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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”.