ve written over a hundred songs, and some of the great writers say you have to write 100 before you start writing any good ones, and even then you should be writing 100 a year!! But I’d argue that there’s some gems amongst mine already, of course! And last year, I co-wrote a musical pantomime, which was performed by a small village group. The amazing feedback included a London rep suggesting that some of it would already genuinely be fit for the West End. But I still hadn’t decided to start pushing as hard as you need to in the music business.
That’s what changed on Thursday. Martin Sutton, founder of the Academy, has an enthusiasm for songwriting which is infectious! His excellent teaching covered everything from the approach to writing, to tips on crafting a good song, demos, and “what sells”. Even if quite a bit of it I’d already honed in my own technique, – or had learnt over the last couple of years through collaboration, being more self critical (in a good way!), and reading a book, – it was absolutely all stuff that I still needed to hear. Especially when it’s explained so clearly. But the encouragement to “get on and do it” was what I’m still buzzing with now, half a week later. The other huge bonus was meeting other like minded people (although, as I said on Facebook, I pity anyone who’s got a mind like mine, haha!). The other aspiring songwriters and singers on the course came from a wide range of backgrounds, styles, and levels of experience, but all were very friendly, supportive and interesting. I’m hoping to keep in touch with people I met, I’m already making plans to write more with other musicians, and am starting to use my powers of persuasion (seaside fish and chips, anyone?!) to record some of my favourite songs so far with talented singers. Keep watching this space!