Posts Tagged ‘SAW’

How Fast Do You Write?

July 7, 2012

I’ve heard lots of songwriter anecdotes about the song that took ten minutes to write. Everybody seems to have one. The prevalence of these stories makes it seem like speed is important, like that’s the goal. I say, who cares how long it took to write the song? Would Lennon’s Imagine be better if it was written faster?

What does speed have to do with it? I confess, I err on the other extreme. I have been known to let a half-written song sit on the back burner for years before finalizing the lyrics and melody. That’s neither good nor bad. In the end, the listener has no idea how long it took to write the song, nor how easy or hard it was.

For me, whenever a song comes fast, I’m always eager to give it another look, a quick rewrite to make it just a little bit better. And then another one to improve the weakest lines. And then another to improve the improvements. Next thing you know, it turns out the only thing that was fast about the song was the first draft.

Reprinted from an article written for SAW Notes, newsletter of Songwriter’s Association of Washington

Government grants for singer/songwriters

May 19, 2010

Government grants for singer/songwriters

Does that headline sound like a scam or what? It’s for real and it’s all good news for singers, songwriters, performers and other artists.

Last night I attended a workshop sponsored by the Songwriters Association of Washington (so I knew it was completely legit from the get-go). The workshop title was “Taken for Granted: Uncovering Grant Opportunities for Songwriters in the DC Metro Area”

Maureen Andary described how she was able to get several grants from the DC government and explained it all in detail. She had even researched the surrounding counties and municipalities (Montgomery and Prince Georges in Maryland, Arlington, Fairfax and Alexandria in Virginia) so she was able to speak about them all and help audience members with their location-specific questions.

The biggest surprise to me is that there actually IS grant money available even to singer/songwriters and bands. If you are an organization or partner with one, there are other grants available (in bigger amounts).

She explained that even though the grant world may be a strange new planet for (non-classical) musicians, it’s not that difficult to apply and not that difficult to win a grant. Further, the grant officer was very helpful to her in the process, so you’re not on your own.

I’m looking forward to implementing some of her advice and I’ll report back with my experiences. Wish me luck.

Harvesting your dreams

June 8, 2009


This weekend I attended an amazing songwriting workshop presented by Pete and Maura Kennedy and sponsored by the Songwriters’ Assoc. of Washington. The Kennedys have found a whole new way of thinking about songwriting.

They suggest that we can use our dreams as source material for our songs and they offer specific ways to remember dreams and how to mine them. Many of the techniques for remembering dreams will be familiar to those who have read about dream interpretation. But the big news to me was how our rich dream lives can supply writers with original, creative ideas and images.

They point out that 1/3 of our lives are spent sleeping. During dreams we often see fantastic, magical, other-worldly images, characters and stories. We can use any of them as the subject for a song or as imagery in a song.

To take it further, in lucid dreams (dreams in which you are aware you are dreaming), you can ask (a character in your dream or your sub-concience) for a song. At least one songwriter in the class had already experienced lucid dreaming.

The Kennedys latest (tenth) CD is entitled “Better Dreams”, a project inspired by their dreams.

Your local support group

August 15, 2008

Are you a member of your local songwriter association? These groups are an excellent way to meet songwriters. They often organize open mikes, song swaps, songwriting seminars and contests.

I belong to SAW (Songwriters of Washington), a very active organization, where I’ve been able to get feedback on my songs and general support and friendship from my peers.

If you think your local songwriter association is lame, make it better. Volunteer and make it into what you would like it to be. Odds are if you think it’s lame, so do others. Volunteer, attend some board meetings and start building it into something that serves you.

If there is no local group where you live, try frequenting all the open mike nights you can find. You can try out your newest tunes in front of a friendly audience and meet other songwriters.

Another well-respected group is NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International).