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journal communit ommunity the journal of community music

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Helping community musicians get better at what they do VOLUNTEERS Delivering benefits for your organisation

ISSN 1464-6730

2011 ISSUE 2

Sounding Board

2011 issue 2

Sound Sense JOIN! Sound Sense


Supporting community musicians
Sound Sense supports individuals and organisations who help people make music in their communities by leading music workshops and teaching through a range of actions and services.

Current funders

Professional development and networking


At professional development events run or supported by Sound Sense held across the UK people can develop their skills and increase their knowledge. They get advice, debate practice and share experiences. And they network.

Information, advice and contacts


Sound Sense supports those running music projects for all ages and communities. Our website provides information about sources of funding for projects, advice on how to contact skilled community musicians, and gives guidance on issues such as child protection. And much more.

A partner in

Raising awareness
Community music work can help address many of the big issues facing society. Sound Sense plays a key role in reporting on projects that deal with major issues. Our research reports, information packs and journals, and advocacy activities enable those working in community development, regeneration, health, and education to see the benefits of community music in their field of work. Meetings with government ministers and civil servants ensure we keep community music on the agenda of national politics.

Membership
Sound Sense members get even more benefits, including Free public liability insurance Weve got members covered! Free advertising of community musicians services To thousands of people every month Exclusive information on jobs and funding Members can get ahead of the competition Free journals Including Sounding Board for the latest debates Individual information and advice Supporting community musicians Discounts on professional development events Saving money Access to criminal records checks Helping community musicians stay safe National recognition A respected voice for community music work. For details of how to get the benefits of Sound Sense membership E: membership@soundsense.org or W: www.soundsense.org

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2011 issue 2

WORK EXPOSED

songwriting Teaching songwriting


DAN WHITEHOUSE describes how he works with other songwriters. Its all about learning the benefits of the creative process

s music leaders and creators we know the benefits of the music making process. From the thrills and spills of exploration with a new song idea or riff, to the running to the hills escapism of writing. I realised that I was enjoying all of this stuff and more, but not sharing it within my community so I set up the Songwriting Circle at mac, in Birmingham. The Songwriting Circle is a creative hub safe from the pressures of the commercial world. Somewhere for songwriters to develop skills, share experiences, receive feedback and feel the benefit of a support network. Its a creative haven for songwriters where in the words of Mark Vonnegut we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is. My eureka moment on the way to setting up the circle came courtesy of Tom Robinson (BBC 6 Music) when he invited me to take part in a retreat at a country house in Kent, funded by Notting Hill Publishing. Twelve songwriters met at this secluded location with limited phone signal (major benefit!) and after a warm welcome from Tom we were shown to our separate rooms for writing time. I embarked on an epic 12-hour writing journey, following the immersion method (see The

Laying it down: Dan Whitehouse, left, with songwriters Martin Fisher and Mark Stares

frustrated songwriters handbook). Throughout the day I was inspired by other members of the group, we met for lunch and played each other new ideas, we knocked on each others doors and wrote together, and when we were alone we were encouraged by the sound of another singing or playing through the walls. It was fantastic to be surrounded by like-minded souls, to feel the benefit of a support network and to form new collaborations.

At the workshop
Learning debate Structure and lyrics Are the words important or just cool sounds? Study classic song structure; arrangement, lyrics and melody Inspiration How to capture those eureka moments, cathartic, self therapy benefits, newspapers, media clips Tailor made material From protest songs to TV themes: convey a message in your songs. Supply and demand: this basic business mantra applies to many songwriters too Immersion technique A new writing method/ethos to stimulate creativity The business of songwriting Royalty collection, distribution, copyright Participatory listening party Motivation A group deadline is a collective way for everyone to keep each other on their toes Support When you are frustrated creatively it can feel like nobody can give you the kind of support you need Feedback Learn how your creations resonate with your peers Meeting people Be part of a genuine social network of potential collaborators Share knowledge and experience Speaking and listening with people allows a freedom of exchange that has inspired creativity over thousands of years

When I got home I realised I wanted more of this sort of interaction with fellow writers. The experience gave me the fuel I needed to write a proposal to mac and request their assistance. They agreed to give it a trial run of six weeks and it continues weekly. My work as a singer-songwriter and community musician has taught me the cathartic, therapeutic benefits of creative music making. At communal songwriting workshops in the community I witnessed group members inspire each other, feed off each others creativity and fuse together for great collaborations. However, there is little creative, communal music making in the wider adult community. As a songwriter with a passion for the creative process I often felt isolated. You are out there on your own: either join a choir and read the dots or (if you do insist on writing your own material) go to an open mic night at your local pub and struggle to be heard above the chatter. The internet has been great for songwriters and musicians, and I have done my best to join in and keep up with that wave of activity but emphasis is still on the end product, the beauty of the process gets overlooked in a rush to upload your latest mix/video. The benefits of the creative process get ignored in our modern capitalist society.

THEORY AND PRACTICE

2011 issue 2

Sounding Board

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All this inspiration and understanding of the importance of process has informed how the songwriting circle works. We meet for two hours every Monday evening, spending one hour in debate on a songwriting technique or method and one hour as a song circle or listening party. The two parts are complementary: learning and participating: see Box. The success of the group is thanks to a combination of positives. Participants are enthusiastic and willing to join in. All members appear to understand the purity and sacred nature of the creative process, and respect and support one another throughout. Different members contribute a wide variety of skills, genres, and influences to the group. They complement each other, encourage collaborations and inform one another, while simultaneously improving the quality of their own body of work. And I must mention Michael Clarke, who has made a great contribution as guest lecturer. The workshops help my own practice, too. The sessions fuel my passion for music creation. And they complement my music in education work, I revel in the peer to peer learning opportunity. It spurs me on to write more songs, and venture further with my own creativity; I love the art form of the pop song, I think its the best way for me to express myself. At first I presumed the course would be another one-off gig, but it continues to grow. I was worried I would run out of ideas to present, but the conversations and playback sessions always highlight uncharted territories.

Reprin int from Sounding Reprinted from Sounding oard B oard 2011 issue 2 Sound Sense Dan Sound Sense / Dan Whitehouse hitehouse

l nks
Dan Whitehouse E: dan@danwhitehouse.com W: www.danwhitehouse.com To hear songs written by members of the circle W: http://
soundcloud.com/ songwritingcircle (all tracks

are set to private but if you follow us I will invite you to listen) The frustrated songwriters handbook Karl Coryat and Nicholas Dobson. Backbeat Books 2006 If I grow old Dan Whitehouse (feat. Soap Company) Remix W: http://
open.spotify.com/track/ 4EnREyRkTBazF9BVp43Lhz