Citizen Songwriters

Most people don’t realise their creative potential.

Something I’ve come to realise since becoming a freelance community songwriting facilitator, is that people are inherently creative. But don’t always realise it… Yet, when you give people the excuse to create something uniquely theirs, the magic happens!

Last Thursday (16th May 2019) I met with a new group on a Citizen Songwriters course, in partnership with Middlesbrough Stronger Communities. It was one of a number I’ll be facilitating this summer and within the two hours, the group had found their collective voice and were singing “We are Boro” in different languages to a catchy tune that one of the participants had come up with.

Citizen Songwriters is a new initiative that grew out of a project I started last year called Stories of Sanctuary. bringing together people who have sought sanctuary from the civil war in Syria, with their local community. What’s unique about Citizen Songwriters is giving ordinary people – not necessarily with a music background – the excuse to create something uniquely theirs.

The song that emerges in each workshop is of course entirely dependent on the group and the stories they wish to share. My role is to facilitate and if I do my job well, it often involves leading from the back. I might be picking out chords that seem to fit the tune that the group have come up with. Or in some cases – like in Middlesbrough last week – someone from the group might know a few chords and I’ll encourage them to lay something down to give the group something to work with.

Stories of Sanctuary began in this way. And 9 months later, the participants were on the stage singing not only a song they’d learnt and practiced, but one they’d actually written themselves.

Citizen Songwriters is all about helping diverse groups explore their roots, understand different stories of belonging and allowing ordinary people realising their extraordinary creativity.

If you or your organisation would be interested in hosting a Citizen Songwriters course, please e-mail us here, or sign up to receive regular updates on upcoming courses and opportunities.

Simone For Stories of Sanctuary-1715
Stories of Sanctuary workshop in Durham, July 2018.

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