I spent the May Bank holiday in Melbourne, Derbyshire on a songwriting workshop with Edwina Hayes. Melbourne is a lovely little market town south of Derby and it was its festival this weekend. Edwina was booked to play that evening and ran a songwriting workshop in the afternoon. I’ve never attended one before, so I thought I would give it a try. My friend, Gerry – had attended a couple of years ago – and I was intrigued, and of course back then – intimidated. After all, I wasn’t writing anything – so the thought of being put on the spot was off-putting. Now after just over a year of songwriting under my belt, and debut CD out, I was feeling a tad more confident. A couple of weekends ago I was on a hugely enjoyable singing weekend with the Unthanks in Northumberland – and that was a huge confidence boost. Although the main part of the event was singing in a group and a private, boutique concert – there was a chance to sing individually – which I took advantage of. I figured if I could sing my own songs to the room of new people and the Unthanks band – I could do anything.

Anyway, back to the workshop. Although I brought a guitar – it wasn’t a pre-requisite, as this was a pen-and-paper exercise, and we just read our creations. That was interesting because that isn’t usually how I write my songs – usually it’s music first, a long period of la-la-la until such time as put words down. So it was good to “let go” and just have the pen and paper. That said I couldn’t resist ducking out of the session with an instrument to see how it would scan. I had music already and just one line for the start of a song, I’m calling “This song’s for you”. So the important thing for me – was the activity did have a measurable output. I have a new song!

I think if anything a workshop like this ‘forces’ to put other distractions aside and just write. Even if you don’t get a song out of the process – simply doing that is a good thing. Also, I realised that I often overpack my songs with too many words, phrases and ideas. It kind of becomes stuffed with everything – rather than allowing a single phrase or idea to act as the jumping-off point. I did lean on some existing bits I had on my phone, but that was more about slotting them into place – as the vast bulk of the song is new.

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon with the delightful and supportive company. Well worth the money, as who can put a price on a new song?