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SAC Songwriting Challenge week #2

CHALLENGE: a difficult task or problem: something that is hard to do.

Not sure what part of that definition escaped me when I signed up for this course… brain still hurts from venturing far far away from my comfort zone.  I will admit I had fun playing around with different drum loops, but had to almost sit on my hands to resist adding a string section-not very “tweenie” sounding.

In any case, THANK YOU! SAC Challenge for pushing me to write a song I would never, ever, ever have otherwise written!

Here is “Give Me A Sign”.

SAC Songwriting and Blogging Challenge 2015 – Time to STRETCH

photoThe 2015 SAC Songwriting Challenge has come at the perfect time for me. I was needing a push-a structured environment to help me re-focus on my craft and to put songwriting back on my priority list.

Creating time each day to listen to the other songwriters’ Soundcloud links and to read their blogs has been inspiring. Such great talent out there is both awesome and inspiring!

To date, songwriting for me has been a “solo sport”. One where I write songs only for me to sing. The Pat Pattison SAC challenge of 2013 pushed me out of my comfort zone experimenting with different musical styles and different approaches to songwriting (writing from a title) but I still only wrote for me.                                                                                                           I have to admit, writing a song for others and writing a song solely to pitch is something I would never attempt to do unless pushed to do so. So……THANK YOU to this SAC challenge for pushing me out of my comfort zone……..l am looking forward to seeing where I end up……..

Links! for my Christmas shows

Thanks for all the great feedback from last weeks blog with my Christmas concert dates. For those of you who have been asking me for ticket sale links…….here they are!

choice#1Thanks for your support and here is another song from JOY to listen to….. Season of Love


November 30th at 2:30pm Celtic Christmas

December 8th at 4:00pm  Songs of Christmas at the Gladstone Hotel 

December 15th at 2:30pm Songs of Christmas at Marsh Street in Support of BVO’s Christmas Hampers  

Christmas concerts and a new Christmas ep

Christmas CD

It has been a busy fall writing and recording songs for my new Christmas cd “JOY” Below is a link to my new song Hosanna! from the upcoming release. Please have a listen; download it; and feel free to share it with others!

Hosanna! NEW christmas song


 Christmas Concert Dates

The dates for my Christmas concerts are now set and I have listed them below. I will be back in touch with more details and links to ticket sales.

I look forward to singing for you soon!

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 30 @ 2:30PMCeltic Christmas Assembly Hall, Etobicoke

 SUNDAY DECEMBER 1 @ 2:30PM – Songs of the Season  CONDUCTING the Goldenaires Women’s Choir Meaford United Church, Meaford

SUNDAY DECEMBER 8 @ 4:00PM Joy! Songs of Christmas Gladstone Hotel, Toronto

SUNDAY DECEMBER 15 @ 2:30PMJoy! Songs of Christmas Marsh Street Centre, Clarksburg

WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 18 @ 12NOONMusic at St. Andrew’s  St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Barrie

And the winner is…(Songwriting Course and Blogging Challenge)

What a great course this was!! Thank you so much S.A.C., Pat Pattison and Coursera for this incredible experience!

Songwriters Association of Canada

northeastonSeveral weeks ago over 50 S.A.C. members signed on, not only to complete Berklee ProfessorPat Pattison‘s online songwriting course offered by Coursera, but also to blog about their experience in the 2013 S.A.C. Songwriting Course & Blogging Challenge.  From the get go, the private Facebook group was a flurry of activity as people shared song snippets, inspiration and things they had learned from Pat.

Fast forward several weeks later, and not everyone made it to the finish line.  The course proved more intense than many people anticipated.  But everyone benefited from participating.  Unbeknownst to participants, a winner was selected to receive a FREE ONE YEAR S.A.C. MEMBERSHIP to be added to their existing membership.

It was difficult to choose because, those who did make it to the end, really put their heart and soul into the process.  In the end, North Easton was selected for his…

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Pat Pattison Songwriting Week #6 “Listening with new ears”

I have been putting off writing this 6th and final blog in our SAC challenge as if somehow I can prolong the course by not finishing it….                      It has been a truly remarkable learning experience and I can now say I am “listening with new ears.”

In this final week of lessons, Pat Pattison talked about phrasing as “the body language of the song.” As songwriters, we can create different emotions depending on which beat of the bar we begin a phrase on. Which means even though the melody remains the same for each verse, we  have the ability to change/colour the emotional content of it depending on how we phrase each line – whether we start on the downbeat (front heavy) or on a weaker beat (back heavy).

My assignment this week was to take the song I had written last week and apply body language “to adjust the phrasing to support the emotions of the lines”.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     In the initial recording of “The End” I had sung every line front heavy (starting on the downbeat of the bar). Going through the song line by line, some were obviously back heavy and what a difference it made in the interpretation! There were, however, some lines I struggled with so I took the song apart and created a technical exercise where I wrote out the strong and weak beats and then shifted around the phrases to see which fit best.

I kept the worksheet in front of me when I re-recorded the vocal line but it came out sounding stilted-like the technical exercise I had turned it into. I had to remember what Pat had said this week “information enhances creativity-it doesn’t stifle it.”

What Pat had given us this week was another tool to help express the song. So….armed with my tools….not rules….here is my new version of what is appropriately called in this final class…”The End”

Week #5 “Informed Inspiration”

Toolbox Cake

“Informed Inspiration”

I am still processing all the information and songwriting tools presented by Pat Pattison during week 5 of his Berklee Songwriting Course. The 14 video classes contained very specific tools to help along the creative process-or as Pat says “combining the head and the heart.”

I must admit I found this difficult to do. Almost like I was cheating on my creativity by stepping outside “the zone” to look at a worksheet of rhymes, or to look at whether the melodic note I had chosen was stable or unstable.

I had to step back and approach the technical aspects of the lessons the same way I would approach my vocal training. I have a Masters Degree in Vocal Performance which means I have a whole toolbox full of technique. Technique (or tools) I can pick and choose from depending on what song I am about to sing.

Looking at week 5 from this angle, why not be able to approach the craft of songwriting the same way? So….while I felt the exercises technical in nature, I found the concepts themselves fascinating and they have opened up a world of options!!

At this point I could go on and on about sonic connections and search engines…..but I think that’s another blog……now for the assignment itself….

Starting with only a title and working through the exercises Pat gave us was a completely new way for me to write a song. I thought as long as I was outside my comfort zone, I might as well try writing in a genre I had never tackled before.

It felt a  bit like an intellectual exercise that ended up in a song. Is this a song I will end up finishing and adding into my repertoire? Dunno……

But what I do know is that eventually these two seemingly unlikely partners of intellect and creative instinct will play nicely together. And in the meantime… is my first attempt titled “The End”.



“Preserving the Natural Shape of the Language” (A song in progress for Pat Pattison’s songwriting course).

So many excellent concepts introduced in the last two weeks of video lectures that I feel the need to summarize them. My head is spinning so here is my attempt at “spotlighting” what I have learned…

During week 3 Pat Pattison talked about using different rhyme schemes to “colour the journey through the song.” The end rhymes create a road map for the ear that we, as songwriters, use to enhance the meaning/emotion/journey through the song we are writing. By setting up “sonic expectations” for the listener, we hopefully engage them from the opening note through to the very end.

This week we added yet another layer in our songs’ journey-preserving the natural shape of the language. By organizing our lines in rhythm (stressed words with strong beats) we “marry the meaning of the language to the emotion of the music.”

Now for the assignment at hand…..taking the verse and chorus from last week and 1.indicating stressed and unstressed syllables 2.recording it matching the syllabic rhythm as perfectly as possible to the melodic rhythm.

I must admit that I found part 1 difficult. My melodic rhythm kept overriding the natural rhythm of the spoken line. I finally had to work from the bottom up, taking the lines completely out of context so they no linger fell into a sing-song rhythm.

Also, the song kept pulling me back into a 3/4 time signature when all the examples Pat had used during the week were 4/4.

This “journey through a song” is taking some interesting sidetrips…… is “When You Were Still MIne”

Week 3 of Pat Pattison’s Songwriting Course and SAC Blogging Challenge

Treble Clef


This week I have taken Pat Pattison’s motto “no rules, only tools” to heart and mixed things up a bit. I have “altered” the assignment slightly to suit my song.

The verse and chorus I started in the assignment last week had begun to take on a life of it’s own and I wasn’t ready to give up on this song’s journey for the sake of an exercise so…….instead of writing a stable verse leading into an unstable chorus, I have continued developing the stable chorus of last week’s song into an unstable bridge.

In this week’s video lessons Pat talked about how the end line rhymes create a road map for the ear-a road map of what is coming next. I wanted my new and unstable bridge to propel the song back into the stable chorus and a repeat of the main theme.

Here is a quick analysis of the rhyme schemes and rhyme categories we learned about this week and how I applied them to my (as yet untitled) song.

My chorus with equal line lengths, a balanced rhyme scheme and words (time and mine) living in the family rhyme category, create a “stable statement.”

Then comes the bridge with it’s unequal line lengths, a rhyme scheme that starts aa with perfect rhyme but then falls apart. The last two lines don’t even fall into the least stable rhyme categories of assonant and consonant. Therefore it sounds unstable and propels the singer back into a repeat of the chorus and a stable resolution.

Here goes……..

It’s too close to morning  I can’t stop the time. I wish I could wake up  And you were still mine.

Night after night as I lie here in bed / I know it was nothing I did or I said. Still I just wonder what happened to us / How did it all go so wrong?

Week 2 of Pat Pattison’s Songwriting Course and SAC Blogging Challenge

The adventure in songwriting continues as we build on the foundational tools Pat Pattison set in place last week.

A great song starts with a story that the songwriter feels need to be told. Last week Pat walked us through the tools necessary to develop our story.

So….now we have a story……how do we turn it into a great song??


“How everything fits together to support the central message of the song.”

This week’s video lessons introduced us to STABLE AND UNSTABLE – our friends that determine number of lines and length of lines in our verse/chorus that affect the feeling of the song.

I took a look at some of the songs I had written in the past and sure enough, there they were! Unstable verses pressing the song towards the chorus for completion as well as stable choruses completing the intent of the song.  It’s great to know this is actually a technique I can now call upon to help me in what I want to say! Or as Pat says “this tool of balanced/unbalanced gives the songwriter a say in where the song is going.”

So (finally) to this week’s blogging assignment-The idea I chose for an unstable verse that moves into a stable chorus.

I chose the story of heartache (a breakup not of one’s choosing). A subject that is uneasy and uncomfortable told within a 3 lined (unbalanced and unstable) verse. This unbalanced verse edges towards the stable (balanced) chorus that completes the thought-or-a balanced statement of fact.

So here goes!

piano pic476kbAt peace in my slumber I lie here in bed – Forgetting the heartache and morning I dread – When I will wake up alone.

It’s too close to morning – I can’t stop the time. I wish I could wake up – And you were still mine.