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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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.

It’s Time / Best Day of My Life – Balcarras Vocal Project

Balcarras Vocal Project

 
With funding from Make Music Gloucestershire, the county’s music education hub, the Songwriting Charity has partnered with Balcarras School to start a brand new secondary school vocal group. The project has worked with 40 singers from across key stage 3 and 4 singing  well-known repertoire with a twist, with vocal arrangements by Ben O’Sullivan, our Director of Progammes. The debut performance of the vocal group took place at the Balcarras spring concert and below is the video from the memorable recording day at the magical Tithe Barn at Postlip Hall.

We hope this is one of many new vocal projects, joining hands with schools and venues across the county to reach more and more young people.

Please see our website for more, where you can see the many ways in which the Songwriting Charity changes the lives of young people through song and support our work through BT my donate, where every penny of your donation goes towards our work: https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/thesongwritingcharity
If you think your school would like to do something similar, please contact ben@songwritingcharity.org

Getting on our bikes to beat bullying

The Songwriting Charity’s very first Nightrider London event is round the corner. Our eighteen Nightriders are primed and ready for the open roads of London. Tooled up with puncture kits, inner tubes, padded shorts, electrolyte tabs, new bicycles, rhubarb & custard gels, water bottles, multi-tools, lights, cameras – ACTION – the team is ready and we are proud of each and every one of them. They have worked hard, trained hard and have been supported by generous sponsors and donors. Team SAMSON are doing an exceptional job! We offer our thanks to everyone involved, especially our sponsors and donors for their support and encouragement. Nightrider London promises to be an exhilarating experience and a night to remember for all involved.

Songwriting CharityIf you receive Google Alerts or equivalent notices about bullying or anti-bullying work and news, you’ll appreciate why we do this work, particularly why we dedicate ourselves to the delivery of Bully Beat (and our many other programmes). Bully Beat is more than a project, a programme, a workshop, it’s an intervention. We are intervening through the intensive, reflective and creative process of songwriting, and aided by the very latest music technology. We are intervening not in a reactive way but in proactive and preventative way. During our workshops, children develop their understanding of bullying through activities and exercises that call on them to reflect on choices they make, the ways in which they behave to one another and the impact those choices can have. Confidence is boosted in a measurable way through participation in singing. We see and document significant positive shifts in children’s pride in literacy work. The benefits and impact are tangible.

Every time a donation is made to any of our Nightrider Bully Beat fundraisers this is the kind of impact you help us have on the lives of children we work with. You should be proud of that. Just look at the infographics below for the proof in our songwriting pudding!

If you haven’t done so already and would like to, please donate to our Nightrider appeal. The more money we raise, the more children and schools we can reach out to. Our team of cyclists deserve the support as do our beneficiaries. Thank you.

SWC_Confidence SWC_Literacy   SWC_Singing

Statistics drawn from evaluation data collected during workshops facilitated by Nathan, Ben, John, Sarah, Kat, Esther, Amy.

Illustrations by Ben O’Sullivan, Director of Programmes.

Ely workers cycle through the night to beat bullying

Bully Beat

The SAMSON Materials Handling Ltd Songwriting Charity Nightrider Team

Workers from SAMSON Materials Handling Ltd in Ely have teamed up with the Songwriting Charity to cycle 100km round London overnight on June 6th to help raise £10,000 to beat bullying in schools.

The funds raised will mean more than 1000 children in primary schools across London, South East and the East of England will benefit directly from participation in the charity’s highly regarded anti-bullying songwriting project, Bully Beat.

Nathan Timothy, Co-Founder and CEO of the Songwriting Charity, said, “We’re very proud to have Terry and his colleagues from SAMSON MH teaming up with us! Bullying is painful, disruptive and damaging to all those affected by it. The idea behind Bully Beat is to get children across the country talking through a network of song, promoting positive anti-bullying intervention, boosting their confidence and self-esteem, some of the very things that bullying behavior destroys. The more we talk about bullying, the stronger the anti-bullying message becomes. When you transform those messages into song, they are amplified and all the more powerful.”

Terry Maley, Services Manager at SAMSON MH said, “I’m happy and grateful to be able to take part in the Nightrider to raise money for the Songwriting Charity. Bullying needs addressing, and I think more so for children who seem to suffer in silence. For the charity to be able to go into schools, and bring these children out of themselves is fantastic, as it shows them that there can be happiness and enjoyment in their lives, and I hope that my small contribution goes some way to help.”

The Songwriting Charity will use the funds raised from the Nightrider challenge to deliver Bully Beat songwriting workshops to schools in and around Ely, and other locations local to where the charity’s Nightrider fundraisers live and work.

About SAMSON Materials Handling Limited:

SAMSON are part of the internationally renowned AUMUND Group, which is based in Germany. For over 40 years, SAMSON Materials Handling have been designing and manufacturing bulk material handling equipment. We are dedicated to providing engineering solutions that are world-class in their concept, execution and delivery. With more than 3,000 installations worldwide, our products are defined by their quality, mobility, flexibility and wide range of application.

About the Nathan Timothy Foundation – Songwriting Charity: The work of the Nathan Timothy Foundation ‘Songwriting Charity’ addresses the emotional health and wellbeing of children and young people using songwriting and music technology. Working from bases in Cambridgeshire, Kent and Gloucestershire, the charity’s Bully Beat songwriting project has been designed to enthuse primary aged children about the process of lyric writing, singing, music arranging and contemporary production whilst promoting a serious anti-bullying message.

To date children’s songs written across a range of the Songwriting Charity workshops have been streamed more than 212,000 times on the charity’s SoundCloud, and their music videos viewed more than 145,000 times via the Songwriting Charity’s YouTube Channel.

You can make a commission free donation to the Bully Beat Nightrider appeal here: https://mydonate.bt.com/events/nightrider2015/200571

Songwriting Charity media contact:

John Quinn, Director of Engagement

M: 07950 022009

E: john@songwritingcharity.org

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’

Video

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.