Finding Your Voice

Singing Lessons, Workshops and Therapy.

I wrote a song last week. I am a songwriter, so this is nothing too surprising, and yet, it is surprising to me how much time can pass between writing songs if I don’t make a conscious effort. I feel like I am always juggling – every project seems as important as every other one, and my gaze and focus is constantly flitting from one to another. Songwriting doesn’t like flitting. It needs a period of time where I mentally say “I am all yours, I give myself over to being immersed in ideas, and images, and structures and sounds. I will midwife you through the processes needed to shape this idea into a song.” It can sometimes be quick, but sometimes not, and the rest of the world disappears.

The occasion of this song was participating in some of the activities I set for my students in the intensive songwriting course I just finished teaching. My students tend to be amazed at what they produce “I didn’t know I could do that” they will often say, yet they all do walk away with at least one completed song; sometimes 2 or 3, and usually the beginnings of many more. They begin with some raw material and we work together to help the song find its shape and following one through to completion. I feel share their joy, I feel pride in watching their music take shape. I try to take advantage of the opportunity to reinvigorate my own writing.

Graduation Day for Songwriters

Graduation Day for Songwriters

Actually there were two exercises involved in this one – one was a language exercise. Students were told to go on a 10 minute walk and find something they wouldn’t usually notice. We then did a timed writing exercise from which we tried to extract some seeds of ideas for lyrics. I wrote about the beautiful black and orange feather found by a student – stripes reminiscent of a tiger. The other exercise was one in which a relatively random sequence of pitches needed to be shaped into a melody – this gave me my chorus melody. My song is called Tiger Bird.

Nature-treasures for songwriting inspiration.

Nature-treasures for songwriting inspiration.

Next week my own songwriting group meets. And it will be my turn to choose which feedback to take on board, and which feedback to decide is relevant for the giver, but not right for my vision for my song. Tiger Bird may or may not make it onto stage for performance, or onto a recording, but it feels good to be engaging in the writing process, and to have written this particular perception of my world. As singer songwriter Kristina Olsen once said to me, and I now say to my own students, every song you write gives you practice which will help with the next song. You never know which one will be the diamond, and you never know which one will be the one others like or love. They may or may not be the same song.

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Raelene lives in Perth, Australia. She tours & is available for festivals, workshops, & country & interstate events.
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