How to Use Songwriting Meetups

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  • @sarahmonticue Apr 9

    I'm not sure if anyone is still here, but I thought I would give my question a try...

    I'm working on forming a songwriting meetup group here in Grand Cayman, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to use it. There are people that are willing to come, so that's a start! But do any of you have tips about how to best use the time to give it some focus and get the most out of it?

  • @stevenwesleyguiles  Apr 9

    I think having a writing prompt for each week, so everyone has something to show up with, would be a great way to focus the group.

    OR some kind of assignment. Something that people can focus on and produce in the time they're NOT there. Almost like a long-term skirmish.

    You all choose a song title, a theme, a style, and everyone writes it, then when you meet again you all share the songs with each other. 😀


  • @stevenwesleyguiles  Apr 9

    @sarahmonticue - I'm only here a little bit now. 😀

  • @metalfoot  Apr 9

    I would echo @stevenwesleyguiles ideas-- I wish I had a songwriting group to meet up with! But if you can get one going, having themes/ideas/topics is not a bad idea at all.

  • @sarahmonticue Apr 12

    Thanks @stevenwesleyguiles and @metalfoot! We had a meeting yesterday, and I brought a prompt and a song I wrote as a result. So they're working on songs from that prompt to share for next time. It really was an encouraging time. I'm hoping that we will be able to grow and really help spur each other on in our songwriting endeavors.

  • @tcelliott  Apr 14

    I've helped host a couple of songwriting groups and there a couple of things that I think are important.

    Having someone lead that is encouraging and has a good control of the flow of the meeting are important. Keeping people on track. Don't let people play two songs at once even if they are very nice people (which they are almost always.)

    What works for us:

    Monthly meetings. Weekly meetings work if you have a couple of friends that will be there nearly every week. This also has an unintended effect of having a core group that can keep rowdy people at bay. By rowdy, those who are so enthusiastic that they tend to dominate topics or unintentionally take control. (If it's intentional I don't invite them back.) But for us, monthly meetings are great. (Most people don't write a new song in less than a month anyway.)

    Like Applehead said, a new prompt for each meeting. I like loose prompts. I don't like titles (at least not for a song circle/meeting.) Ours for next week is "Rain"

  • @tcelliott  Apr 14

    contd: Our moderator asks if the songwriter wants feedback after a performance. If they say yes then suggestions or opinions are offered. I like to keep people on the sandwich of feedback. Tell the songwriter something you liked. Tell the songwriters something that you felt could be improved. Tell the songwriters something you liked. It's easy to "pile on" someone unintentionally.

    We allow live performances (obviously) but also recorded demos. Even a lyricist who typically reads a lyric can record it and play it in class if they'd like. I have one of those ten dollar bluetooth speakers for people who have an mp3 on their phone. It also has an 1/8" plugin and I bring a cord. But we mainly encourage people to perform their new songs even if it's rough.

    In our old circle we would have a lesson then share songs. It could be a guest invited to talk or a member invited to share. Subjects were about: rhyme types and uses, form and structure, rhythm, genres, copyright, Nashville resources

  • @tcelliott  Apr 14

    contd again: etc.,

    But the biggest and most important piece of advice is what I started with. Whoever hosts should be warm and welcoming and firm. In other words, don't be afraid to say, "guys and gals, we need to move on to let everyone share ONE song. If we have time at the end and everyone agrees we will allow folks to share a second song."

    Or "While I love that you are enthusiastic about the song to play along, we insist that you ask before contributing to another songwriters performance. Typically those arrangements are made ahead of time."

    or "Let's leave the political discussion out of our responses and focus on the actual songwriting." or "We don't care what your stance is, only that you've written a song." Or "At this songwriters meeting we don't allow curse words unless it's in the actual song, and even then we have standards. Thank you for understanding."

    Hopefully that won't be a big problem, but could become an issue. Most people want rules.

  • @sarahmonticue Apr 16

    @tcelliott these thoughts are so helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time to share them! I feel so grateful for your willingness to share your experience with me so that I can have some of this knowledge even when it's just my first songwriters meetup. I feel like I've already seen that it's so important to have a strong and encouraging leader like you said. It's so easy for people to get chatting or go off track. Or it's easy for people to start giving feedback that might not be super helpful. So those thoughts about how a leader could help with those things seems really key. Thank you!

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