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SongStudio ’09

Kudos to Blair Packham et al (which “al” includes Rik Emmett, Ember Swift, Steven Page, Zack Werner and more!) for setting up SongStudio ’09, described as a “week-long adventure in songwriting at Toronto’s Ryerson University” and scheduled to take place this summer: July 18 – 24, 2009.

Just a bit from the website (which you should visit for yourself):

The week will focus on learning how to write your best songs ever. Best of all, you will get many chances to perform your songs, for supportive, attentive audiences in a warm, nurturing environment.

SongStudio’s format is designed to help you acquire strategies and tools to help turn your ideas into real, finished songs. Good songs that speak to your audience. If you have something to express through song, we can help. Maybe you only write lyrics. At SongStudio, chances are you’ll meet someone who needs help with their words, or who only writes music. And in the meantime, we can help you make your lyrics communicate more effectively, and help you learn how to write effective, compelling melodies and chord changes.

Something else happens at our workshops. Some might call it networking. We prefer to think of it as making friends, and if the last four years are any indication, many of the friendships made at our past workshops will be for life. This is a beautiful thing. So often, songwriting is a solitary art. When the experience can be shared, a community builds.

At SongStudio you will sing, you will laugh, you will listen, you’ll “talk shop”, but most of all, you will grow as a writer and as an artist.

Sounds like a wonderful, creative environment… May the Muse be with them all!

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Professor George Michael?

Okay, this article speaks for itself, so I’ll only preface it with – Huh, what are they thinking? The concept is good (breaking street violence through encouragement of artistic endeavours) but I don’t know if the practice works if George Michael is to be relied upon for seeing this through. No offence to Mr. Michael, but I don’t believe that he has a reputation of being particularly reliable:

Anne Lu – Celebrity News Service News Writer

London, England (BANG) – George Michael’s neighbors want him to fight knife crime. Residents and school officials in Highgate, north London, wrote to the “Faith” singer asking him to support a scheme designed to reduce knife crime in the area where he lives.

A source said: “In the interests on discouraging knife crime, a safer neighborhood group in Highgate has written to ask George for help.”

The former “Wham!” star – who sponsored this year’s Highgate Summer Festival – has been asked to get involved with a program that encourages children to express themselves through music instead of violent behavior.

The source added to Britain’s Daily Star newspaper: “They’re trying to get local children to focus on the challenges they face living in the area and express it in creative songwriting instead of violence. They’ve asked George to use his contacts ideally in organizing a songwriting competition in schools.”

Since January, 65 British teenagers have died as a result of violent crime. Almost 60 percent were stabbed to death.

The 45-year-old singer – whose fans can download his festive single “I Dreamed of Christmas” for free on Christmas Day – is yet to respond to the request.

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Ovation Arts – Songwriting Program for Teens in York Region

Ovation Performing Arts Academy in the Richmond Hill Centre for Performing Arts is offering a Songwriting Program for teens in the New Year. Click the link for more information. The program is NEW and appears to go through Songwriting 101 as well as taking the teens to the process of effectively linking music and lyrics into a successful song.

I wish the program all the best and use this as an opportunity to remind the local community of the Stellula program I posted about a few weeks back. May the Muse be with all the young songwriters…

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More from Daniel Levitin

I really enjoy Daniel Levitin’s musings on music/song, and in particular “songcraft” and the “science” of listening to music. See my previous posts here and here

Today, he appeared in an article in the Arts section of the National Post entitled “Hear My Song“. As always, the remarks are insightful, illuminating and entertaining. On the issue of a person’s desire NOT to learn too much about what is going on as they listen to their favourite music (in hopes of keeping the mystery alive), Dr. Levitin responds in kind:

“I’ve heard that from a lot of people before they start reading about music and the brain, that they’re afraid of learning too much. I’ve never heard from anybody afterwards that they regretted it because they don’t enjoy music any more. In fact, I think people are curious by nature. You go to a magic show, you want to know how the trick was done. Usually when people meet a musician they’ll ask, ‘What were you thinking when you wrote that song.’ I think that understanding the complexity of it increases one’s appreciation.”

And from his recent book, The World In Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature, the “music doctor” professes as follows:

“The brain learns music and language because it is configured to acquire rules about how musical and linguistic elements are combined; its computational circuits (in the prefrontal cortex) ‘know’ the rules about hierarchical organization and are primed to receive musical and linguistic input during the early years of development. This is why the child who is denied exposure to music or language before a certain age (believed to be somewhere between 8 and 12) will never acquire normal music or language skills – the pruning process has already begun, and those neural circuits that were waiting to be activated become eliminated.”

Ah, it may seem so dry, but it is a basic building block… my daughter has been “writing” music since she was 3 – humming melodies and writing lyrics to everyday situations… and I can’t remember when I didn’t do so either… let the Muse be with us…

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