I’m getting ready to co-host a songwriting workshop with my buddy Eliot Kennedy in Sheffield England this month and it got me thinking about the value of workshops and retreats. For this blog I really am revisiting a songwriting workshop. One I know and love, the TSA Workshop held a few times a year outside of Malaga , Spain. I was there this month, part of my excuse for reposting this blog from 2016 or at least updating!
This pic is from the recent one in September 2019. Martin Sutton does an amazing job and this year I was among some fantastic mentors including Ed Hill who came along with me from Nashville, Chris Neil and the awesome force of nature that is publisher John Saunderson. It may have topped the first time I went (and the inspiration for this blog) but all I can say is…you need to go!! Doesn’t have to be this one but find one that looks like a good fit and put yourself out there!
No rain in Spain ...well once
September is a month I’ll remember for a long time to come. Most of my coaching is done from my home office in Nashville via Skype and my songwriting clients are all over the world at this point. This is something I’ve loved doing for over 5 years now but…I do miss seeing writers in person, writing more myself and traveling. This month I got my fix.
I was invited by Martin Sutton who runs The Songwriting Academy in the UK to come to Malaga, Spain and be one of 4 mentors at their annual songwriting retreat from Sept 10-17. I also got the chance through Martin and TSA to have a full day workshop in London on the 19th. This took me right up to my workshop in DC with Kye Fleming organized by our friend Tom Nichols and the Songwriting Association Of Washington. It felt like a mini tour!
In Malaga they had over 30 writers, mostly UK based but a few from Russia and even Norway. Had a chance to write with a different group each day and mentor two other groups per day. Martin, Dominic Roy King and Charlie Dore were the other mentors and some gifted folk. After dinner every group performs the song they wrote followed by pure fun and wine…lots of great food and wine:-)!
DC, London and Spain...the people are all the same...awesome!
These are songwriters investing in their passion, turning information into inspiration every day. This, along with the one day workshop in London and the one I held in DC a weeks later, just reminded me how amazing it is to write songs and to co-write with people for the pure buzz of it. It filled up my well and I got to experience the “non-music business “ part of the music business. People were gracious and giving as well as sponges for anything new. I’ve been to pro-writing camps and although they can be great for networking and a shot at getting a cut, they can lack the pure joy of these events. I got to share my life stories and hear some amazing ones but it comes back to the thing we all have in common, a love for songwriting and expression.
Got as much as I gave for sure and in that sense it was all one big co-writing experience. Although most attendees were close to my kids’ age (and a few who might have done the math and found I could be their Granddad) when writers get together in that kind of spirit nothing else matters but the music and I heard some great music everyday from the writers at the retreat to the ones in the West End of London to the beautiful city of Washington DC. I loved TSA and its people enough to become a mentor on their site to coach their members from time to time.
If you haven’t tried a writing camp or retreat, gone to a workshop in your town or in some far off place, I would really urge you to do it. We can live inside our heads as writers and need to much of the time but there’s no substitute for making music with other people, sharing stories and seeing how other writers go about writing a song. I made music but more importantly made some lifelong friends and filled up the well to overflowing. I'm vowing to do more in the coming year.
Here are just a few of the places you can do the same!
The Songwriting Academy ( Martin Sutton and his team are awesome at what they do and what they offer)
NSAI ( with branches in many cities they offer a great chance to meet other writers and though the Nashville chapter, lot’s of information)
The West Coast Songwriters Association ( I’ve done a few workshops for them as well as their big event in September. Ian and Joanie Crombie are the real deal)
BMI Workshops ( Great workshops with Jason Blume and they’ve hosted workshops for Kye Fleming and myself over the years)
ASCAP Workshops ( Their create music seminars in LA are great!)
Berklee College Of Music ( mainly online offerings but check for events)
Sweetwater Music (The worlds biggest internet music equipment provider and has great programs. I’ve been their guest for many over the years)
Songtown ( Clay Mills and Marty Dotson offer some events and great info with a focus on Nashville)
Eliot Kennedy and I are offering a brand new workshop featuring the chance to write with artists and for movies. We sold out quickly but will offer this again in the new year.
More and more songwriters are offering their own workshops including me from time to time so just Google Songwriting Workshops to find one near you. Judy Stakee offers cool retreats as does Chris Difford and Dominic KIng. Steve Earl even offers a camp once a year. I’ve seen camps pop up in Yosemite and even Marthas Vineyard. Take the leap and I promise, it will be life changing!
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I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for the fall. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at email@example.com
Check out this interview in the recent edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!
Mark Cawley is a hit songwriter who coaches other writers around the globe through his one-on-one, online service iDocoach.com. His songs have been on more than 16 million records with cuts ranging from Tina Turner to Wynonna Judd to The Spice Girls. His book, Song Journey, was released in April 2019 and went to #1 in 6 catagories on Amazon.Mark is a judge for the UK Songwriting Contest, Nashville Rising Star, Belmont University’s Commercial Music program, and West Coast Songwriter events. He’s also a contributing author to USA Songwriting and Songwriter Magazine, a sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, and a mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK. Born and raised in Syracuse, New York, Mark now resides in Nashville, Tennessee.