Songwriting Workshop at the Sydney Conservatorium

Giving and receiving meaningful feedback on your creative work is probably the single most important thing to actually developing your practice and seeing your work improve.

Psychologist Anders Ericsson, who famously inspired the idea of the ’10 thousand hours rule’ for developing expert performance level at anything, cites ‘meaningful, specific, and detailed feedback’ as one of the most critical aspects to moving beyond the plateau that most people stop at in their creative practice.

In that spirit, the Songwriting Workshop that I teach at the Sydney Conservatorium Open Academy is centred around the combination of weekly projects that fine-tune specific aspects of the songwriting process, with detailed and personal feedback on song projects throughout the term. The next term starts October 14. You can find more information here, and here:

Hope to see you there!

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Ask a Songwriter #01: How do you write about the ‘extinction of species’?

Episode #1

“How do you write about a broad concept like “the extinction of species”?

Doris Folkens, Ontario, Canada

How do you get the songwriting process happening when you want to write about a broad concept like “the extinction of species”_Click below to access a free downloadable PDF of this lesson! It contains the information summarized, key writing exercises, and song examples.

How do you get the songwriting process happening when you want to write about a broad concept like “the extinction of species”_

Ryan Adams: Let Your Ego Come Out to Play

I love this video of Ryan Adams revealing his daily songwriting method, that he calls ‘Stacks’. It basically involves taking one reference book (like the Roget’s International Thesaurus) on one side, and another random book—a novel perhaps—on the other side. Open each to a random page. Scan the page of the novel until a line or image catches your attention, then use it to create a version of that image. Go to your second book. Scan the page until you find a word or image that pops out at you…keep going, and fill in the blanks.

Adams says:

“Inside of me is some piece of information that is relevant. It’s relevant because I’m alive and because there’s electricity in my brain and I’ve seen things all day. But maybe they have’t become this beacon for me yet of something ideal. But if I scan information I’ll find what that is…like Madlibs, the ego will always come out to play if you can get the Id to tell it to…I just created this thing for myself based on this information that I chose that’s already relevant to me because instantly it reminds of someone…; and it will force me to fill in the blanks.”

It’s a beautiful approach that trusts in your own experience to join the dots.