A Practical Workshop on
the Craft of Songwriting
Next course starts 30 January 2019.
‘The idea of songwriting is a transformative thing, and what I do with songwriting is take situations that are quite ordinary and transform them in some way. [T]he songs I write, at their core, are quite ordinary human concerns, but the process of writing about them transforms them into something else.’
– Nick Cave
‘This course gave me great confidence in songwriting, and to have the guidance of a professional songwriter was so helpful. The course helped me both lyrically and musically to realise my songwriting potential, and I am now constantly writing new material.’
– A. Bradley
Click on the tabs for information.
Whether you are new to songwriting and would like to take your music beyond the shower, or you have already written songs but would like to have a better grounding in the basics, Waltons New School of Music’s six-week Songwriting Workshop, taught by acclaimed songwriter and musician Kieran McEvoy, will help you to develop your creative ideas – in any musical style – and turn them into finished songs.
The workshop begins with a discussion of participants’ questionnaire responses (see the Enrolment tab), as well as an introduction to the craft of songwriting, including song ‘elements’ (verse, chorus, bridge, rhyme, meter, etc.) and their various permutations. Kieran will also play one or two of his own songs to demonstrate what he will teach throughout the course. Participants will then start working on material, both individually and collaboratively.
Songwriting Workshop classes are intended to be instructive, encouraging and collaborative. Here is some of what’s covered:
- Exercises to break ‘writer’s block’ and get the songwriting juices flowing.
- Examining Great Songs, new and old, and what makes them work.
- Collaborating and providing feedback for peers in a constructive and supportive way.
- Lyric Writing. What makes a great first line? What makes a great chorus? (The verses of the song are like climbing up a mountain. The chorus is the view from the top. When you get to the top, the view better be worth the climb!)
- Melody Writing. A ‘singable’ melody is much more memorable. A great ‘hook’ is a brief, irresistible bit of music that the listener will remember even after hearing your song only once.
- Finding a Groove. How to create a rhythmic sound that will make your music stand out.
- The Business of Songwriting, including publishing, royalties, song placement, etc.
Participants can showcase some of the material they have written – both individually and collectively – in a final performance, open to the public. You are encouraged to invite family and friends along.
Participants whose primary interest is lyric writing, music writing – or both – are welcome. Those who play an instrument or sing can incorporate it into their work, both in class and at home. Those who do not will be able to use the instrumental and vocal abilities of Kieran and the other participants to bring their songs to completion. Music reading is not necessary to participate, and knowledge of a chordal instrument (guitar, piano, etc.) is helpful but not required.
Kieran, ‘one of Ireland’s unsung guitar heroes and songwriters’ (Hot Press), hails from Dublin and has been a professional musician for many years, performing with a number of different bands and solo artists. He lived and worked as a musician for eight years in New York City, where he played guitar, sang and contributed songwriting to bands such as the Sony-signed roots act Naked Grape, Indie folk rocker Melissa Sheehan and Electra Records glam rockers Smashed Gladys, among others. On returning to Ireland in 1996, he recorded on his sister Eleanor McEvoy’s Columbia Records album What’s Following Me and toured the US, Europe and Ireland with Eleanor and her band. He also co-wrote ‘Make Mine a Small One’ with Eleanor, which features on her album Early Hours. After that, he collaborated with Australian singer-songwriter Chiara Browne and co-wrote many songs with her for The Rose Ponies, the band they formed together. In 2006 Kieran formed B & The Honeyboys with his partner Aileen Mythen, and their eponymous debut album was critically acclaimed; he is currently writing a new album with Aileen. Kieran was also singer, songwriter and guitarist with The Gospel Project, whose debut album, released in 2009, features his song ‘Overcome’. He continues to work with many other bands and artists, including Luan Parle, Bagatelle and Mickey Harte, as well as with B & The Honeyboys. Kieran has taught at the New School and for our Outreach Programme since 2011.
‘Teaching songwriting is rewarding and inspiring in many ways. Quite often students experience ‘creative blocks’ that stop them moving forward and finishing songs, and it’s a pleasure to help them move beyond that. The process of giving voice to my ideas about songwriting also inspires me to dig a little deeper myself and gives my own creativity a boost. Finally, for most people interested in songwriting, there is a performance aspect, and the performance night at the end of each Songwriting Workshop makes those who don’t feel confident about playing in public challenge themselves. Every single person who has performed really enjoyed the experience, and many caught the ‘performance bug’ and continue to play gigs.’
‘Great, flexible, friendly and encouraging teacher.’
– C. Fay
‘Kieran’s relaxed way of teaching makes you feel at home on the course and gives you the confidence to perform in front of your fellow classmates. I can’t believe I stood up in front of a room full of people and performed my own songs! It was an amazing experience.’
– F. Hannon
‘I finished four songs and found my melodic voice, which I thought was impossible as I don’t play an instrument. I’d like to do a more advanced class with Kieran!’
– S. Kelly
‘Creativity at its best!’
– M. Kerrigan
‘Take that chance – it is never too late. From the day I signed up for the course to the last session the teacher and staff were so helpful and friendly. Just go for it!’
– S. Toner
Have you taken this workshop? We would appreciate it if you could take a few moments to give us your feedback in a brief online questionnaire about your experience here.
2018-2019 Second Term Schedule & Fee
6 weeks, 30 January – 20 March 2019
(No class on 20 February – Mid-Term Break)
Wednesdays 7.30 – 9.30 pm
Tuition Fee: €200
Enrolment & Questionnaire
Enrolment for this workshop requires a completed Enrolment Form and full payment of the course fee. Places are limited to twelve, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis, based on the date of enrolment. Most of our group courses are fully booked well in advance of their start dates, so early enrolment is recommended.
If you have enrolled in the Songwriting Workshop, please print and complete a brief questionnaire and bring it with you to the first class.
Purchasing this course as a gift?
Please complete a Gift Certificate Booking Form.
Questions about the course?