NT’s Top Ten Songwriting Tips

  1. Do it everyday! Have a writing routine and make sure you stick to it. Lately I have got into the habit of writing something at the piano just before dinner – I find there’s something about being hungry that makes me really creative! Saying that, It doesn’t matter where you are. The great thing about songwriting is you don’t have to be at the piano – in fact a lot of my songs were written in the car whilst driving. But this discipline of writing everyday means in time you will have collected a huge volume of songs or song ideas. The best songs will start to make themselves known because you’ll want to keep singing them.
  2. Don’t forget your ideas! Make sure you keep a notebook with you at all times. This can be digital or paper or in my case both. When I started writing songs I’d record everything onto a cassette tape but now I use the Voice Memo recorder on my phone. There’s lots of great phone apps – I’ve used one called Music Memos which is very cool.
  3. Always be in songwriting mode! Observe the world around you and listen carefully to the things people say and how they say it. Also, your own thoughts, dreams and things you see and hear all around you are rich with potential song ideas, titles, rhythms or melodies.
  4. Set yourself a challenge! Be strict with yourself. Write a song in a given time frame. Give yourself a topic to write about. Write a song that has loads of chords in it. Write using 2 chords only. Write a complete song a day for a whole month. If you always write on guitar try writing on piano or another instrument. These challenges will create some interesting songs!
  5. Embrace technology! There are so many free music apps available. Try using the music you can create on these as a starting point for a song. It could be a drum pattern or a complete backing track. Try writing a song over the top. If you can afford it buy a drum machine or a synthesiser. See where the sounds take you.
  6. Have high standards! Even if you’re doing this for fun ask yourself – Is this lyric the best it can be? Is this melody memorable? Do I like this song? If not, don’t be afraid to rewrite.
  7. Experiment! Rules are made to be broken! When you’ve written a song why don’t you try moving the verses around, start with the chorus, make the bridge section longer, insert an instrumental section, try a key change, get rid of the introduction, add an extra bar at the end of the second verse, add a pre-chorus, try slowing down or speeding the song up, try singing it in a different key(higher or lower). Obviously you don’t have to do all of these things all at once in every song, but you can try it!
  8. Sing out loud! Try singing the melody out loud. Is it memorable? If you sing it to your friends or family can they sing it back to you easily after one listen? If not, work on it until it’s so catchy they can’t get it out of their heads! Is the melody of the verses different from the melody in the chorus? If not try starting the chorus on a different note – see what happens. Look at the shape of the melody in the verses and make sure the shape of the chorus is different enough to stand out and be memorable.
  9. Get rid of words you don’t need! Often you will have a lot of words you don’t need just getting in the way of the singing and melody i.e. just, so, that… Remove them and see what happens!
  10. Co-write! Writing songs with others is great fun and can be very productive. But don’t forget to listen to each other and respect them. Don’t go with a blank piece of paper. Take your ideas note book with you. That way you’ll always have something to work from. Recognise a good idea and don’t be upset if your ideas don’t get chosen. It doesn’t mean they’re bad ideas they just may not fit the song you’re working on right now. Be passionate and enthusiastic and write great songs because you love writing and not because you want to be famous or rich!
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“You helped me do something today I never thought I could” 

Friends, we need your help. The aim is simple, to deliver an exciting new songwriting and music project designed to empower young people in recovery from addiction. And we need you to help us by making a donation to make this project happen.

This is a new project, in an area of the country we’ve not worked before, and with beneficiaries who would benefit from the time and creative expertise of the Songwriting Charity’s workshop leaders and support workers.

We’ve named this project, Stronger Together, the objective is to embrace the needs of young people aged 14-19 who have experienced difficulties because of drugs and alcohol, and supporting them and empowering them through the art and craft of songwriting and music creation. The project will start on 18th April 2017. We have a base for the project. Young people who are already engaged in recovery are aware of the project and will be meeting with us soon to talk about the next steps.

Workshops led by Nathan Timothy and his team of freelance artists  will work with young people who will self refer over the course of six weeks, focusing on their strengths rather than their difficulties, helping them to look forward to the future with positivity and hope. The project will be based in a safe and welcoming environment, one that the young people will be familiar with and comfortable working in.

The funds raised will be used to entirely fund the costs of workshop leaders, session workers, pastoral support and venue costs. The route from donor to beneficiary couldn’t be clearer or more direct. We are accountable to our beneficiaries, and to you, the donor. We will share the successes, difficulties, impact, the things we make together and the changes that occur as a result of the project.

The title of this post is apt. Many children and young people say to us “You helped me do something today I never thought I could…..” this statement reminds us how powerful songwriting and music creation can be. It shows how opportunities like this can help by providing positive social experiences, addressing problematic attitudes and perceptions, and distracting from negative and damaging influences in a creative way.

Please consider making a contribution to this project, and in doing so you’ll help us replace a young persons feelings of hopelessness and negativity with a sense of pride, optimism and achievement.

Contribute here.

Nathan Timothy Receives Prestigious BASCA Gold Badge Award

Founder and CEO of the Songwriting Charity, Nathan Timothy, has been honoured in this years Gold Badge Awards for… “inspiring and empowering a whole generation of children and young people through music.”

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The BASCA Gold Badge Awards have been presented for over forty years and honour those who have worked tirelessly to support the British songwriting and composing community. This year, Nathan shares the list with a glittering collection of creative individuals.

Crispin Hunt, BASCA Chairman said: “It is a great pleasure for BASCA to celebrate the creativity, inspiration, taste and genius included in this year’s list of Gold Badge Award recipients. Each of these remarkable individuals has helped shape the architecture of the music Britain loves in their own unique and significant way. For BASCA’s community of songwriters and composers to be able to congratulate and pay tribute to their influence in our profession at this joyous event is an honour. It’ll be a good one.”

We’re very proud of Nathan for all of the hard work and dedication he has put into his songwriting career over the last couple of decades, and his work inspiring and empowering children and young people through the wonder of music and songwriting.

We hope you’ll join us in congratulating Nathan.

Well done, buddy!

Whoever You Are

Impossible not to be charmed and impressed by this latest Bully Beat song brought to us by the consistently brilliant young songwriters at Edward Francis Primary School, Rayleigh, Essex. The song deals with a serious issue confronting children and young people today. Whoever You Are is catchy, thoughtful, containing crystal clear messages. The sparkling performances captured in the video ensure the song’s appeal ranges far and wide. We’ve no doubt it will bring a smile to your face and get you tapping your feet, all for the right reasons!

Well done Edward Francis Primary School! You have graduated two cohorts of exceptional songwriters and clued up Bully Beat activists! This year’s Anti-Bullying Week is all about Making A Noise About Bullying – well you guys have been doing that for the last two years (and more) with the Songwriting Charity.

We offer thanks to the Essex Community Foundation and the Angus Lawson Memorial Trust Burns Night Pledge donors for supporting this important project, for playing their part in empowering children through the art and craft of songwriting and helping the world hear what they have to say.

Preparing for Nightrider 2015

SWCharity Nightrider

Between now and June 6th, we’ll be pushing out blogs written by some (if not all) of our registered Nightrider charity cyclists. Most of the people taking part are like me (JQ) novices when it comes to cycling and participating in this kind of challenge. There are also a number of seasoned cyclists on our side who have contributed much already in terms of advice, information, hints and tips on getting the most of this experience. Terry Maley, Dewayne Artrey, Fergus Gracey and Nick Lomax, thank you!

Our first contributor is Sarah Willson, Project Accountant, SAMSON Materials Handling Ltd, Ely. Sarah is one of eight SAMSON MH employees including Songwriting Charity Trustee, Sharon Hall, taking on Nightrider to help us to beat bullying this year and beyond. Sarah has started training hard for the challenge and is doing well and shared the following with us, “Ok, chose nice country roads and managed 13.5k. Could have gone further, just didn’t know how far I had gone but quite pleased with that. Saying that not sure bum could handle more. Not sure if I’m going to be able to sit down tomorrow. Ordering padded leggings this afternoon!”

13.5k is a good distance, keep it up Sarah. Don’t forget the old maxim ‘little and often’. Getting saddle time in these early days is vital. I’ve been advised that padded shorts/leggings are also a must have!

Sarah is fundraising for the Songwriting Charity‘s anti-bullying programme Bully Beat. Bully Beat helps children to understand the effect, impact and consequences of bullying, it also helps to build their confidence and improve their self esteem, the very things that bullying can erode and destroy. Parents often tell us by email or via social media just how much Bully Beat has helped their children gain in confidence, and the boost to self-esteem they’ve experienced being a songwriter and recording artist for one very special day!

With your help, we will reach many more children affected by bullying behaviour. Please support us and support Sarah Willson’s efforts by making a donation here: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/sarahwillson1

 

 

‘Thinking out Loud’

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Children of Queenborough School and Nursery in Kent miming the Ed Sheeran/Amy Wadge Song ‘Thinking Out Loud’ in a special video tribute, part of a school music project, filmed by Nathan Timothy, CEO of the Songwriting Charity.

Smiling Faces

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A few weeks ago, we received an email from a chap over in the US who suggested a way to drive awareness, interest and possibly generate donations that would go towards the delivery of songwriting workshops. A musical collaboration between LA based DJs, musicians and producers called Clinton Vansciver and Bijan Malaklou that would benefit the charity in a number ways was we thought an excellent idea!

Keen to say thank you for taking such an interest in what we do at the @SWCharity @JohnMichaelQ arranged a Skype call with @BijanMalaklou and after about 90 minutes, we agreed a timetable, objectives and outcomes from this partnership.

Now proud owners of our limited edition One Song One Day badges, Van Sciver and Bijan Malaklou have released their melodically driven, feel good anthem — “Smiling Faces.” And to celebrate the release of this new track, @Van_Sciver and @BijanMalaklou have officially partnered with us to help drive awareness of our work.

Each download will help fund workshops for children to learn the art and craft of songwriting. Download your free copy of “Smiling Faces” now. When you do, don’t be shy, share the love and show your appreciation for these guys. As a result of the release of Smiling Faces, we have seen a surge in Soundcloud followers, subscribers and video views on our YouTube Channel, and plenty of love on Twitter. Get those dancing shoes on and throw some shapes – this is no sitter, so get ready to move!

Track Download: bit.ly/smilingfacesDL
Track Stream: smarturl.it/smilingfaces