There’s a new, free, 6 week songwriting course starting in June on FutureLearn, the Open University’s online learning platform. You can see the course here. It’s run by the University of Sheffield and aimed at anyone writing songs in English, anywhere in the world. If you sing in English, it’s worth a look, even if you’ve never thought of writing your own songs. Think of it as a course in word engineering.
When you sing, you’re handed music and words as a ready-made model. Writing a song forces you to do things in reverse, starting from scratch, weaving a structure of music and words. This course gives you a set of English lyrics (newly written by British poet Matt Black). You’ll build up a rhythm, chord structure and melody to suit Matt’s words and share the process with other songwriters as you go.
The University of Sheffield has drawn together a kaleidoscope of contributors, ranging from Shahbaz Hussein on tabla:
to folk-singer Martin Simpson:
It’s unusual to find a songwriting course that ranges so widely through the fields of music, with such a spread of contributors. It lasts 6 weeks and, once you’ve signed up to FutureLearn, you can start and finish whenever you want. It’s worth looking around their other courses too, especially now, while they’re all free!
If English isn’t your native language this course will be especially useful. Building a song will teach you a lot about the mechanics of the English language. You’ll hear how other students stitch English words into their music. You’ll have a chance to interact with students from around the world and you’ll be able to judge, by ear, what sounds good and what doesn’t.
If you’re learning English, the free British Council IELTS course here looks good. If you’re teaching English or learning any foreign language, the Understanding Language course here might pique your interest. If you’ve enjoyed any other FutureLearn courses, do let me know in the comments. They repeat every so often, so it’s worth knowing what good things might be coming up in the future.
© Sing Better English, 2015