ISSUE NO. 20 | OCTOBER 2020
FACING THE MUSIC:
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF MODERN DAY MUSIC SCHOOL
At the beginning of 2020, Modern Day Music launched a brand new group program all about songwriting.
The Songwriting Program was a great success and has expanded to offer the best instruction to students who want to learn the art of writing music and lyrics. The 8-week program is split into two course levels with coaches Laura Johnson and Ben Zoleski.
BY LAURA BETH JOHNSON
FACING THE MUSIC: songwriting explored
The two course levels of the Songwriting groups are tailored to students’ ages and skill levels. Level 1 is for beginners who might have never written a song. Students learn basic song structure and identify it by listening critically to songs they already know. They also write as a group with the guidance of their coach. Students learn the meaning of melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhyme, meter, hooks, grooves, chords, and more. They also write in pairs once the coach has an idea of everyone’s strengths and weaknesses.
Laura Johnson said, “I love teaching beginners. It’s a wonderful feeling to invite someone into the creative space I love most.” Laura holds a Bachelor's degree in Writing from Houghton College with an emphasis in Songwriting. She has been writing songs for over a decade and released her first album, The Sorrow Estate, during her second year of college. “Music gives my biggest feelings a place to go,” Laura explained, “The most rewarding part of teaching someone to write a song is watching them risk transparency. Good songs are impossible to hide in so when you get to a certain level, even with younger students, it’s about arranging a space for real emotion to live.”
Level 2 is for intermediate and advanced students. It’s perfect for those who play an instrument, write regularly, and aspire to perform and/or record their songs. Groups in Level 2 receive songwriting challenges. They might have to write a song about fruit or a tune based on the work of Taylor Swift.
“In Level 2 I encourage a workshop-like atmosphere. Students share songs and the group responds,” said Laura, “There is nothing more valuable to a songwriter than their audience's gut. What did it feel like to hear the song? Was anything confusing? Did the song contain clichés? What questions came to mind about the narrative or the characters?” she continued, “In Level 1, I’m trying to show students how to thoughtfully create content. In Level 2, we learn to edit.”
Elvita F. (17) was in the Level 1 group and moved to Level 2. She said, “Being in the Songwriting program has shown me that it’s ok to explore, and it’s ok not to be on track the first time around with writing. I feel like I want to write so much more now. The last session was so much fun and Level 2 is great so far too!”
Michaela O. noted that her group was “the perfect environment to explore this whole new territory with.” Students share trials and successes together that form a supportive, safe space. Michaela continued, “It definitely made me so much more comfortable with myself as a musician and with opening up my creative side! I can't wait to keep writing and working with everyone next session. It's going to be so good!”
The goal of both levels is to end with at least one finished original song. Level 2 students might write more songs, but the goal is to have one finalized and ready to perform or even record. Students leave with much more than words and chords on a page. Through writing songs, one can learn to better understand themselves and others.
If you would like to join a Songwriting group, please contact the office. The next 8-week session starts in December.
Will you face the music?
Shasha W., 18, is a freshman at SUNY Oneonta. She is majoring in Music Industry and has been taking lessons from MDM since she was 10! Shasha came to Modern Day Music for guitar and voice lessons in 2012 and rocked and rolled in the Band Program! “I always loved how the Band Program is like the movie Camp Rock., she said. "You play music you love with a band at a live show!”
Performing in the Band Program gave Shasha the confidence to audition for her high school’s musicals. “She has a passion for the stage that I find inspiring,” said her Vocal Coach, Laura Johnson. Last year, Shasha landed a lead in her favorite show, Mama Mia. “I definitely wouldn’t have gotten a lead role without voice lessons because I needed that guidance for healthy technique.," she explained,.I got to play a really fun, vivacious character and make the audience laugh which is the best feeling ever.” The show was a huge success. Laura confirms, “She was radiant and I cried.”
Shasha is taking a break from the stage for now, but has her sights set on a new path. She’s ready to put a band together on her own! Shasha explained, “I learned from the Band Program how to interact with other musicians, build a setlist, make use of rehearsal time, and perform at live shows,” she continued, “I’m forming a band with some friends and we’re planning to play in and around Oneonta as soon as we can.”
Shasha writes original music and hopes to perform her originals with the group. One of Shasha’s favorite songwriters is Kehlani who writes and performs R&B music. Shasha said, “I love Kehlani’s love songs the most. Usually I have to listen to songs that boys write about girls to hear pronouns I relate to,” she explained. “I think it’s important to write from your own experience. People don’t realize it, but a lot of artists are in the LGBT+ community and representation is important.”
In the future, Shasha would like to manage touring artists and bands. For now she still takes lessons with Laura on Zoom. Shasha concluded, “I’m glad to have the option of Zoom lessons while I’m at college because I can continue progressing and it reminds me of home.”
We are so proud of who you are and what you have accomplished, Shasha!
There is one more spot in our current songwriting class for ages 15 & up! Join for a prorated price by reaching out to us in the office!
A POEM FOR OCTOBER
October is the treasurer of the year,
And all the months pay bounty to her store;
The fields and orchards still their tribute bear,
And fill her brimming coffers more and more.
But she, with youthful lavishness,
Spends all her wealth in gaudy dress,
And decks herself in garments bold
Of scarlet, purple, red, and gold.
She heedeth not how swift the hours fly,
But smiles and sings her happy life along;
She only sees above a shining sky;
She only hears the breezes' voice in song.
Her garments trail the woodlands through,
And gather pearls of early dew
That sparkle, till the roguish Sun
Creeps up and steals them every one.
But what cares she that jewels should be lost,
When all of Nature's bounteous wealth is hers?
Though princely fortunes may have been their cost,
Not one regret her calm demeanor stirs.
Whole-hearted, happy, careless, free,
She lives her life out joyously,
Nor cares when Frost stalks o'er her way
And turns her auburn locks to gray.
NO MUSIC GIGS THIS MONTH!
LUCCAS O Sophia C
A ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR OUR NEW STUDENTS in september!
FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA!