“Everything has been said and felt and done before – but not by you. You are the only one who can make your art, who can love in your unique way. So do it.” Maggie Smith in Keep Moving (2020)
Click on the “play” arrow in the bar below to listen to the song “Woodpecker”, by Jenny Voelker.
Why I Write Songs
Submitted by Jenny Voelker, Community Member and Contributing Writer
I wrote my first song in November 2020 in a Songwriting 101 class taught by Chloe Brisson through the Upper Valley Music Center (UVMC). I never identified as a singer and had never written songs before. But I had been taking Patricia Norton’s Pocket Songs class, also through UVMC. Patricia’s belief that singing is not reserved for a chosen few, but open to ALL human beings emboldened me to try songwriting and find my voice. The fact these classes were on Zoom also made them more approachable to me. If worst came to worst, I knew I could always turn off my camera or log off!
Fast forward seven months and I’ve written 19 songs to date. They have become a kind of time capsule summing up my life during this pandemic. Even after Covid is no longer spoken about, I see myself songwriting. It’s just something I’ll do, not necessarily as a means to an end, but as an end in and of itself. I’ve written about my hopes, fears, parenting, sacred moments, life changes, political discourse, nature, love, you name it.
Why do I write music?
I pay more attention to what moves me in my daily life. Whatever carries energy is worth exploring.
I get to express truthful sentiments to loved ones in a way that is much more comfortable to deliver and comfortable to receive. My “Ode to Mom” shared loving truths that I believe “landed” better in melody.
I write songs that I need to hear. I imagine singing to my subconscious, as if I’m changing beliefs that may not be serving me anymore.
Songwriting is the freest form of writing I’ve done. Words like “future” and “you” and that normally don’t rhyme are heard as rhymes in songs. Words can be pronounced differently, emphasizing the “wrong” syllable for rhythmic purposes. Grammar rules can bend. And when words don’t suffice, musical chords can convey the message instead.
I have yet to meet a songwriter I don’t like. My guitar teacher Josh Hall and friend Paolo Bentivoglio have been a nice music community for me these past few months. There’s a natural connection amongst people who appreciate creative musical expression, beautiful things, self discovery, and vulnerability. They are “in tune” (pun intended).
Singer-songwriters claim to write songs in a multitude of ways. For me, I start with a feeling and then free write to capture words and phrases that describe that feeling. Then looking at the rhythm in my lyrics, I play with possible melodies. Making a song that accurately sums up what’s inside you feels amazing. It’s your truth and you’ve been heard.
Jenny Voelker Community member and contributing writer
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