See yourself as the next Bob Dylan? Maybe you’ve got a songwriting partner and you want to become the next Lennon and McCartney? Or maybe you’re more of a Burt Bacharach/Hal David type? Or Holland-Dozier-Holland. Maybe even a Mark Knopfler?
Well it doesn’t really matter, because whether you’re into writing soulful ballads, funky hip-hop, heavy rock or enigmatic songs that defy categorization, this is the course for you!
Tamara Barschak is a pianist, composer, piano teacher, film-maker and all round creative person whom I have known for many years and she is making her years of experience and training in the creative music arts available to those who want to learn the art (and science) of songwriting. If you have ever dreamed of writing that great song that lingers – barely half-formed – in your mind, now is your chance to learn from an accomplished expert who has a vast range of experience in all kinds of music: classical, jazz, bosanova, blues, pop and rock.
Tamara is qualified and experienced in teaching all aspects of musicianship and music theory. The course – carefully devised by Tamara herself and based on her years of experience as a songwriter and music teacher – includes lyric writing, lyrical genres, musical genres, melody, metre, tempo, traditional song structure and variations of structure… i.e. those rare, exceptional songs that break the rules and get away with it!
Tamara has taught music students of all levels, ages and abilities and as some one who has learned from her myself – and written songs with her – I can attest to the fact that her diversity of range and background in music and teaching makes her the ideal teacher for the creative skill of songwriting.
“Creativity itself cannot be taught,” Tamara explained to me, when I first studied at her feet (figuratively speaking), “but if even the merest hint or spark of creativity is already there, it can be nurtured, fed, fueled and channeled by the teaching (and learning) of rules, principles and their inevitable exceptions.” And it is precisely in the teaching of these rules and principles – and the art of identifying the exceptions to those rules and principles – that Tamara most impressively excels!
This short but unparalleled course, which costs just £80 and requires no previous songwriting experience, consists of five sessions (1:00 – 3:30 p.m.) over the course of five weeks, starting on the 1st of October.
1 October: The Art of Lyric Writing
8 October: Writing a melody part 1 (notes, patterns, intervals, chord progressions and key signatures)
15 October: Writing a melody part 2 (rhythm, rhythmic patterns, time signatures, tempo and metre)
22 October: Preparation for the Students’ Final Songs (with coaching and advice)
29 October: Recording Students’ Songs
The course, which includes practical exercises and hands-on practice, encourages artistic collaboration between the students, as many of the most famous songs were written by duos or larger groups.
In the final session, students will record their songs and get a recording to keep and take with them.
This is a unique opportunity to fully explore one’s own creativity, compose a song from scratch and record it forever!
I have noticed, every time I log on to YouTube to listen to my favourite music from the sixties through the eighties, that there is invariably some disparaging comment, contrasting the music of Justin Bieber with the great music of the sixties to eighties. I have seen this on YouTube videos of everyone from The Seekers to Jethro Tull to Melanie Safka, from Abba to Jim Croce to Dire Straits, from the Alan Parsons Project to Ace of Base. Whilst I certainly prefer all those acts – and many more – to anything that Justin Bieber has done thus far, I think those critics are being unfair to him – on a number of counts.
First of all, let us not forget that Justin Bieber is very young, barely seventeen, and has not really had the time to develop genuine musical sophistication. In spite of this, he managed to teach himself to play the guitar (left-handed), piano, trumpet and drums – and all by the time he was fourteen. To learn to play even one musical instrument is hard. To teach oneself to play four takes a degree of dedication that your average X-factor contestant, or even winner, simply does not have. It is for that reason that I suspect Justin Bieber has the kind of staying power in the music industry to avoid being a here-today-gone tomorrow supernova, as well as the self-discipline to avoid the all-too-familiar burnout that plagues the likes of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.
But what implication does this have for his music? To answer that question we must look at older musical talent that has stayed the course. They may differ from each in many respects but the one thing they have in common is a tendency to change their styles as they mature, to experiment with different forms and develop new and changing interests in all aspects of music. I am not talking about Madonna reinventing herself every few years, although that is an aspect of the same phenomenon – and she is certain a role model when it comes to an almost Spartan regime of self-discipline. I am talking about people like Tom Jones trying his hand – and vocal chords – at religious music, Bob Dylan risking the wrath of the hippie crowd by picking up an electric guitar or Ricky Nelson moving away from fifties rock-and -oll to become Rick Nelson.
Not every transformation is equally good in the eyes of everyone. I still prefer the old BeeGees in melodious sixties “Run to Me” style than their pseudo-macho “Staying Alive” era. And I don’t like it when sixties artists re-record their hits at half the tempo, whether it be “Both Sides Now” or “Hello World.” But my personal preferences are not the point. It is the capacity to change ones style whilst living by the doctrine “above all to thine own self be true,” – as much as Alice Cooper’s dictum about separating ones public from by ones private persona – that enables some to stay the course while others fall by the wayside.
And this is the lesson that the old fogies of pop and rock can teach Justin Bieber. As he matures and grows musically, it is inevitable that he will vary his style and experiment with different forms. If he can also avoid the pitfalls that come with being surrounded by yes-men then we can be sure that he will stay the course and enrich the world with his music for many years to come.