The NSAI bulletin for the Los Angeles area Workshop

March-April 2001

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By Seth Jackson

There’s a popular belief among a lot of songwriters that songwriting can’t be taught. My own experience tells me that,with study and practice, songwriting skills can be learned with dramatic results. Eight years ago, I would go to pitch sessions at the Los Angeles Songwriter Showcase and NAS. Week after week, I would experience both jealousy and indignant anger as my “brilliant” songs were passed on again and again, while I watched certain other writers get their songs picked up on a regular basis.

Determined to change that, I joined NAS, NSAI, and SGA, and I began attending every songwriting workshop and seminar I could make it to. I became a regular at Pete Luboff’s Monday night workshops at NAS as well as NSAI’s Sunday workshops.  I went to NSAI Song Camp 101 and 201 in Nashville plus the annual NSAI Symposium.  Several years ago, the Songwriters Hall of Fame offered a twice-weekly workshop, and I was a regular at those.  I attended Jai Josefs’ songwriting class, and I attended Phil Swann’s Country Songwriting workshops at the Songwriter’s Guild.

Gradually, some songs of mine started getting picked up, with the “success rate” improving over time. Songs started getting recorded on independent labels.  Now, when I go to pitch sessions, songs get picked up as often as not. When I hear songs submitted by other writers, I can usually guess which ones will get taken and which ones won’t.  I’ve not only improved my songwriting, I’ve learned to recognize what makes songs work and what doesn’t.

Learning about songwriting never stops.  The songs I’m writing this year are better than the ones I wrote five years ago. We have little control over the music business, but we do have control over our own learning and improvement. The satisifaction of writing better and better songs is its own reward.

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March-April '01 Workshop Schedule

Workshop Location
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
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Saturday, March 24 and 31, Songwriting Seminar Doubleheader with Jason Blume and Craig Carothers. See workshop schedule for information. Register for both seminars in advance and receive a discount price of $60 for NSAI members, $80 for non-members.

Saturday, March 31, Hit Songwriter Concert, 8:00-10:00pm at Hallenbeck’s General Store, 5510 N. Cahuenga Ave., N. Hollywood. Featuring Craig Carothers, Randy Sharp, Phil Swann. Admission $10.

 Jai Josefs, author of "Writing Music for Hit Songs" is starting a new 8 week songwriting seminar at the SGA Thursday evenings starting April 26th. For information email: or call Aaron at the SGA, (323)462-1108.

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Seth Jackson

Seth Jackson
Craig Lackey

Cathy Carlson

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