Christmas Holiday workshops now open for bookings!

Write a Christmas smash hit with our professional songwriters!

Where?  West London & Winchester

WEST LONDON at The Holy Trinity Church, Brook Green, Hammersmith, W6 7BL

Monday 19 (2-6pm) & Tuesday 20 December (2-5pm)

WINCHESTER at The Railway Inn, 3 St Pauls Hill, Winchester, SO22 5AE

Tuesday 13 (1-4pm) for 8-11 year olds

Wednesday 14 December (1-4pm) for 12-16 year olds

Who?  Two groups: 8-11 year olds and 12-16 year olds

Join our dynamic & spontaneous songwriting & singing workshops over the Christmas holidays.  Our vibrant groups of young songwriters collaborate on writing & producing an original song with our hit songwriters across two afternoons with a performance at the end.

We develop participants creative lyric writing skills, improvisation of melodies, harmonies and rhythm skills, and composition of instrumental parts/riffs and solos. Participants choose the style of music – rock, country, jazz, pop, rhythm & blues, hip hop, urban, latin, electronic, folk or a new mixture! Those that play an instrument can bring it along and those that don’t can focus on creating the vocal harmonies.

£95 for two afternoons (7 hours) with a performance at 4:45pm on the second afternoon for friends & family

£35 for the one afternoon (3 hour) workshops in Winchester, with a performance at 3.45pm.

To enquire/book – click here for the online booking form.

or email contact@songacademy.co.uk or text/call 07710 023743.

“Lets their musical and creative side run free” – Jo, Mother

“It’s awesome creating a song from scratch with professional songwriters!” – Amy, 14 years old

“Inspirational” Charlotte, Mother

 

#SAYS16 The Competition So Far… (13-18 category)

The SAYS 16 competition is well underway and entries are flying in. Here are some highlights from the 13-18 category.

Young songwriters have been put words to music to address important issues such as mental health and family bereavement.  Entries also include witty lyrics about exams stress and Instagram (Life in the Teenage), love of coffee (Cappuccino) and there’s even a song about teenage fantasy fiction (More Than Fiction)

Illusions by Emi McDade – is about an unhealthy relationship and a delusional mindset with skewed perception of reality “Playing anagrams with your emotions just to feel like someone understands”

Midnight Men by Jay Johnson – is about all people who work thankless jobs at night that go unrecognised “As sure as you’ve got your head rested on a pillow still…there’s a girl resting her head on a till.

Two Cigarettes by Ralph Taylor – The song uses smoking as a metaphor for love “It seems so strange to smoke our love away, you’re the lighter to our flame, cos when our hearts fade, you spark them up again”

Lifeline by Reuben Gray – Lifeline is a captivating duet between a male and female singer about love and forgiveness.

Wanderin’ Man by Gus Harrower – Gus’s song as inspired by ‘Into The Wild’ and the story of Christopher McCandless

American Girl by Brierley – Is an impressive dance banger that was entirely self-produced by Oliver Brierley -Jones.

Logic by Jessi McDonald – has ethereal and haunting melodies and was written in response to religious extremism.

Lighter by Roman Lewis – An uplifting and acoustic rock song about overcoming rejection and persevering with your dreams

Don’t Slip Away by Kelsey Sadler – An emotional performance of a song written about a family illness before her grandmother sadly passed away.

Destiny by Romy Duggal – Destiny is an empowering song about standing strong and making dreams a reality.

#SAYS16 The Competition So Far… (7-12 category)

The SAYS 16 competition is well underway and entries are flying in. Here are some highlights from the 7-12 category.

Entrants have written about everything from rugby to maths. Facing up to bullies is a recurring theme (such as in Praveen’s song, Try). As the performers of  Leaving Here  sing, “By writing these songs, we found where we belong”; in songwriting, young people have found a way to channel their feelings.

Her Name – Pixie McCann  Pixie sings bluesy inflected melodies in her song about young love and rejection, written for her friend who suffered heartbreak at the school disco.  “Don’t be angry with yourself, emotions bottled on the shelf.

Afraid of the Dark – Max Eastland Park Max’s uplifting and encouraging song is about getting over your fears. “I turn at a flicker of light, each shadow picks a fight”

Daisy Chains – S Kohl Daisy Chains is an upbeat jazzy number. The song is about her experience of making friends as someone with Aspergers syndrome and “Daisy Chains” is a metaphor for friendship.

Bad Dream – Lulu Hogan Lulu wrote her song for her best friend, after she moved across the Atlantic from Boston to London. “I sit down and see your face painted in the clouds”

Music – Safa Khan  Safa wrote her song about what music means to her, and took inspiration from Coldplay for a catchy singalong chorus.

There is still time to enter the Young Songwriter Competition – submit your entry before April 9th.

Music video of ‘Right To Be Loved’ released today

Our music video for ‘Right To Be Loved’ is released today!

Eleven talented singer songwriters from Song Academy, aged between 12 and 16 have written a song to have it’s premiere performance at the “Voice In A Million” (VIAM) concert, entitled ‘Right To Be Loved’. VIAM is a promoter of school/singing events with the ambition to positively change the perception of Adoption and Fostering both in the UK and worldwide.

Click here to buy ‘Right To Be Loved’ on iTunes.

Through the power of songwriting and music, these 11 Song Academy young songwriters aim to remind the world that everyone has a right to be loved, has a right to belong and a right to a brighter future. Their aim is to raise awareness of the large number of vulnerable children in care and the difference that adoption and fostering makes in the world, for both child and parent.

The idea for ‘Right To Be Loved’ was sparked during a meeting between Rowena Atkins, Director of Song Academy and Jo Garofalo, founder of Voice In A Million. They were talking about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition and giving one of the winner’s the opportunity to perform at the VIAM show. It was a natural step to utilise the talents of Song Academy members to write an original song on the topic of children, adoption & fostering so helping the VIAM mission.

Founder and CEO of Song Academy, Rowena Atkins said “It was a perfect fit – young children writing about the plight of young people in care whilst also making their song relevant to older children and parents adopting – reminding the world that everyone has a right to be loved and a right to be a part of a loving family unit. I’m incredibly proud of ‘Right To Be Loved’ and hope it rocks the world.” A thank to our sponsors PRS for Music, Yamaha, Dawsons Music & Farida.

Founders of VIAM, Jo & Robert Garofalo said “We are delighted to welcome Song Academy to Voice In A Million this year, our mission includes giving talented youngsters the opportunity to shine on world class stages. Song Academy’s ‘Right To Be Loved’ is in perfect harmony with VIAM’s ethos.”

The premiere performance of ‘Right To Be Loved’ will be at the Voice In A Million show at Wembley Arena on 2nd March 2016. Right to be loved was produced at Studio Rokstone – home of ASCAP award winning songwriter and chart producer Steve Mac. The producers were Tim Laws, ASCAP award winning songwriter and record producer, Pete Craigie, engineer, arranger, mixer and live production and Diane Allison Young DAYTime Entertainment.  Our music video was produced by Steve Coleman.

If you’re aged 7-18 and write your own original songs – enter The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2016 competition before 9th April. Check out how to enter.

Easter holiday workshops – be a songwriter, recording artist & producer!

Aged 8-16? Love singing & making up songs? Want to develop your songwriting talents?

Tinie Tempah and Adele had to start somewhere and this time it could be you! Join our dynamic & spontaneous songwriting & singing workshops over the Easter Holidays.  Our vibrant groups of young songwriters collaborate on writing & producing an original song across two afternoons with a performance at the end.

We develop participants creative lyric writing skills, improvisation of melodies, harmonies and rhythm skills, and composition of instrumental parts/riffs and solos.  Participants choose the style of music – rock, country, jazz, pop, rhythm & blues, hip hop, urban, latin, electronic, folk or a new mixture. Those that play an instrument can bring it along and those that don’t can focus on creating the vocal harmonies.

8-11 years old workshops:  6&7 April and/or 13&14 April, 2-5pm at The Holy Trinity Church, Brook Green, Hammersmith W6 7BL

12-16 years old workshops: 7&8 April, 2-5pm at Bush Studios, Shepherds Bush, W12 7JD *a new programme adding the experience of producing an original song in an iconic recording studio!

Hurray to book a place/s as limited places available.

“Lets their musical and creative side run free” – Jo, Mother
“It’s awesome creating a song from scratch with professional songwriters!” – Amy, 14 years old

#nottobemissed #creativity #fun #bestholidayworkshop

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Song Academy to perform at Wembley in VIAM06

11 talented young singer songwriters from Song Academy write an original song to perform at the Voice In A Million Wembley Concert on 2nd March 2016

Eleven talented singer songwriters from Song Academy, aged between 12 and 16 have written a song to have it’s premiere performance at the “Voice In A Million” (VIAM) concert, entitled ‘Right To Be Loved’. VIAM is a promoter of school/singing events with the ambition to positively change the perception of Adoption and Fostering both in the UK and worldwide.

RTBL CoverThrough the power of songwriting and music, these 11 Song Academy young songwriters aim to remind the world that everyone has a right to be loved, has a right to belong and a right to a brighter future. Their aim is to raise awareness of the large number of vulnerable children in care and the difference that adoption and fostering makes in the world, for both child and parent.

The idea for ‘Right To Be Loved’ was sparked during a meeting between Rowena Atkins, Director of Song Academy and Jo Garofalo, founder of Voice In A Million. They were talking about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition and giving one of the winner’s the opportunity to perform at the VIAM show. It was a natural step to utilise the talents of Song Academy members to write an original song on the topic of children, adoption & fostering so helping the VIAM mission.

Founder and CEO of Song Academy, Rowena Atkins said “It was a perfect fit – young children writing about the plight of young people in care whilst also making their song relevant to older children and parents adopting – reminding the world that everyone has a right to be loved and a right to be a part of a loving family unit. I’m incredibly proud of ‘Right To Be Loved’ and hope it rocks the world.”

Founders of VIAM, Jo & Robert Garofalo said “We are delighted to welcome Song Academy to Voice In A Million this year, our mission includes giving talented youngsters the opportunity to shine on world class stages.  Song Academy’s ‘Right To Be Loved’ is in perfect harmony with VIAM’s ethos.”

The premiere performance of ‘Right To Be Loved’ will be at the Voice In A Million show at Wembley Arena on 2nd March 2016. Right to be loved was produced at Studio Rokstone – home of ASCAP award winning songwriter and chart producer Steve Mac. The producers were Tim Laws, ASCAP award winning songwriter and record producer, Pete Craigie, engineer, arranger, mixer and live production and Diane Allison Young DAYTime Entertainment.

* ‘Right To Be Loved’ can now be purchased on iTunes, Spotify and other online distributors 

VIAM-2015

Young songwriters of ‘Right To Be Loved’

Lilah Atkins, Ginevra Benedetti, Ella Bleakley, Max Elliott, Roman Lewis, Claudia Namor, Gilska Weerakkody, Emma Whiley, India Whitehurst, Spencer Winningham, David Zazo

Producers of ‘Right To Be Loved’

Tim Laws ASCAP award winning songwriter and record producer

Recent credits – Bellowhead, Seth Lakeman, Rubylux, Sharon Corr, Peter Aristone & Mel C, Roachford, Scarlette, Clare Grogan’s Altered Images, Pauline Black’s Selecter  with DAYTime Entertainment

Discography collaborations – Lighthouse  Family, Gabrielle, Steve Wonder, INXS, Daryl Hall, Sugababes, Will Young

Pete Craigie engineer, arranger, mixer and live production

Recent credits – Bellowhead, Seth Lakeman, Rubylux, Sharon Corr, Peter Aristone & Mel C, Roachford, Scarlette, Clare Grogan’s Altered Images, Pauline Black’s Selecter with DAYTime Entertainment

Discography collaborations – Gabrielle, Pet Shop Boys, Alicia Keys, Sugababes, Shirley Bassey, Pavarotti, Simply Red

Diane Allison Young, DAYTime Entertainment

5 Songs to listen to and why…

This week we are going to talk about 5 great songs not be missed!

I could have chosen some glorious, old tunes that everybody knows, which became famous because they were played by a great band or became a successful film soundtrack, but that would have been quite predictable and perhaps boring. 
Instead I decided to pick 5 songs that many people may not know but that are interesting in many ways. You may also not usually listen to these music genres, but you’ll surely learn something new as you listen to them.


1) “Homesick” – Kings Of Convenience

This tune is an interesting blend of pop, indie and bossa nova, which is a kind of jazz music from Brazil and can be found in the rhythmic figure played by the guitar all throughout the song. And what is incredible is that this music duo comes from Norway, which is miles away from South America both geographically and culturally speaking!
Something you’ll notice during the very first minute of listening is that the two musicians sing different melody lines at the same time, but those lines sound incredibly nice together. That is what we call “harmonies”. Perhaps the Kings took inspiration by Simon & Garfunkel, who used to perform in the same way (check out their song “The Sound Of Silence” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zLfCnGVeL4 )


2) “Letter From Home” – Pat Metheny

Who said instrumentals can’t be communicative and moving? Mr. Metheny is considered one of the biggest guitarist of all times, who managed to beautifully blend jazz, fusion and world music without losing his personal style of playing, which got him 3 golden albums and 20 Grammy Awards. 
Even though the melody doesn’t seem to be too complex, the harmony and the chords underneath are a masterpiece in terms of music theory and creativity which you probably wouldn’t find in many pop or classic rock songs. That’s why I think this song is so beautiful and incredibly well-made. And it’s good to listen to something different sometimes!


3) “Blackout” – Anna Calvi

As the singer explains at the beginning of the video, the song is about an hypothetical blackout that happens while you’re alone at home and musically and lyrically describes what you would feel in that situation. I believe her introduction makes the performance even more interesting and explains very well the creative process behind the composition. 
It’s an interesting approach to music, where the author tries to picture the concept of the song not only through words but also using musical devices (major/minor keys, dynamic, effects, etc). And be honest: would you have expected such a powerful voice after having heard her quiet and shaky speaking voice? 
Singing in public has not been easy for her as she was incredibly shy and conscious of her voice, and I would recommend to have a quick read at her biography and interviews.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Calvi
http://www.theguardian.com/music/australia-culture-blog/2014/may/27/anna-calvi-i-learned-from-the-classics


4) “The Journey Man” – Iron Maiden

According to Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of the band, the song is about “the whole process of writing and being a musician”. However, they use such beautiful and evocative images to describe it and the lyrics remind me of an old Romantic poem:

“And the fragment remains of our memories
and the shadows we made with our hands
Deep grey, came to mourn
All the colours of the dawn
Will this journeyman’s day be his last?

”

Moreover, the chorus is catchy, easy to remember and perfect for the audience to sing aloud at a concert! That’s why I decided to link the live version of this tune rather than the studio version:


5) “Stop This Train” – John Mayer

Finally, a tune that is surely more popular than the others but just as inspiring. The song is about the fear of getting older, a song Peter Pan would have loved..! Every time I listen to this song I imagine being in John’s shoes, writing this song during a cold winter night, having a chat with daddy about getting older, feeling nostalgic and insecure. I think the song not only showcases John’s brilliant and inspiring songwriting, but also his superb guitar playing, which is why I decided to link the live version of this song too. Moreover, the “train” John talks about is a wonderful metaphor referring to the course of time (see my post “I can I write good lyrics?” http://www.songacademy.co.uk/can-write-good-lyrics/ ).

Melodies – why they’re important and how to create them

The melody, that famous sequence of musical tones or notes, is the most important part of any song.

Even more important than lyrics?

Yes, because what we first hear in a song is its melody rather than words. Words are important too, but the brain needs to make sense of them, we need to “think of them”, whereas notes strike us straight away in a more instinctive way. Also, melodies alone convey emotions and feelings so that often we don’t need to hear any lyrics to say a certain song is happy or sad. To the extent that philosophers in the XIX century argued instrumental music was superior to sung music…! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_music)

Moreover, we often remember songs by their melody rather than their lyrics. That’s exactly what happens to performers when they forget lyrics on stage… but they remember how the melody goes and they manage to get through the song by singing some different words!

I’ll give you an example. Below is a list of famous songs with great or simply memorable melodies. Ask somebody to play them for you on the computer or your iPod while you keep your eyes closed. You’ll realise that you recognise pretty much all of them even if you don’t know any of the lyrics, or not even the title!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeodEwM4BGE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oo4OnQpwjkc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laRyswIO_-g

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcNhDstL4-k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcBnJw-H2wQ

A good start to write good melodies is to just listen to good ones! Listen to the songs whose melodies you particularly like and get inspired. Perhaps, the melodies you’ll write at first will sound similar to those but don’t worry, that’s a natural process. The more you write, the more creative you will get.

You can also just sit at the piano and get inspired by playing few random notes on the keyboard, or by improvising over a melody you already know. Few melodies that I wrote myself originated from me making mistakes while playing a completely different song, which led to interesting combinations of notes!

Another good way to create melodies is to sing them, or whistling them, and then playing them on your instrument. That process will allow you to sing, whistle or hum a melody exactly the way you want it to be and create a sequence of note that you may have never come up with on your instrument. Remember: music comes form inside you, the instrument is just… an instrument!

How can I write good lyrics?

“How can I write good lyrics?”

The answer seems simple: write about something that inspires, touches and moves you. That’s the fundamental factor that will make things easier and allow you to write a great and heartfelt song.
But even then, how can we make sure our lyrics are not boring or predictable? After all, songwriters from all over the world have been writing songs for centuries…

A good way to achieve that is to find new ways to talk about “old stuff”.
If you’re going to talk about love, for example, you may want to find a better line than simply “I love you”, “your eyes are beautiful”, etc… John Mayer came up with “Your Body Is A Wonderland”, a sweet and interesting way to express his love towards his girlfriend. And that song won Mayer a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 2003!

A great tool available in literacy to make our lines interesting is figures of speech, which is “figurative language in the form of a single word or phrase”. It usually takes longer to explain them than giving few examples, so here are a few of them that I like to use.

One of my favourite figure of speech is the metaphor. Do you remember from school what a simile is? Something like “You’re beautiful like a flower”? Right, the metaphor is the same thing but does not use “like” or “as”.  In this case, it would be “You’re a flower”.
An example may be “Love is a razor and I walked the line on that silver blade” from “The Evil That Men Do” by Iron Maiden. What better way to say that love hurts and the main character of the song is heartbroken?

Another popular figure of speech is the oxymoron, which puts together two contradictory elements, like Simon & Garfunkel’s famous song “The Sound Of Silence”. How can silence make any sound??

The number of figures of speech available to us songwriters is huge. Just have a look at some of them and get inspired: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Figure_of_speech
You may also find unusual and clever images to describe a specific situation or topic.Take “Hide And Seek” by Imogen Heap for example. Take the line that goes “The dust has only just begun to fall, crop circles in the carpet, sinking, feeling”. I remember my songwriting teacher saying that line refers to when Imogen broke up with her boyfriend, who then moved out from the house they used to live in. Those circles are the marks left by the furniture, which prevented the dust from falling on some portions of the floor. Now the furniture has been taken away and those circles are visible on the floor, which tells us somebody has moved out. WOW!

Good songs often picture images that strike people’s imagination.
Think of Mayer’s “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room”, which gives a strong and vivid idea of what the relationship between the author and her girlfriend feels like.

And what about Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”?”We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl”… That line always made my imagination take over!

Let’s keep in mind that all these devices are just “spices” that you want to put on top of “good food”, that is a good story that moves you, to make it “tastier”. If the food is “bad”, as in if you don’t feel inspired or don’t know what to write about, just take the time to listen to and get inspired by a great song like the following, where all the elements we’ve seen today have been used:

Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah (originally written by Leonard Cohen)

Jolie Holland

image
Jolie Holland is my favourite singer and musician of all time. I am delighted to be able to write about her music and even more delighted to have had the opportunity to play with her a few months ago. I can honestly say that’s it’s not true that you should never meet your heroes.

Jolie Holland was born in Houston Texas. She combines elements of folk, traditional, country, rock and jazz and was one of the founding members of the Gorgeous all female folk alt country group, The Be Good Tanyas. She is a multi instrumentalist, playing a staggering number of instruments mainly the guitar but also piano, banjo and fiddle.

I was introduced to her second album Escondida in my final year of university and I think little else returned to my CD player. If ever, I am to recommend a new album, I would always start with Escondida. You must buy it. Right now.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=escondida+jolie+holland&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-gb&client=safari#imgrc=HKB9mXbOO7ctQM%3A

The first thing that strikes one about Jolie Holland is her incredible and distinctive voice. It’s unlike any other voice I have heard and can sound quite harsh at times whilst stunningly warble as well as strong and rammed with emotion. It’s rather difficult to describe without doing her an injustice. It’s an addictive sound.
Another wonderful thing about her music is the way that she plays with melody. Especially in the first track on the album ‘Sascha’. The melody dances over the music and sounds like it’s from another era.
One of her most popular songs ‘Old fashioned morphine’ has a most wonderful brass and muted trumpet section! It’s no wonder to see why the likes of Tom Waits is a fan of her work.