Immerse yourself in the art of songwriting. Discover effective songwriting techniques by exploring melody, rhythm, harmony, lyrics, and the latest technology. Under the direction of Bonnie Hayes, chair of Berklee’s Songwriting Department, you will receive expert support and feedback on your original material from veteran songwriters and industry professionals. Learn about the tools you need to place your songs in TV and film, and find new strategies to start earning royalties.
2019 Program Information
|Program length:||Five days|
|Program dates:||Monday, June 24–Friday, June 28, 2019|
|Registration fee:||$50 (nonrefundable)|
|Move in:||June 24, 2019, between 9:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.|
|Move out by:||June 28, 2019, by 7:00 p.m.|
|Age range:||15 years and older|
A Completed Song (optional)
You may want to showcase a work during your time at the Songwriting Workshop. To do so, you must either obtain a CD recording or prepare a performance. Typed lyrics or a lead sheet are also necessary to supplement a completed song. A lead sheet consists of the melody transcribed on staff paper, with the lyrics below, and the chord symbols above the melody.
Along with your instrument, please bring any accessories (capo, tuner, strap, etc.) you may wish to have with you and label them with your name and phone number.
Be sure to bring a notebook or some other way to save your ideas—you will be having lots of them!
You are permitted to bring laptops, computers, tablets, etc., although it is not required. Wireless internet and electrical outlet plugs are provided throughout the campus.Please keep in mind that it is your responsibility to keep your items safe. Berklee is not responsible for the loss of these items.
Please use the Information for Registered Students page as a reference to the 2018 program schedule. 2019 schedule details will become available closer to the start of the program.
At the workshop, you will participate in several core classes throughout the week.
- Songwriting Class: taught by our renowned Songwriting Department, you will explore song form, melody, lyrics, and chord progressions.
- Mentoring Group: mentors are handpicked Berklee alumni who have been chosen for their talent, their dedication to craft, and their ability to give compassionate and specific feedback while helping orient students to their first Berklee experience.
- Visiting Artist Presentation: every year, we ask visiting artists to share their experiences in the industry as songwriters. Topics range from songwriting techniques and improving your artistry to business tips and career advice.
Electives are varied and designed to provide information for songwriters of all experience levels. Students are required to take three electives and may choose to take up to three additional electives. Some elective options meet more than once. Two-day electives are considered two electives and three-day electives are considered three electives.
Writer Camp (two electives): Have you noticed that there are usually several writers and producers on top-selling hits? This workshop will mimic the experience of professional songwriters and producers who want to work in teams to create pop songs. You will be assigned the role of either songwriter or producer, and should have some experience with collaboration.
Students wishing to participate as a producer must apply to this track by submitting a link to a song they've created and provide at least one screenshot of their digital audio workstation (DAW) session. Only students who are registered for the program and have paid in full will be reviewed for consideration. The deadline to apply is Monday, June 10, 2019. To apply for this track as a producer, please submit this form.
Singer-Songwriter Workshop (one elective): In this small group workshop, you’ll play your songs for Songwriting Department faculty members as well as peers, getting feedback on your performance and the song(s). Please bring a typed or neatly written lyric sheet for your song(s). You may perform solo, use a recorded track, sing a capella, or play an unfinished song.
Working with a Band (three electives): in this three-day elective, songwriters who want a chance to work with a band learn how to check their key, create an arrangement, make an arrangement chart, and play their song with high-level Berklee students who can help them get the sound they want.
Introduction to Production for Songwriters (two electives): Using recording software to build song demos is a crucial step to getting your music into the world. This two-day, hour-and-a-half workshop will cover vocal recording processes and why they're important, drum programming, virtual instruments, MIDI, and critical listening. Please note that this elective may conflict with open mic times.
DIY Indie Singer-Songwriter (two electives): Popular indie legend Melissa Ferrick covers the basics of being a touring solo singer-songwriter. Topics for this elective include social netowrking, making your record, "to band or not to band," regional touring, sound checks, house concerts, and more.
Write a Song in 90 Minutes (one elective): Tired of talking about writing songs? In this workshop, you will write a song in class, either independently or with a partner. Be prepared to have some a-ha moments and songwriting breakthroughs.
Stage Performance Workshop (one elective): In this workshop, you will work on the concepts of performance as it relates to songwriting, developing answers to questions such as the following: Who is your audience? What do you want to convey to them, and how can you do that? Should you perform solo or with a band? What instrumentation works best? What do you need to be a great performer?
Hip-Hop Songwriting (one elective): In this class, you will learn how to write effective hip-hop songs by studying the lyrical and compositional elements involved. The class will listen to current hip-hop songs, analyze different hook structures, and perform in-class writing and improvising exercises.
Topline Writing for Pop, R&B, and EDM (one elective): You don't always have to sit behind a piano or a guitar to write a song. Many of the biggest songs these days are written using a technique called toplining. In this workshop, you will learn how to write a song—possibly a hit song—using this technique.
Vocal Techniques for Songwriters (one elective): whether you want to write more natural melodies, perform your demos, or sing background vocals in a band, this is a chance for non-vocalist songwriters to get some help with your vocal style and technique.
Guitar Style for Songwriters (one elective): This class will focus on guitar accompaniment styles, using a capo, open-tuning techniques, and other guitar writing skills in this beginning-to-intermediate class. Please note: students choosing this elective are required to bring their guitars with them to the program.
Keyboard Styles for Songwriters (one elective): this intermediate-level class will focus on keyboard accompaniment styles, sounds and patches, reharmonization, and other keyboard writing techniques.
Songwriting for Film and TV (one elective): Licensing songs for film and television provides a promotional launching pad (as well as a potentially lucrative income stream). This course will provide an overview of this field, including composing, music supervisors, libraries, and what you need to get started.
Improvisation Workshop (one elective): In this class, we will use free word association, vocalize melodic ideas, make up rhythms on the spot, and use any chords we choose to create music in the moment. You'll come away from this class with a new sense of artistic freedom, and maybe even a new song.
Mailbox Money: Making a Living with Your Music (one elective): How do songwriters earn money? This class will give an overview of performance royalties, mechanical royalties, publishing versus writing income, licenses and syncs, publishing deals, and other critical information.
Marketing and Media for Songwriters (one elective): Need to start building your fan base? This class will cover the use of social media artist data on accounts like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter; explore email programs like Fanbridge; and discover mobile tools such as Mobase and Topspin to expand and engage your audience.
Intermediate/Advanced Harmony for Songwriters (two electives): for students interested in learning to use more advanced harmonic techniques, this class will cover modes, modal interchange, blues-related tonalities, and secondary dominants and substitutions.
Contemporary Musical Theater Writing (one elective): Do you know every song in Hamilton, Dogfight, West Side Story, and Oklahoma? Ever think about writing your own musical? In this class, you can get an introduction to writing for musical theater.
Members of Berklee's talented and experienced Songwriting Department will teach the classes and workshops in this program. Each day will feature clinics with Berklee songwriting faculty or guest clinicians.
Past guest clinicians have included hit songwriters such as Paula Cole, Melissa Ferrick, Hugh Prestwood, and Phil Galdston; singer-songwriters Beth Nielsen Chapman and Marshall Crenshaw; and American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers executive vice president for creative services John Titta. In addition to day clinics, singer-songwriters who, in prior years, have presented concerts in the evening exclusively for program participants include Ellis Paul, Jennifer Kimball, Patty Larkin, Gary Nicholson, and Livingston Taylor.
The Songwriting Workshop summer faculty includes:
- Bonnie Hayes, Program Director
Faculty subject to change