Connecting with Teens through Music

I was invited by IZRA to teach a song writing workshop at South Fremantle Senior High School today! I must admit I felt a bit nervous because I’d never run a song writing workshop before, let alone a high school song writing workshop! Then I remembered back to when I was 14 years old. It was half my lifetime ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

I remember how infatuated I was with a certain boy, who was three years older than me. He liked me too but one day he started avoiding me, and I had no idea why. I was so heartbroken that I became depressed. I thought maybe it was because I was fat, and decided not to eat anymore! I lost a lot of weight, became physically ill and was devastated. I remember crying all the time. I actually believed it was the end of the world! And, back then, it really was.

I remember the rebound guy, who cheated on me. I remember how betrayed I felt. I remembered breaking other people’s hearts. It was a very emotional year of ecstatic highs and depressing lows!! That was the year I began song writing. I had felt so much emotion that I had written songs because it was therapeutic! Songs about the guy who avoided me, the guy who cheated on me, about feeling depressed, and about feeling lost. I even remember winning the school talent show in year nine when I sang one of my original songs, beating the year 12 rock band and winning $100, which I spent on a video game!

It was a real privilege to share my song writing tips with the 14 year olds of today. First of all I showed them Axis of Awesome video, which proves you only need four chords to write a hit song. Then I played them my four chord song that I wrote in year nine about the guy who started avoiding me. I was amazed when they clapped afterward and asked me what happened to the guy after that! They were amazed when I told them I was actually very happily married to that same guy! Turns out he had been avoiding me because I was too young for him at the time and he didn’t know how to communicate that! All that heartbreak for nothing ha! Another student said they related to that song because the same thing had happened to them. I told them to write a song about it and not to let it get them down too much because one day they would find the right person for them at the right time and that they would actually look back on this and laugh, even if it felt like they were going to die, as I had previously felt!

Performing an original song at my high school graduation

Then I sang them my song 'Thin Line Between Love & Hate' about the rebound guy who cheated on me. I was amazed again when they applauded and asked how I found out about him cheating, and how I knew it was true and not just a rumour! Then one of the students said they could relate to that song because they had been cheated on. I told them to write a song about it. I assured them that although were heartbroken, they would be ok, and the right person would come along one day.

I showed them through songs from Pitch Perfect that four chord songs are just a verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, and that anyone who felt passionately about something could write a song. I also let them know that the best songwriters bare their souls and that if a listener feels what they are feeling, then they have written a good song! They were such beautiful students and I felt really privileged that they felt comfortable enough to open up to me, and I hope I was able to encourage them and inspire them through my music!