Young Writers’ City Songwriting Summer School

Every morning we started by doing really fun warm up exercises, directed by Liz and designed to make everyone a little more comfortable. The kids engaged in every activity with no hesitation, which was a surprise to us all.

We then started listening to each individual’s music style to get to know what everyone was interested in. This gave us an idea of what we were going to create over the next 3 days. After this we broke off into groups, one focusing on lyric writing and the other focusing on the creative processes of making a musical piece.

I was really impressed with how creative and talented the kids were. In the lyric room, the group threw me ideas and I’d record them on the board for everyone to see the development. This process gave us a subject for the song that was going to be created.

I was impressed how fast they came up with an idea and structure for a song in the first day. One song created by Milan, Timmy, Bright and James, with smashing vocals from Monica, and assistance from Ahmed on the third day was “Follow your dreams”. This song sounded very professional, relevant and it was incredibly catchy. It’s still stuck in my head!

Near the end of the day we would perform to each other what was created, a moment in which the kids showed amazing appreciation for each other’s ideas. We would also sit in a circle before finishing and tell everyone what we enjoyed about the session and what we could do to improve the next.

On the second and third day, we were joined by the very talented Claudia, Kevin and Uri. They created an amazing love song about heartbreak called “Treat me right” which was a very mature, real and relevant. This was one of my favorites.

In another room we also had Destiny, Kennedy and Chris who came up with something more edgy which spiced up the mix. The concept of the song was about trusting yourself, being confident and having a good time. I was really intrigued by some of the thoughts and ideas they were producing.

As part of the songwriting process in this group we began creating an instrumental from scratch, with me on the midi keyboard and the rest sharing ideas of how they wanted the beat to sound. The coordination was so natural, it seemed as though they had done this before.

On the last day, to our surprise, we had three songs created, largely surpassing our initial expectations. We gave each group 20 minutes to record and everyone managed to perform to a high standard, excelling in confidence.

In the end we reflected on what we had accomplished in the last three days. The comments from the kids were amazing. Milan had said he was ‘really impressed with how well everyone worked together and how talented everyone was to come up with three songs, finished and recorded, in three days. Thank you for this amazing opportunity’. Claudia also said she was ‘really proud of the effort everyone has put in, to think we created something so good in such a short space of time is great’.

Working with these young people, made me realize how creative and talented they are. The thoughts and ideas they were projecting were really interested. I do believe they have so much to offer, all they need is to be given a chance and an opportunity.