Phil Elverum Is Teaching an Online Class on Songwriting

Topics include "should you sing in a fake British accent?" and "what even is music?"

BY Alex HudsonPublished Oct 5, 2022

Want to learn songwriting from Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie and the Microphones? You'll have your chance this fall, since Elverum is hosting a four-class online songwriting workshop.

The class is called Music with Voice, and it's being presented through the music education collective School of Song. Elverum will teach classes over Zoom on four consecutive Sundays: October 30, November 6, November 13 and November 20. There will be two lectures (with a live Q&A) each day, to accommodate people in different time zones, and recorded lectures will be available after the fact.

Elverum described his plan for the class in a statement, promising to cover topics like "should you sing in a fake British accent?" and "what even is music?" His statement is as follows:

Anyone who would call themselves a "songwriter'" s just saying that they're deliberately trying to get better at doing the thing that everyone is already doing, to pry open the access to that deep mine of ideas, to smooth the raw mess into something fine, to make a vivid glowing berry. We all have it, this mine, but it takes effort and focus to bring these things forth in their most powerful form.
In this class I'll try to help all of this happen. It starts with creating a space, an actual workspace but also a mind space. In this space we can notice what comes up on its own. If we do it right it will be messy and embarrassing. From this mess we'll work on recognizing what floats, what could grow. We'll nourish it and gently hone it into something sharp and strong, a song that works really well. Then it might seem clear what to do with it. How to play it, what's its voice?, how to clothe it in sounds. The whole time I'll be giving examples of ideas to consider from my own work and the work of others throughout history. I'm no expert so I'll be speaking from my own self-taught perspective, giving my personal experience and opinion. We'll see where it goes.
Some topics to be covered:
- starting from scratch, change your life so that songs will come
- recognizing the door, grabbing useful ideas
- what even is music? the spectrum of voices
- should you sing in a fake British accent?
- blank listening, production and maintaining an idiot's ear

The class costs $120 USD, with a 20 percent discount for those who sign up with a friend. The deadline to sign up is October 23. Classes will include homework assignments to write songs using techniques from the lecture, song-sharing sessions with peer review, and an hour of live Q&A with Elverum.

The workshop is available to sign up for here.

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