Songwriting for Expression & Activism Workshop

Join us for a fantastic FREE online opportunity for 12-18 year olds to explore approaches to songwriting, including lyric development, melody, rhythm and harmony, guided by experienced songwriters.

Workshops take place using Zoom to connect on Wednesdays 28th October 2020, 4th November 2020, 11th November 2020 and 18th November 2020 from 5.30pm to 7pm. Download and find out more about Zoom here or contact us at:

Week 1 – Introduction to songwriting

Who are we? Who are you? What kind of music do you like?

What is a song? Do you know any songs that make you feel something, or that mean something to you?

James and Phil will each play one of their own songs and talk about it. We’ll look at a few examples of music that’s out there at the moment, concentrating on loop-based music that provides a ‘vehicle’ over which to write simple but effective songs or spoken word pieces. We’ll discuss rhyme schemes, line endings, pure rhymes and false rhymes.

Create some rhyming sentences about something that is important to you!

  • Melodise a lyric – turn a line of lyric into a rhythmic or tuneful phrase. We could take your examples and try them over different tempos and different rhythms.
  • Prepare work in progress for Week 2.

Week 2 – Song structure

Read out what you have to the class! Reviewing the work you have done and ‘finding the Hook’.

Structural components of songs

  • The Hook is most important! (Chorus, or refrain, or even a riff) – the component that the listener instantly remembers, but now looking at Song Structure.
  • Components such as verses, choruses, refrains, bridge or pre-chorus, middle eight, etc. We’ll show examples and have visual representation – a map of the dynamic contour.

Dynamics and different levels of intensity throughout the song
James and Phil will show you some examples of how they developed some of the group’s ideas. You will be encouraged to critique each other’s ideas.

Developing a critical vocabulary
Your preparation for Week 3 will be to create a song structure. The song must have two distinctly different sections.

Week 3 – Song structure #2

Listening to what you’ve done. Listening to what we’ve done. Reviewing the work completed so far.

Introducing structural variety and options

  • A deeper discussion about dynamics.
  • Performance technique, including volume, vocal tone, emotional delivery.
  • Chord sequences.

Performance and Alter Ego

  • Who do you want to be? A ‘hyper’ version of yourself.
  • Getting into character.
  • Some examples of artists’ alter egos

Week 4 – Reviewing and celebrating

Listening to what you’ve done, let’s see who you are as an artist. This can be as far away or as close to ‘you’ as you want it to be!  

  • Performing songs to each other, inviting critique and collaboration.
  • Learning to ‘let go’ of songs!
  • Discussion of stage presence and performance techniques. 
  • Collaborating with other artists. 
  • An overview of the music business from a songwriter’s perspective.


Phil Greenwood, MMC tutor and Programme Coordinator

Phil Greenwood is a songwriter published in Los Angeles and Nashville, and performs and records as his alter ego Nashville Phil, a guitar-toting country artiste from Oklahoma. He has an extensive repertoire of original material and is in demand as a collaborative lyricist. Phil has been a music leader for over thirty years, working nationally and internationally on youth-focused projects. He has created unique methods for mixed ability learning, particularly in songwriting and composition.

Singer-songwriter James Beau Barclay

James Beau Barclay is a prolific indie pop singer songwriter who writes, produces and releases all of his own music from his bedroom. Over the past year he has racked up over half a million streams from thousands of listeners around the world. Writing songs has helped James deal with life’s hardships and helped him express difficult emotions and he wants to help others create music to make a positive change in their lives, and also the world around them.

Success! You're on the list.