Written by Gina Sobel
Songwriting is an incredibly fun and accessible musical activity – it’s something that students of all levels, ages and instruments can participate in.
I find that it can be especially beneficial for young teens making their way through middle school, both as an emotional outlet and an opportunity to really find themselves as creative people and performers.
As we all know, middle school is a period of life that can be fraught with insecurity and a quest for self-understanding. A great way to manage and balance this is through creative arts, and songwriting fits in perfectly here. Students are able to musically express emotions and ideas that might be hard to just talk about. By taking the time to dig into their thoughts and feelings, things that once seemed insurmountable can suddenly become understandable. It can help students find real insight into the issues they face day to day, and give them confidence to express their emotions and thoughts, even if it is just in their lessons.
Songwriting gives students agency over their musical education.
I remember sometimes feeling cut-off from the styles and pieces I was encouraged to study at that age, and I think allowing students to explore and create their own music gives them more ownership over their studies, and perhaps a greater likelihood of continuing into college and adulthood. It’s also a great jumping off point for other creative pursuits, from poetry to film scoring to music production.
It doesn’t have to be so serious either. Songwriting can be silly, surreal and irreverent. It can help students try to understand other people’s perspectives. It can be a project that students work on in pairs or in groups to create something collaborative.
While songwriting is sometimes a very personal activity for many people, it can also open up opportunities for performance and, in the future, a presence within a public musical scene.
There are many performance showcases devoted to original music, and it can also be fun for students to record and release their original songs to share with family members and friends.
Yet another benefit is a greater commitment to an accompaniment instrument. While it can be a lot of fun to learn a favorite Lady Gaga or Ariana Grande song on guitar or piano, there’s something truly exciting about learning how to play your own song on your instrument. The two skills can be taught side by side – learning a new instrumental technique in the development of a brand new song.
Summer is almost here, and along with that, a profusion of camp options! Songwriting camps are a great place for new and young songwriters to try it out in a fun and lighthearted environment. One-on-one songwriting lessons are also readily available for a more individualized approach. Either way, it’s a great time of year to try out a new skill and have a little fun while doing it.