How my songwriting course taught me to HUG & KISS

  • IMG-20200228-WA0015Disclaimer : The following post refers to my personal experience during enrollment at the Cape Town School of Songwriting. This is not a paid partnership and has been written from my perspective as an enrolled student of the school’s 8 week songwriting course ( Jan 2020 – March 2020).
  • I wish to celebrate, acknowledge and thank everyone who was involved for  what I have learned, who I was fortunate enough to work and interact with and honour the connections I made within this new community of singers, songwriters, producers, performing artists and colleagues. I have been welcomed into this new community with open hearts thanks to Cape Town School of Songwriting, my fellow songwriters of 2020 and the lovely Clive and Elaine.

 

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It reads:  To Estelle – much inspiration- warmest wishes on your voyage of discovery. – Clive – April 2012

 

It’s 10:45 a.m in Cape Town, South Africa today and the sun is out. Despite it being day 15 of our national 21 day lock-down, I had something to look forward to this morning when I woke up. I could write and practice my demo song that I had successfully written and co- composed with my school director, Clive.

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Clive and I during our first one on one workshop. His tattoo that says: Let it Rock and Roll and one of his guitars. We co- composed my beautiful song: Liefling 1443 with three chords and the truth. 

 

8 years ago, I was gifted this book as  birthday gift ( my birthday is on 24th of April ) and for 7 years this book has travelled with me from South Africa, to Saudi, then to China. After that,  I took it with me to Colombia, where I finally read it from cover to cover and when I unexpectedly returned to South Africa, I was compelled to take a shot at my dream of becoming and being a certified songwriter.

This book has now brought me full circle and right back to South Africa again. One of my biggest dreams and goals has always been to do THIS songwriting course and I did not want to do it online nor take up a free course. It was my desire to receive the knowledge directly from the source.

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7 years, 3 continents, 1 dream kept alive.

 

 

Clive signing Daniel's book
Clive helping me to pay it forward with my second copy of his book that is included in the course. I decided to gift it to one of my friends, Daniel from Ecuador who is also a musician.
Daniel's book edited
The human connection at its best. Universal bonds being built through songwriting. Thanks Clive.

Clive’s book Cracking the songwriting code awakened a side of me that has been dormant for  more than 15 years. I had to quit private piano lessons as a teenager, because of circumstances that were out of my control. However that didn’t deter me from music.

It made me love it more. I became the observer. The humble listener and the interpreter of different genres of music that made me feel alive inside. Music from Africa, South America, Europe and my own heart was starting to form new notes in my mind. I would start to whistle random melodies while walking outside or think back to my childhood when I used to sing in the choir.

I remembered how much exposure I had already had and all I needed to do was to tap into that once again.This time just with more knowledge and better structure and guidance.Clive’s approach to songwriting has reset my being. It has helped me return to music and also get myself back on track.

music plant
Planting seeds of music in every home’s heart.

I already have the musical background and training. I just need to relearn what I once knew in due time. I am of no shortage of words, but what I needed most was guidance with regards to the structure of  songs. Unlike poetry or academic writing, one does not need to write thousands of words in order to craft a powerful song. You simply need to KISS. Keep IT Simple in Structure.

What are the 3 key elements of a song ? It’s simple. They are words, music and structure. – Clive

 

The beatles
The Beatles were known for their simplistic yet powerful songwriting. If they could do it, so can I!

I have been writing prolifically since the age of 13. I have written thousands upon thousands of poems and personal letters and cards in various languages and it’s something that I used to use as means of  expressing myself with and to others.

I was a shy and withdrawn child but I always had so many things to say. When I wanted to speak freely, many things would not come out as beautifully and powerfully as I wanted it to. When I wrote, the words would free flow from me onto the pages of my journals, scrap pieces of paper, post – it notes, textbooks, dictionaries and now my walls.

Yes! No kidding! I started writing on the walls of my living spaces. It helps me to problem solve and center myself whenever I feel anxious or depressed.

Songwriting HUGS me in a way that no other medium does. It HEALS, UPLIFTS and GROUNDS my heart and soul.

Not everyone appreciated or compensated me for my gift of writing in the past. Many times when people requested that I  write for people who I might not have personally known or might have known through mutual acquaintances they wanted me to do it for free. I tried setting up something formal so that I could write customized greeting cards for others, but that didn’t come to fruition back then.

I became very  disheartened and discouraged. Although I found great pleasure in writing soulful, honest  and emotive pieces for others, they didn’t seem to appreciate my time and efforts and I stopped writing for many years because of that. I know now that rejection is redirection and that my gift can and will make room for me. I don’t need to conform or chop and change it to fit the masses.  I can simply be massively me with my writing.

All of us
My lovely classmates who were so inspiring, warm, loving, welcoming and kind.
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Break time in the kitchen with some snacks and drinks. Songwriters 2020

 

I also know that becoming a certified songwriter this year, will make it possible for me to earn a lucrative stream of income by doing something that I love. And in doing so, it’s a win for one and a win for all. I can continue spreading my positive messages of motivation and grow as an emerging artist and I know that I will have the opportunity to write for other established artists as well, all thanks to songwriting.

 

Elvis and classroom
Our classroom where all the magic and creativity happens. Laughter, love, insight, knowledge and the human connection is taught, shared and embraced  here.

Hard work, patience, dedication, flexibility, focus and diligence plays a major role for me in all that I do. And songwriting has been teaching me that as well. I am so grateful to Clive as my director for guiding me and leading me with his many years of experience in the music industry and as a songwriter himself.

During our first workshop, he helped me to see that keeping things simple is what makes it powerful and lasting. And during our second workshop, where I recorded my demo ( still to be finalized as it was cut short because of lock down) he mentioned that I in fact had a singing voice and simply needed some voice training and to work on my confidence.

He also noted that my musicality was still in tact.  I rap in my song so timing is crucial. Besides the nerves, I really enjoyed that session and  I felt really proud of myself. I was able to reach that stage of accomplishment and growth in a matter of 5 weeks.

7 years. 3 continents. 1 dream kept alive. Thanks Clive

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This little book has time traveled for seven years, across three continents and is now home.

What I know now is that I was writing for the wrong audience for far too long. I would go through years of not writing.  I would always stop because I listened to or looked for the opinions and approval of others and I realized that maybe they had no idea how brilliant and creative I was then and how they were receiving a gift that can not be bought for nothing, until now.

At first I was enraged and confused but as I aged and matured I realized my gift of writing is mine. It’s my intellectual property and there are laws and rules that protect my ideas, concepts and writing and by following the right steps, I can write and earn money through my gift, just like everyone else who has their own unique gift.

 

blossom tree
The blossoms inviting us to flourish as musicians and songwriters. Mother nature it her best.

Songwriting has ALWAYS been one of my sacred passions. I say sacred and not secret because it’s not about writing a few catchy hooks or obscure lyrics. I believe music runs in my veins. My musicality is innate, it simply needs to be awakened and crafted and practiced and this is how songwriting has reignited my love for music again. My late grandfather who I never met was a piano player and teacher. I would like to believe that there’s some part of him in me that gives me my passion for music.

 

The environment that you are in also aids in the songwriting process. Nothing beats the beauty and purity of nature, in my opinion. Every week I would meditate in the garden and give thanks for our amazing school and process of gaining new skills, sharing jam sessions and just enjoying the process.

Since 2012. Clive’s book has travelled with me from South Africa, to Saudi Arabia, back to South Africa, then to China then straight to Colombia. I would read it, then forget about it, because life happened. I would be visiting in South Africa but not have enough time to enroll in the course or not have the money or the means and so I missed each year until 2020.

smiling buddha with stacked stones
Songwriting teaches us to use our heads, hearts and hands.

I started re-reading this book in 2019 while I was still in Colombia and I decided to check out the website and see if I would be able to do it when I return home.

Now, keep in mind. My homecoming was not planned or expected. Things out of my control brought me back to South Africa late last year.This is where most of my friends, family and support system is and I even though I didn’t know my up from my down, my heart yearned to do this songwriting course.

When I was accepted, I knew that this was the best unplanned but productively intended homecoming to myself. It is something my heart and soul desperately needed. It was a new avenue for my writing, it would aid in my transition from teaching to writing and it would spark my creativity in  a way that only works when you are with other creatives and Clive is just that according to my observations.

He has  a way of wowing you with his wisdom and passion that one can’t help to sit at his feet. Well, that is how I express it when I am the student, listening diligently and attentively to my new teacher and respected director.

love mirror
” there’s a song in every heart”. Therefore, I put my heart into my songwriting.
Clive and Elaine
Clive, our school director, mentor, songwriter -guide and my personal inspiration coach. Elaine, the hostess with the most hugs and smiles. Dankie vir alles Elaine en Clive

I am happy to write this post and I dedicate it to the Cape Town School of Songwriting as an entity and vehicle of keeping the music in my heart alive.  A sincere thanks to Clive and Elaine who always do their best and have a level of professionalism and delivery of service that is unprecedented.

I also wish to dedicate this post to each and every one of my classmates. I have enjoyed meeting you and learning something from everyone. I know that our songs might not all be recorded or finalized yet, but I hope this inspires you today to keep writing, keep singing, keep practicing and keep being true to the amazing singer -songwriters that you all are.

I look forward to our graduation and certificate ceremony and I hope to be as confident and as well sung as all of you already are. Thank you for the lifts to and fro, the hugs and smiles and genuine interest in me, Estelle from Stellenbosch who has not been herself for a very long time, but can fully express herself now through our vehicle of music.

I hope that we will be able to collaborate one day if the opportunities arise for us to do so and to every other Cape Town School of Songwriting singer- songwriter who came before and will come after me, it’s worth it! Challenge yourself, overstep your own boundaries, do it scared, do it off beat, sing off tune but don’t tune out your musical talents.

Songwriting is doing so much for my personal development right now that I can’t contain myself because of all the creativity that I am currently blessed with and I hope all of you appreciate yourselves, love yourselves, accept yourselves and continue to motivate others like me who still have a long way to go. There’s a time for everything and today it’s time to sing everyone’s praises.

With Love, Light and a joyful song in my heart,

Keep glowing !

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