This is an archived article.

August 5, 2004

UW Extension offers new songwriting program

Songwriting is experience filtered through words, melody and rhythm. It can be poetry. It can be political tract. It can be history, religion, a statement of faith or the lack of it. Songwriting also is the latest academic offering at University of Washington Extension — with a little help from their friends.

This October, a trio of local celebrity songwriters will teac






To learn more


UW Extension will hold an informational meeting about its songwriting certificate program from 6 to 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10, at the Puget Sound Plaza Building, Suite 400, 1345 Fourth Ave., in downtown Seattle.  

h a new certificate program in songwriting at UW Extension, giving amateur musicians and shower singers a chance to write, produce and record their original tunes.

“This is really the most red-carpet way of learning about songwriting,” said Eric Weisbard, senior program manager in the education department of the Experience Music Project (EMP), who also serves on the advisory board for the songwriting program. “A program at the UW, with three songwriters of this stature, is definitely a new order of magnitude,” he said.

The program will be taught by Jon Auer, lead singer of the 90s power pop band The Posies and a member of the reunited Big Star; Christy McWilson, a respected solo artist and lead singer of the Seattle country band The Picketts; and Sean Nelson, associate editor of The Stranger weekly newspaper and an accomplished songwriter who leads the band Harvey Danger.

Classes will be held at EMP’s facility at Seattle Center. Students will have access to the rock & roll museum’s collection of interviews with legendary songwriters, as well as other archival materials and musical equipment.

Students will learn the fundamentals of songwriting, such as rhythm, melody, lyrics and structure. Much of this will come from analyzing how successful writers in different genres put together their compositions, and by studying the evolution of popular music over time. Instructors will also share their personal methods for writing lyrics, developing melodies and arranging instruments into a song.

“When you get into my course, it will be basically a writing course with music in it,” said McWilson, who is teaching the second course in the three-term program. “(Students) will experience the craft in songwriting, with a little guidance from people who do it for a living.”

Auer, who will teach the last course, on song production and recording, said he hopes to show how the process itself can be a creative tool.

“I find that the process of recording a song often becomes part of writing it as well. It’s like having a concrete document that becomes more objective than subjective, one that you can react to and then refine. It truly can be a revelatory experience,” Auer said.

This program has been approved by the UW School of Music and is overseen by an advisory board of notable musicians, music industry members and local scholars.

Students are not required to have formal musical training, for entrance into the program. But they must show an inclination for music and songwriting ability by submitting a letter explaining how they will express themselves musically, and a home recording of a song idea or a performance.

Tuition for this three-course program will be $1,605, plus registration and related fees.

For more information call 206-616-0673 or visit online at http://www.outreach.washington.edu/ext/certificates/sng/sng_gen.asp