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

 

Young Songwriter 2016 Showcase Highlights Video

We had an incredible afternoon at Westfield London in June this year showcasing the top young songwriting talent from across the UK and Ireland.  36 young songwriters performed their original songs to a big crowd.  Plus it was fabulous to have a special performance from the amazing singer songwriter Rumer.

We were part of the Hammersmith & Fulham ArtsFest programme with Westfield London celebrating the Queen’s 50th anniversary.  The British weather was spectacular with torrential downpours right at the end of our showcase!

Please have a look at our Young Songwriter 2016 showcase highlights video.

Congratulations to Gus Harrower, winner of our 13-18 year old category who has gus-low-resbeen chosen to perform his winning song ‘Wanderin’ Man’ at the  Voice In A Million 2018 show at Wembley Arena.

Get ready for the Song Academy Young Songwriter 2017 competition, open for entries on 1st February 2017!  You can make sure your songs are the best they can be by taking advantage of our expert song feedback service.

 

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

Home Recording

This term at Song Academy Winchester, we have begun recording the students’ songs and some asked me about setting up their own recording system at home. There are so many ways of doing this, we all make use of recording and song writing apps but this technology is still relatively new and there is still no better method than using a proper, good quality microphone and making use of one of the various recording programmes available.

Microphone choice

A professional studio often has a great collection of microphones for recording drums, guitars and vocals etc. These microphones can cost thousands of pounds, but all you need to record at home is one microphone. A large condenser microphone, such as SE200 or AT4033 are perfect for recording vocals and instruments and are not prohibitively expensive, costing as little as £40.

This is what the microphones tend to look like, the circular thing in front is known as a pop-shield. This is also a useful piece of equipment as it stops hard sounds such as ‘P’s or ‘K’s from spoiling your recordings. These can be made from things around the house. Why not try twisting a wire coat hanger into a circle and stretching a pair of tights over it (making sure you ask permission first from whoever’s tights and hanger it is).

Audio interface choice

To record successfully on a computer or Ipad it is necessary to get a good audio interface or soundcard. Most computers do not come ready to record music, unless you have had one specifically made. So you need to use an external interface/mixer so you can plug your microphone or instrument into your computer, and control its volume, and allow it to connect to the recording software. Ipads now have several interfaces such as the IRig, which allows you to plug microphones and instruments into an Ipad and use it with various apps including Garage Band, which is one of the most easily used recording software applications. For computers or laptops Focusrite and RME are both highly recommended and affordable. There are interfaces with different numbers of channels to record through, so my recommendation would be to start with a two channel or one channel interface such as Apogee’s One, which also has a built in microphone.

Software choice

There are a number of popular recording software programmes. I use ProTools predominantly, which is the industry standard for live music recording. However, there are some excellent software packages that allow you to not only record your own live sound, but also program drums and other instruments included in the software. ProLogicX and GarageBand are particularly good for this. Cubase, Cakewalk and Reason are also great programmes for live and synthesized sound.

Room choice

Depending on space, there are some things to consider when choosing where to set up your home studio. If you have an unused garden shed or out building, this can be perfect, and wooden walls, which can be quite resonant can be dampened by material on the walls, If you are recording in your house, make sure your are not too near a street or in a room with a boiler or anything which may make excessive noise.

You would be surprised how many songs were recorded in ‘home studios’, and it has never been easier to record anywhere, anytime, so why not have a go!

 

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/ ).

Performance highlights and winners from Brits 2015

In case you missed it, here is the best of the Brits 2015…

Madonna – Living for Love

Everyone is talking about that notorious tumble, but what was most impressive is that Madonna didn’t even miss a whole verse and carried on singing to give what was the best performance of the night. The show must go on!

Ed Sheeran – Bloodstream

Ed shows what you can achieve with just a guitar and a great song (and one helluva loop station!)

Sam Smith – Lay Me Down 

Sam Smith delivers a note perfect performance of his moving ballad.

 The winners

It’s easy to get caught up in the glamour, selfies and gossip of the ceremony. But don’t forget that the Brits were established to celebrate the musical talent of the UK and beyond. So here’s the complete list of winners – well done to all of them!

British Artist Video of the Year: One Direction, You and I

British Breakthrough Act: Sam Smith

Mastercard British Album: Ed Sheeran, X

British Female Solo Artist: Paloma Faith

British Male Solo Artist: Ed Sheeran

British Group: Royal Blood

International Male Solo Artist: Pharrell Williams

International Female Solo Artist: Taylor Swift

International Group: Foo Fighters

Critics’ Choice Awards: James Bay

British Producer: Paul Epworth

British Single: Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars, Uptown Funk

British Global Success Award: Sam Smith

 

Now onto the main event of the UK music calendar #SAYS15! With a panel of judges that have a glittering array of Brits and Grammys between them, make sure you get your entry in to be in with a chance of winning! Here’s to the next generation of Brit winners…

Musical Musings of a Songwriter

Ah, my first blog, *gives one’s self a pat on the back*. For those of you who are reading and don’t know me, I’m Rebecca Devereux: a newbie to the wonderful team at Song Academy. I started in January, assisting at Tuesday’s school in Chelsea, and despite having written and studied song-writing from an early age, I feel I’ve learnt more in the last few weeks about what it takes to be a great songwriter than ever before. Over the next few weeks, I hope to record my findings and explore this creative practice through a series of blogs and interviews with current artists and songwriters in the industry; but first, I thought it might be interesting to explore my own process…

11.25 p.m. Jan 20th, 2015.

I can’t sleep. I sit staring at a blank page in my old, tatty ‘musical musings’ notepad. A brand new inky pen is perched neatly next to it and 88 untouched piano keys glare back at me. You see, song-writing has always been a therapeutic process for me. I had practically filled my tatty ‘musical musings’ notepad during my first term at university, in the midst of dealing with homesickness and many nights of disrupted sleep. Instead of lying in bed and allowing my mind to race, I would sit beside my Yamaha keyboard and scribble my thoughts into a miraculously organised poetical form. A melody would surface just as quickly as the lyrics had tumbled from my busy brain onto the blank page. In what seemed like no time at all, a new song had been born. My mind would begin to settle and I would very often fall asleep on the keys that were responsible for lulling me, very quickly, back to normality.

I always found it funny, if unsurprising, that my most inspired moments and creative ‘splurges’ often occurred at my most difficult times. Emotionally fuelled events in my day-to-day life were often followed by a mad rush to find my nearest piano, paper, pen and recording device. On reflection, I must have known the lyrical content of my songs would relate to a listening audience—I was not the first to face these life troubles and I certainly wouldn’t be the last—yet they were rarely, if ever, publicly performed. It felt like the equivalent of reciting my personal diary to a room full of strangers, it just didn’t feel right. I was scared of being judged. I felt as vulnerable as an insect under a giant magnifying glass.

Eager to perform and test my wavering nerves, I began practising song-writing with stricter boundaries and make-believe content. Instead of writing songs that struck a personal chord, I would create fictional characters, fictional lives, fictional highs and fictional lows. A blues song about a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage. A folk song about a sparrow who struggles to take its first flight. A jazz tune about the man who lives on the moon and, most recently, an acoustic tune about a Tyrannosaurus rex who plays a ukulele… seriously. It certainly made it a lot easier for me to perform, knowing that I wasn’t inviting people in to peek inside the story of my life, but in terms of my connection with the audience, I felt that something was missing. I felt like I had lost a bond of some sort, a trust, a sincerity.

12.04am. Jan 20th, 2015.

I look down at my notepad. Still empty. The unused pen is looking rather sorry for itself now. I think back to my first few sessions assisting at the academy: the freedom of the children’s writing, and their natural ability to balance their own life experiences, likes and dislikes with intriguing, fictional, interesting stories. Using song-writing as a form of self-expression, to a degree, seemed to be a rather instinctive process for them. Whether they write a fictional lyric, or detail a personal life event, the sincerity of their songs is reflected in the imagery and melodic and harmonic content that seems most natural to them. I’m so proud to be mentoring these young creative minds, and feel as though I am learning just as much from them as they are from me. Suddenly, I find myself scribbling and the empty page is soon full. Personal stories and symbolic imagery weave together like colourful tapestry. A new song is born, and now it’s time to sleep…

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Top Tips for Recording Your Songs at Home

What makes the Song Academy Young Songwriter Competition unique is that it is judged purely on the song. You don’t need to hire an expensive recording studio or buy the latest recording technology to make it into the judges’ final ten. But even though sound quality isn’t part of the judging process, you still want to get the best recording you can, to give your song the chance to shine.

So now that you’ve written your smash hit, now what? Here our some hints and tips for getting the most out of your recording.

Emile Sande in the studio

1)   What can I record with?

At the most basic level – you can use that magical everyday piece of technology we all carry in our pocket: your phone. Most smartphones these days have a great recording facility within the phone itself.

If you can get your hands on one, a microphone will give you much better sound quality. Your school might allow you to borrow one – an SM58 microphone can be a good basic microphone and they are often used for school concerts or assemblies.

2)   Where can I record?

Make sure your recording environment is a quiet space away from any loud noises (sirens, brothers and sisters…) Experiment with recording in different spaces – try the bathroom for a cool echoey acoustic, or the bedroom for a crisp, dry sound

(Top tip: hanging a duvet on the wall where you are recording can improve the sound)

3) Get the most from your mic

Use a microphone stand!  This means you can angle the microphone better and it prevents any rustling. If using your phone consider getting a phone tripod-stand or holder to keep it steady.

Once you have your mic set up – angle it towards where you want to record the sound – remember if using a phone the microphone will be at the bottom. For a guitar, point the mic towards the point where the guitar neck joins the body. For vocals, don’t sing too close to the microphone, try about 4cm away.

(Top tip: A pop shield prevents ‘popping sounds’ when recording singing – you can make one out of an old coat hanger and tights and it dramatically improves your vocal recording)

4)   Record one part at a time

Try recording one part at a time, first the guitar or piano, then the vocals as a separate track recorded into your computer using Garageband or something similar. Once you have recorded the instrumental part, then create a separate audio track to record the vocals over the top. This technique will get the most out of each instrument and allow you to give the best vocal performance.

Once you’re done…you can upload your song to AudioBoom and enter the #SAYS15 competition. Good luck!