Monday, July 20, 2015

Music Education Monday: Songwriting with Jason Robert Brown, and more

This week's St. Louis Cabaret Conference includes a number of workshops and master classes presented by visiting artists, some of whom also will be performing in public concerts later in the week.

One of those visitors is Tony Award winning Broadway songwriter, singer and pianist Jason Robert Brown (pictured), best known for his scores for the musicals Parade, The Last Five Years, The Bridges of Madison County, and others.

Registration for the educational part of the conference is closed - concert tickets are still on sale here - but thanks to a video produced by The Dramatists Guild of America, you can see a master class in songwriting from Brown for free via the embedded YouTube player below.

Note that though a lot of what he says pertains to songs with lyrics, and more specifically Broadway songs, much of it also can be applied to instrumental compositions. And from a jazz musician's perspective, it's worth remembering that Broadway shows were the original sources for much of what has come to be known as "The Great American Songbook," and a better understanding of their construction can have plenty of benefits for instrumentalists and vocalists alike.

If you're looking for more on the craft, the website Coursera has a free online course in songwriting, taught by Berklee College of Music professor Pat Pattison. The class has six units, totaling nearly 15 hours of instruction, and to access the material, all you have to do is create a free Coursera account (if you don't already have one) and sign up.

Some other potentially useful resources include the websites of the magazines American Songwriter and Performing Songwriter, which both have plenty of free content, as does the songwriter's website Muse's Muse once you drill down into its old-school user interface.

Also worth a look, though suffering from a bit of age-related linkrot, are the lists of songwriter resources compiled by the promotion company Taxi and the website; and "50 Great Lyric Writing Resources," from the online tutorial site TutsPlus.

You can see the video of Jason Robert Brown after the jump...

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