Songwriting Workshop

I had decided to attend the songwriting workshop not only because I am a BTEC Music student, but also because I was genuinely intrigued to learn how to write and compose songs. Provided one of the units on my BTEC Music course required me to write a song, this workshop was extremely useful. About 30 students attended this event, all of which I assume have a strong interest and passion for music.

The visitors for this workshop included Grammy Nominated singer Becki Biggins and her trio – a pianist and a drummer. The event began at 1:30pm where we were given a brief introduction on how to write songs and explored the different features that make a good song. We all contributed with our own ideas by reflecting on our personal favourite songs and what, in particular, made them good. Eventually, we gathered a list of the features: a repetitive beat, meaningful lyrics which tell an emotional story, a good sense of harmony, a well-structured song and most importantly, a simple and distinguishable melody that gets stuck in your head.

After the introduction with the criteria in mind, we were split into groups of 4-6 members and were given time to come up with 2 lines of a song as a starter activity. 2 lines may seem insignificant but I can assure you that it was an incredibly tough thing to do, especially when you have no direction and absolute no clue on the whole song you are going to write about. Singer-songwriter Becki Biggins assisted us and funnily enough, she simply took one of our school folders, flipped to a random page and picked the phrase, ‘distance travelled’. We finally conquered our songwriting block and came up with ideas based upon that chosen phrase. On top of this, we came up with a tune to go with the lyrics by messing around with simple chords on the piano. With a basic tune and minimal lyrics, we managed to write our own song and consequently had the opportunity to perform the song we had composed within the 2 hours, to the whole group. It was a really enjoyable and fun experience to both perform, as well as listen to what the other groups had composed too.

Following the performances, we gathered in a circle and had a quick Q&A session with the artist and her trio, where we were able to ask them any questions regarding their career and how they got into the music industry etc. The main message that I received from this session was that while it is undeniably tough and time consuming to break into the music industry, it is not an impossible thing to do if you simply have the passion and the will to work hard.

Finally, we all merged and wrote another song together. Within an hour, we had a distinct idea of the lyrics and the melody, by combining a sprinkle of imagination and creativity. We all contributed to the final performance with our independent roles. Some were in charge of singing the harmonies; some were responsible for playing the instruments. With help from the pianist, I had a go at playing and improvising the chords on the piano, and the song we had composed together (if you ask me) ended up being a great success! Although the songwriting workshop lasted about 4 hours, I had such a fun time and it was undoubtedly a Wednesday afternoon well spent.

Rachael – F5