full circle

. . .from an upward battle of struggles and emotions to a journey of healing, growth, and laughter. . .

music education

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i knew the workshop was going to start with a session called “what’s in a song”, and i thought it would be about song structure. instead, it was dan hill talking to us about his personal experiences and how his songs came to be. (shame on you if you don’t know who he is – canadian singer/songwriter who wrote a couple of hits in the 80s and has written songs for celine dion, britney spears, 98 degrees, backstreet boys, rod stewart, donny osmond, michael bolton, tina turner, tammy wynette, reba, alan jackson, etc.)

his first sentiment resonated with me immediately. he acknowledged that people don’t start writing songs to make money. he said we write songs because of something that has happened to us in our lives, such as tragedy, and sometimes it’s only after something like that when we write songs. i reflected how i, too, only started writing songs after a very emotional personal experience.

mr. hill was quite entertaining with his humour and charm. he told us many stories behind his songs, but two stand out. he said he was married to a woman who was very conservative and different from he was. one time, he had to make a music video that involved a love scene, but for anyone who knows about production, the room was full of cameramen, crew, etc., so it was far from reality. regardless, his wife had been upset about it and complained about it to all of her friends and family. this experience consequently upset dan, so he wrote a song about it. and as he was writing the song, he heard his wife talking on the phone to someone about the music video again. that turned into a lyric in the song: “i hear you on the telephone with god knows who, spilling out your heart for free.” and then he went on to play the song for us…

another was about a song he wrote when he was 22 about an older woman he was dating. he played the song to her over the phone, and she told him he was really intense. he played us the song on guitar, but i didn’t recognize it. he said the song never went anywhere until years later when he was given the opportunity to collaborate with barry mann. he gave barry his lyrics, and barry wrote the music

the main point i took away from dan was that songwriting is a fluid process, and what you start with may turn into something else. he said he read ‘the book of negroes’ (his brother is novelist lawrence hill) when it was first written, but when it was published, it was a completely different story.

during the break, i bought his own novel, “i am my father’s son” about his complex relationship with his father (human-rights activist), who passed away in 2003. he autographed it, and we chatted for a minute (he told me he liked my name… i didn’t think guys used that line anymore {chuckle}).

the workshop continued with the business side of things… revenue streams by terry o’brien from socan and music publishing by (mr) jodie ferneyhough, formerly of universal music. it was good to get the background on these topics {a better explanation than the one i got from M, lol}, even if i won’t need it.

the best part was the last session, when we listened to excerpts of over 30 of the 80+ songs submitted by workshop participants, and then the panellists gave feedback. the panellists included dan hill and andrew allen for the musician perspective and jeff winskell (virgin radio music director) and jodie ferneyhough for the commercial perspective.

i was really impressed with a lot of the songs i heard. in fact, there were a few female singer/songwriters whom i wish i had followed up with afterwards, as they were totally the type of vocalist i love and would want for my songs. about two or three songs were simply crap, but i suppose you could say that’s just my opinion, lol.

the recurring comments from the panellists were shorter intros, get to the chorus quickly, and non-abstract lyrics. so after everything i heard them say, i’m going back to the drawing board with my song to adjust it with some additional ideas {i can hear M think ‘i told you so’}.

Author: elle superstar

I had four cats - now I have six but still no one to talk to, LOL. So, I write this blog to entertain me, myself, and I... and perhaps you.

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