Our Young Songwriter 2018 competition is open for entries until the 8th April.

If your pupils are new to songwriting here are a few top tips to be heard above the noise…

  1. Pick an interesting title
    Even if you are talking about a mundane, everyday occasion or feeling, make it interesting. Compare a heartbeat to a flashing light or the feeling of losing fear by roaring it away – the more inventive the concept around the ordinary, the better. Think of recent hits Dark Horse, Wrecking Ball, Pompeii – interesting titles and concepts talking about everyday feelings to do with fear, love and empowerment.
  2. Make the first four lines agree with your title
    The great songwriter Ralph Murphy says it very well in his books on the laws of songwriting – if the first four lines of your first verse can link back to your title then you’re onto a winner. Take for example Roar:

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly
Agreed politely
.. Now you’re gonna hear me roar

You create an expectation, and then you fulfil it. By doing this, you never lose sight of the message of your song, you keep in mind what you’re trying to say by always referring back to the title, thus never losing your listeners’ attention or the concept you’re expressing in your song.

  1. Playing around with a major or minor scale for new melodies
    Everyone know the monotonous sound of a scale being practised up and down and up and down – but if you’re stuck for melodies, why not try and take notes out of the scale and use those to bounce ideas off?

For example, if we take the c major scale of CDEFGABC, why not try picking out certain notes and changing the order; CDGCDFCB.  Play around with different combinations until your find the melody you’re looking for? You can choose any scale you like in major or minor.

  1. Hooks
    It has been said that the most successful ABBA songs have 5 hooks in each of their songs. A hook is a musical idea, melodic instrumental part, rhythmic phrase or a vowel/consonant sound or word repeated, that catches the ear of the listener to draw them into the song and helps to create its ‘catchiness’. According to popular commercial music today, the more hooks you can introduce throughout the song, the catchier it will be, because it’s constantly enticing the listener and, most importantly, keeping them interested. Listen to the start of Dancing Queen and the vocal ahhs and piano part before the hooky first line of the chorus, or Jessie J’s Price Tag (It’s all about the money, money, money/We don’t need your money, money, money) and try and think about hooks for your own song, either lyrically, repeating the main message of the song (e.g. Roar or Burn) or melodically, on an instrument or vocal oohs or aahs.
  2. Detail
    If you are listening to a song and the singer sings

You wore that shirt
In spring
In the sunshine

that’s all well and good. But if they were to add a bit more detail, you’d instantly have a much clearer vision of the setting which the singer is remembering and sharing with you, the listener:

You wore that dark blue shirt
On April 5th
In the warm spring sunshine

Instantly, there is context, there is detail, there is a picture in your mind and you can see what you are hearing. Imagery in songs is hugely powerful because once there is a description being sung to you, you can imagine it and therefore feel more involved in the song itself. And that’s what songs do, they connect people, they provide solace for people to know that they are not the only ones who feel or think a certain way, and all of these emotions and thoughts are translated to the masses by the medium of songwriting.

So to sum up, our top tips for writing hits are – create an interesting title, make the first four lines agree with your title, play around with your melodies, create hooks and get descriptive!  Have a play and we’re looking forward to listening to your pupils’ songs.  Enter our Young Songwriter 2018 competition before the 8th April.

Calling creative lyricists, singers & musicians!

Join our vibrant groups of young songwriters and collaborate on writing, composing, producing & recording an original song from scratch with a performance at the end! For 8-11 yr olds and 12-16 yr olds. Unleash their creativity & develop their musicality with professional songwriters.

Songwriting workshops in West London, Winchester and Emsworth.  Check out the dates and book soon to guarantee a place.

“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
“Incredible value – building important life skills as well as writing fantastic songs!” Tanya, Mother

More info and entry form to book places

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

 

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.

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.

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.

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

young songwriters workshopIMG_2281older songwriters workshop2older songwriters workshop

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

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?” https://www.songacademy.co.uk/can-write-good-lyrics/ ).

Study something you love:

For example; take one of your favourite songs and look at how it has been written.

Eg: what is the rhyme scheme?

Are there other devices being used (and how)? Alliteration, metaphors etc

Then copy the structure and write on a topic of your choosing, anything you like, but sticking to the structure from your favourite song!

Line swap:

Sometimes you already have all the material that you need, you may just need to rearrange it!

For example switching lines 2 and 3, or deciding to use what you had written for the chorus and as a verse.

Some examples of great lyrics to check out:

And the smell of the smoke and the lay of the land

and the feeling of finding one’s heart in one’s hand

From ‘On the 4th of July’ by James Taylor

You were the one who said forever from the start

And I’ve been drifting since you’ve gone

Out on a lonely sea that only you can chart

I’ve been going on, knowing that my heart will break,

With ev’ry breath I take.

From ‘With every breath I take’ lyric by David Zippel

We were married on a rainy day

The sky was yellow, and the grass was grey

We signed the papers and we drove away

I do it for your love

From ‘I do it for your love’ by Paul Simon

All the things I thought I’d be

All the brave things I’ve done

Vanish like a snowflake with the rising of the sun

From ‘I will go sailing no more’ by Randy Newman

But it don’t snow here, stays pretty green

I’m gonna make a lot of money and then I’m gonna quit this crazy scene.

From ‘River’ by Joni Mitchell