Learn how to write songs that people want to hear


 -Make your songs stand out-even if you’ve never written a song before.

-Don’t be the droner at the open mic with repetitive chords rhyming ‘you’ and ‘true’ who’s worried people are finding their music painful.

-Learn a set of techniques to charge your creativity so you always know how to think about writing and how to complete your ideas.


zen noteHave you ever been lifted, comforted or inspired by a song or a performance? Wouldn’t you like to understand why it had that effect on you and how you can write music that could connect like that with other people?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Sometimes you find a shred of melody or a chord progression you like, but then get stuck and have no idea how to complete the song or even where to look for ideas. There are so many elements to a successful song, even one that is apparently simple, that it’s hard to know where to begin creating melodies, rhythms, lyrics, form and harmony that creates an engaging, interesting yet coherent piece. In one context, a technique might be perfect – but in another it could be boring or jarring.
I once wrote a chord progression I loved, but it took me three years to write the other section of the song and complete it, because I had no clue of how to organise the possibilities or where to look for compatible, complementary musical choices.


Waiting for inspiration’ is a sure fire way to be extremely slow to come up with anything and kill your creativity. Thinking that you if you can’t sit down and just come up with something fabulous straight away, you’re obviously not a song-writer is a completely inappropriate conclusion. ‘Wanting it to be perfect’, or wanting it to be perfect immediately, is a reason to not move forward.
How will you learn what you like or what you want to say if you don’t actually create enough material to develop your preferences and your song-writing voice? These approaches don’t work because you never go through a process of learning, exploration and development.
This course will give you a series of perspectives and techniques that you can work through to generate ideas, sort your ideas, refine them and hone them so the music and the lyrics are complementary. We’ll look at ways of writing melodies, hooks, chord progressions; how to create arrangements for solo performance and how to start developing ideas for bigger ensembles.   Whether you have songs you want to continue developing, or would like to start composing and songwriting for the first time, you will benefit from this.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You will have fresh eyes and ears to revisit any older songs you’ve already written. This course will  give you multiple compositional strategies, a deeper understanding and appreciation of the music you already enjoy, and tactics for getting ‘unstuck’ any time you’re blocked. You can get feedback on your work, help with any areas you are stuck, and the perfect opportunity to perform works in progress at the student jams.
Over the last fifteen years, I have helped many people dredge up their song-writing gold during residential song-writing retreats and ongoing coaching. Some of my students have recorded their own releases. I have co-written and written for over ten original release projects, including Candythief, Kirsten Adamson, S T E M S, Paul Hawkins and Thee Awkward Silences, Justin Sandercoe, & Stringjammer. I have also written for theatre and had contemporary classical compositions & songs featured in independent films. Material from all of my own original releases has been consistently played on BBC stations.


You’ll discover creativity you never knew you possessed-and learn how to keep cultivating it.

Your understanding of music will massively increase and so will your enjoyment of it.

You’ll get a way to express yourself without fear and develop your confidence.

Worried you have nothing to say or won’t be able to come up anything? You will learn some fail-safe techniques to connect with your creativity and bring your ideas to the surface of your mind.
Nervous about sharing your ideas with other people? Everyone wants to learn and improve, and no-one is here to judge anybody else.
Do you doubt whether creativity can be taught? This is common misconception. A lot of people imagine that if you can’t do something creative really well straight away, then you’re no good and you never will be. This is complete nonsense. Would you ever expect yourself to be able to play a sport perfectly with no instruction? Most people accept that the more you work on your fitness and technique in a sport, the better you get. Why should this skill be different? Think about cooking. When you know nothing about cooking, you have no idea where to start or which flavours go well together. When you’ve cooked many recipes and you understand how they come together, you can come up with your own combinations of ingredients. Master songwriters did not start out that way. Bob Dylan honed his craft for years before anyone took any notice of him. Most ‘overnight successes’ have been working, learning, collaborating and developing for a decade. You can definitely learn to think more creatively and to enjoy the process of developing a new way of looking at things.


What previous song-writing collaborators and students have said

Only connect logo “Diana de Cabarrus worked with a very creative but challenging bunch of OC members over two weeks, and managed to produce a whole EP of 6 new songs reflecting the lives and aspirations, as well as the musical tastes and influences, of the participants. We were hugely impressed with her dedication and skill in managing the group, as well as the high standard of professional excellence she maintained throughout and delivered in the recorded work. We are very keen to work with Diana again” Danny Kruger, CEO Only Connect London
Bob younger“Many thanks for your huge generosity and patience in helping to push forward my attempts in the musical creativity department. I have learnt an enormous amount over the last couple of months and I still have a huge amount of material to absorb and try and put into practice. Your teaching has given me a framework to work in and for that I really grateful. I love the idea of creation, of being able to make statements about things in a musical way. ” R. Younger                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
I’m delighted that Diana is teaching courses for songwriters. When she teaches, you cannot fail to juliannotice her infectious enthusiasm, great humour, understanding and, of course, knowledge of the subject – fashioned by many years of song writing, performing and teaching. You’ll be in good hands!’ Julian Marshall. Senior lecturer in songwriting ICMP, London.                                                    
There is literally nowhere else in Edinburgh where you can learn what I’ll be sharing, as I learned it from sources all over the world.
Now, what you need to do is email:  music at key to music north dot com to save your space for the March spots -which are very limited in number – or with any questions you might have.