"Be You and Nobody Else But You"

The night before Spencer and I held our first Songwriting Workshop, after meticulously planning the activity flow and overthinking EVERY detail, Spencer found and read aloud an entry from a diary I kept when I was ten years old:

Dear Diary,
Today I woke up and got ready for a supposedly “fun” soccer camp. Though the truth is that it was the most boring thing! Talk about a waste of summer! They say, “juggle,” we try for 20 min. When asking for some directions on HOW to juggle, they don’t pay a thought. How are we going to get better at anything if we’re learning it wrong? I lied and said I got 5 juggles when I really only got 3 at the most. I am going to get 6 juggles tomorrow no matter what! Otherwise I’ll get mad and have to lie again (like today).

Besides being totally mortified by the realization that I am still the same person I was at ten years old, I was petrified our students would have to waste their summer at a boring songwriting camp. How do you get pre-teen girls to each write an original song if they are too nervous to sing by themselves? Will they be self-conscious and tight-lipped? Will they even care?! Heck, why do this at all? Does it even matter?!?!

During our first two years I overcompensated for all of these insecurities about entertaining a group of girls and impressing their parents. I made a minute-to-minute agenda, and would be flustered whenever the conversation veered from the schedule. Thankfully, after three years, I think the control-freak in me is finally starting to relax. In order to empower these girls to express themselves independently through songwriting, I had to let go a little bit. I had to encourage them to make their own creative decisions, even if they differed from my instincts… how else would they find their own voices?

And so, united by their love of chocolate kisses and Taylor Swift, in two days these young female songwriters pieced together parts of their favorite songs to build a completely new and original “Song Collage.” Each of them brought their own brand of creativity to the table: Where some ideas were enthusiastic and carefree, others were thoughtful and full of emotional imagery, resulting in our most compelling songwriting workshop collaboration yet.

And just in case I was dragging girls to a boring camp where they had to lie to fit in, I collected an anonymous reflection sheet: Does songwriting matter?

“Yes, because you can express your feelings and be you and nobody else but you."

"Maggie Monroe" by  Maggie Horton

"Maggie Monroe" by Maggie Horton

There I was, thinking that the secret to unleashing these girls' creative potentials was an immaculate agenda, but this year I figured out that a creative environment has a balance of structure and free-reign. That being said, I just hope none of our girls wrote in their journal: Today I woke up and got ready for a supposedly “fun” songwriting camp.


Below you can listen to our songwriters' culminating project, "Missing You."

Thank you for reading,

Missing You

Songwriting Workshop 2015

Music & Lyrics by Nikki Christian, Evie Harris, Kaitlyn Kasel, Luly Rejtman, Laura Wilcox, and Ava Williamson

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