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Telling Story Through Song

April 26 - 30

Evening Class: 9 p.m. - 11 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific)


“Songwriting is my way of channeling my feelings and my thoughts. Not just mine, but the things I see, the people I care about. My head would explode if I didn’t get some of that stuff out.”

—Dolly Parton

Think about your favorite songs—the ones you turn up whenever you hear them play. The songs that bring back memories of a time, a lover, a friend. You wake up singing them to yourself, and you wonder how they could have been written just for you.


These are the songs that settle in your soul. They leave you wanting more, hoping for more, believing in more. They have the power to heal a heart or start a movement.


And in our week-long course on Telling Story Through Song, these are the lyrics you’ll learn to write, from the first verse to the final chorus.

If you want to touch people with your words, do it through song.

Telling a story through song is a special kind of craft. It honors syllables and rhyme, counts upbeats and downbeats, merges lyricism with the science of sound.


And today, writing the perfect song and putting it out into the world is something you can do from your bedroom or while you’re walking down the street—wherever and whenever a line pops into your head that yields to another, and another, and yet another.


Whether you want to be the next YouTube sensation, move to Nashville or write a song for a friend’s wedding, Telling Story Through Song will walk you through the creative process with the help of some of the best singers and songwriters of our time.

  • Why do you want to write songs?

  • Who do you want to write them for?

  • How do you determine the story you want to tell?

  • How and why do songs affect our emotions?

  • How are poetry and lyrics different?

  • How does rhythm affect your word selection?

  • What’s a hook? A pickup? A downbeat?

  • How do you craft a song with internal rhymes?

  • How do you sell a song? Produce a demo? Find a singer?

  • What role do music videos play in the songwriting process?

  • What makes a song singable?

  • What makes it memorable—a song listeners can’t get out of their mind?


This week-long course is for anyone who wants to write songs, no matter the genre, from rock and roll to R&B to pop to country.


And if you love to write but don’t have a musical background, no problem. We’ll have musicians ready to work with your group, lifting your lyrics off the page and marrying them with melody. 

Telling Story Through Song is not theory—this is real-life application. By the end of the week, you and your small group of other songwriting students will write a song and have it performed for our first-ever Summit Idol gala!

During the week, you'll discover...

This course gives you hands-on instruction at its best.

Here’s how the week will unfold:

Monday, April 26th: Award-winning songwriter and producer Chris Boardman will cover the fundamentals of songwriting and the questions you need to ask yourself to get started, including writing prompts to unlock your creativity. He'll walk you line by line through a classic song, breaking down every choice of words, rhythm, and meaning to demonstrate the process of writing and revision. Before the evening's over, you’ll be assigned to a small group of students who will be your team for the week as you write a song of your own. We'll make sure each group has at least one team member with a musical background to help blend your original lyrics with melody.

Tuesday, April 27th: We’ll look at the architecture of two memorable songs, Til It Happens to You and Io Si, examining them from the perspective of hook, chorus, and verse. Joining us will be legendary songwriter Diane Warren, who, in collaboration with Lady Gaga and Laura Pausini, respectively, wrote the two Academy-nominated songs that we’ll be studying. Along with Diane will be Bonnie Greenberg, who was the music supervisor on the movies The Hunting Ground and The Life Ahead, the movies in which the two songs were featured. It should be a special evening of information, inspiration, and fun.

Wednesday, April 28th: Half of this evening's class session will be devoted to writing time for you and your team as you prepare your song for its Friday debut. To help with your collaboration, Chris Boardman will spend time with your group, giving you personalized, professional input. This is your chance to ask questions, get feedback, and smooth out any rough patches in your writing so you can make your song shine. The second half of the class will look at the business of songwriting—how to make money as a beginning songwriter or seasoned pro. Our award-winning music supervisor Robin Urdang will speak to the nuts and bolts of producing demos, finding talent, creating your own music channel, selling your work to recording artists, and more.

Thursday, April 29th: We'll repeat the evening format from Wednesday, focusing half the class on additional writing and workshopping time with your team. Once again, Chris will work with you, giving you final notes before your group produces a selfie of your song and submits it for Friday night's gala. The second half of the class is all about music videos and why they matter, led by celebrated music video producer Beth Broday. What role do videos play in the business and marketing of songwriting? And how can you think visually as you write?

Friday, April 30th: It’s time for our first-ever Summit Idol gala, featuring the selfies you and other student writing teams produced. This is the ultimate payoff of the course, in which you can hear the “singability” of your song and receive constructive feedback to make your next songs even better. This debut evening will be a true celebration, with friends and family invited. Stay tuned....we may have a surprise guest or two!


Fee: $395 (10 hours of instruction over five days)


9 to 11 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific)

Please note: Our classes are designed specifically for live participation, so your
attendance is important. If you need to miss a class for any reason, though, you’ll receive
a passcode-protected link to watch the recordings after the course is over.



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