A 4 Week Program to Take Your Song Craft to the Next Level!
When: Each Tuesday evening beginning March 20 @ 7 PM and ending on April 10th.
Instructor: Catherine Backus
This 4-week workshop will provide tools and feedback to improve your songwriting and performance skills. From discovering what exactly makes the best songs so great, to learning to be your own editor, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’ve always wanted to write and have never been brave enough to try, or have been creating music for years, you will leave with new insight and self-confidence!
Catherine Backus (catherinethegreatmusic.com), a Tennessee native and Bedford
transplant, has over 13 years of songwriting experience, both as half of folk-duo the Skipperdees, and as a solo artist, performing under the name "Catherine the Great". She is also a board-certified music therapist, and often uses her songwriting skills in clinical applications.
Catherine is a 2017 winner of the Merlefest Chris Austin Songwriting Contest, which boasts such notable alumni as Gillian Welch and Tift Merritt. She is also the winner of several local competitions, including Lyrics on the Lake and Smith Mountain Lake Idol, and was featured on the NPR Music Blog for her entry in the 2017 Tiny Desk Contest.
SCHEDULE AND SYLLABUS
Week 1- What Makes a Good Song?
In this workshop we will:
Analyze famous songs, and cover elements like
How Much is Too much? The value of editing
EXAMPLES: (Selected famous folk, country, pop, rock, blues, and hip hop- analyze commonalities across genres and specific elements that make something a “hit”)
Homework: Pick your favorite song. Tell us what makes it good.
Week 2- Fake it ‘Til You Make It
In this workshop we will cover:
Musical Idioms- what makes a certain style sound like a certain style? What things should you include if you want to write a country/folk/pop/rock song, etc. What might you use in the studio?
Know your influences. It ain’t bad to copy people you respect- it’s how you learn to write.
The only way to become a good songwriter is to write a lot of songs. When you listen to your favorites, what do you like about them? Pin that down- let it guide you.
Workshop existing songs, begin co-write process.
Homework: Write a “Response Song” to the song you picked last week
Week 3- Keep Your Joy
In this workshop we will dive into the WHY of creativity:
What made you want to write songs in the first place?
When it feels too much like work or stops being fun/rewarding, recenter. When in doubt, simplify.
Most folks might not know music theory or poetic devices, but they do know authenticity.
Continue critique/co-write process. Work towards final public performance.
Homework: Build a song from one line. (Fortune cookie prompt)
Week 4- How to Be a Rock Star (or at least perform without being crippled by stage fright)
In this workshop we will tackle performing and vocal/instrumental technique:
You don’t have to be the best singer in the world or the best player in the world- you have to be the best YOU, because there’s only one you.
Know your abilities and write to them- a lack of virtuosity will often make your stuff more accessible to other people. If it’s singable for you, other people will be able to jump in.
Never underestimate the importance of rhythm. If you’re playing guitar your right hand will always be more important than your left.
Homework: Prepare for our final performance!