Friday, 6 September 2013

Back to school??

Last night I went along to The Poetry School Autumn Launch Party at the Tea House Theatre in Vauxhall. During the first half of the evening six students from Tim Dooley's class Finding a Style read their poems, some of which were generated in his class, others not.  It was a very warm evening so in the break my friend and I decided to have a walk in the cooler air and then wandered back for the second half.  The first readings were by a poet who will be teaching at the School for the first time as part of the 'academy'. Following on was Hannah Lowe who taught a class last year.  She read from her collection Chick which I very much enjoyed and for me was the best poet of the night.

Having signed up with The Poetry School for an online feedback course starting later this month, this was a nice start to academic year. It will be nice to be pushed to write again because I've not done a great deal of poetry writing since July.

August was taken up with other things like decorating and there are still outstanding issues with that (if you read my other blog you can find out what I've been doing in 'my other life').  However, I have written a lot on my family tree and about my life growing up.  I've reached  around 30,000 words or so.  This isn't for publication but for passing on to my sons.  I think it is important because my family is small and all I know will soon be lost.

In addition to that I have written a short story (about 800 words), the idea of which had been rolling around in my head for a few days before I wrote it sitting in the garden one afternoon.  I've edited and typed it up and may submit it to a competition I have in mind.

I missed the deadline for OU Poets comments by two days, which also means I didn't get a poem submitted either but I did manage to send one to Areopagus and I've submitting to the Postcard Competition in The New Writer, so all is not lost!

My electric guitar 
The last time I wrote a proper post here I'd told you all that I had quit from the Songwriting course I was doing online.  Well, I had a think - calmed down and decided that I wanted to complete this course somehow and that I would not be a quitter! So I went back and managed to do the assignment for week 4 as some of what I was learning began to fall into place.  I did miss two lots peer evaluations which means a 20% deduction on both weeks but at the end of the course the lowest score is dropped.  Week 5 was a real learning curve.  Not only did I have to write a complete song but also sing it and upload it and use and submit worksheets.  I was away for three days which meant a heavy workload when I returned because week 5 was the equivalent of two weeks rolled into one.  I spent a whole day and evening filling in worksheets, writing and recording but I made it.  The final week was much lighter and all I had to do was re-record my song with slight adjustments for what is known as front or back heavy phrasing (a sort of body language for songs).

I have now completed the course, which was my main aim.  I know I didn't fully fulfil the criteria each time but I got some nice comments on my songs, along with a few of the other sort but when I evaluated other peoples I realised that I am not as bad as I thought.  Reading through the discussion forums it seemed some people were lucky and got some good things to review.  Some, though, were like me and got some awful things, incomplete lyrics, no link to a song so I couldn't hear what it sounded like and some of the lyrics left a lot to be desired, some quite unpleasant!  I hate marking people down and usually I would give a more positive result unless it was really bad.  The peer evaluations need to be re-thought by the staff because there were so many people complaining about it.  So I'm not that bothered on my grade (which I think I get at the end of next week) because some of it is based on other students ratings, I am just pleased I survived and I actually like my final song!

Out of all the evaluations I had to do I only came across one that really gave me hope!  This guy's song blew me away and I'd quite happily have listened to it time and time again.  His lyrics weren't brilliant but the melody and his singing just did it for me.  It was so nice to hear after all those others.  I gave him top marks.

I wouldn't do another songwriting course but I learned a lot from it and the teaching was excellent.  I have great admiration for proper songwriters now.  I'm sure not every one of those uses these methods but some do, those who take the time to match song to lyrics.  It was fascinating.  The tutor showed the process of a song being recorded - the first listening was just great but they went on to adjust it as I mentioned for the 'body language' and it was incredible!  So this tutor knows what he's talking about.

Anyway, I'm proud that I completed the course.  I did the best I could with the time I had and what I could understand. I eventually even managed to tackle using the basics of Audacity and Soundcloud without help. I may post a link here in a while to my song on Soundcloud if I'm brave enough so you can all have a laugh!

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