bulletin for the Los Angeles area Workshop
by Seth Jackson
Time is the most precious of all commodities. We each have 24
hours in a day, and no amount of work, creativity, or bargaining can buy
us any more.
Although many of us may view songwriting as a priority, the reality
is that it doesn’t pay the bills for most of us. (Not yet, anyway!)
With all that we have going on in our lives, it can be a challenge to find
time for our songwriting.
If you have all the time you need for songwriting, congratulations!
Read no more! If you’re frustrated that there never seems to be enough
time, the next step is to ask yourself why not?
How we spend our time is partially a matter of necessity and
partly a matter of choice. Sleeping, eating, and paying bills are necessities.
Unless we have some other source of financial support, working is a necessity.
Some of us have family obligations.
If the combination of these things leaves no time to write, then perhaps
there are ways you can use time more efficiently. For example, carry a
small tape recorder with you and record song ideas while driving to and
from work. If you can’t block off three hours at once for songwriting,
perhaps you can set aside ten or twenty minutes during the day to write
It may be that the time is available, but we choose not to take
advantage of it. One reason for this might be that we feel uninspired,
or that we have nothing to write about.
In this case, searching for inspiration becomes important. Sometimes,
we can find inspiration simply by forcing ourselves to sit down with our
instrument or a notebook and start writing. Other times, an activity reading
a good book or seeing a good movie can stimulate creativity, as long as
we’re careful not to choose these activities as a means of procrastination.
Fear of failure can be a powerful motivator for putting off writing
songs. If you find that this is the case, it might be best to block off
a fixed amount of time to sit down with a notebook and write. A good exercise
is to time yourself for ten minutes, during which you must keep the pen
moving on the paper. No matter what, don’t let the pen stop, even if you
end up writing “I can’t think of anything” over and over again.
Often, just having the pen moving opens up a path to the creative right
brain. The more we open ourselves up to the opportunity, the better chance
we have of writing something good.
March-April '00 Workshop Schedule
Thursday, March 9, 7:30-10:30pm - Songwriter Lineup at Hallenbeck’s
General Store, 5510 N. Cahuenga Blvd., N. Hollywood. Featured
writer is Emmy Award winner Stan Bush. Performing in the round are Ray
Doyle, Kevin Fisher, Jim Grey, Warren Sellars, John Stowers, and Susan
Toney. Evening concludes an open mic, with signup on a first come-first
Sunday, March 26, 4-7pm at Musician’s Institute, Vocal Performance
Workshop with Guest Speaker Jan Garrett. Explore and develop
your physical voice and your creative artistic voice. This workshop is
for both the professional musician and for those who think they can’t carry
a tune. Jan Garrett, a musician, singer, and songwriter, has recorded and
toured with John Denver, Steve Martin, and the Dirt Band, and has appeared
on The Tonight Show and in Rolling Stone’s Who’s Who in Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Thursday, April 13, 7:30-10:30pm - Songwriter Lineup at Hallenbeck’s.
Featuring hit singer/songwriter duo Lowen and Nevarro. Performing
in the round are Dan Nahmod, Zan Overall, Lisa Thornton, William Ward,
and two others TBA. With special guest hosts Cathy Carlson and Clive Kennedy.
Sunday, April 16, 4-7pm at Musician’s Institute - Mini-Song Camp.
It’s time to get creative as we learn and practice techniques to help us
write better, more commercial songs.
Sunday, April 30, 4-7pm at Musician’s Institute - Group Song Critiques.
Critiquing songs and having our songs critiqued is one of the most valuable
ways to improve our current and future work. Receiving critiques helps
us to understand how our songs are coming across to impartial listeners.
Giving feedback to others helps us develop the skill to better refine our
own songs. Bring one song to perform live or on cassette, plus 20
copies of your lyric sheet. Lyrics can also be critiqued.
Unless otherwise noted, workshops are held from 4-7p.m. at Musician's
Institute, 1655 McCadden Place, just off Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood.
Admission is free for NSAI members,
$10 for non-members. For more information, call Craig Lackey at (310)319-9454
or email Seth Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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