Songwriting course gives students a voice

Seth Engle, Editor-in-Chief

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Originally labeled as solely a guitar course, OPRF’s songwriting class gives students the tools to write and create music on their own. 

“I want to give (students) the tools to be able to sit down and say “I feel like writing a song today,” and have no other inspiration other then “I’m bored and I want to write a song,” says teacher Andrew Fredrickson. “To be able to help (students) hone their own craft and maybe give them some ideas of ways to spark creativity within themselves, that’s kind of my goal.”

Like many of the students who enroll in his class, Fredrickson began playing guitar and writing music in high school. Since then he has done work outside of school as an audio and mixing engineer, and has released a number of albums under his own name and with bands as a musical artist.

With Fredrickson leading the charge, students are assigned projects and exercises throughout the semester in order to prep them for their final project: releasing a fully produced song on soundcloud. 

“We wrote little snippets of songs and even wrote a full one but never released it,” said sophomore Charles Dear, who’s song “Back For More” leads off the “OPRF Sound Vol. I” album on Soundcloud. “We learned a little bit of music theory and a little bit of piano and guitar. And before we knew it we started working on the final project.”

Although on the surface, writing, producing, and releasing only one three to five minute song may sound simple, the process takes a strenuous six to eight weeks to accomplish. 

“I was a bit surprised when he said the final project would take eight weeks,” said Dear. “First we wrote lyrics, then started editing them, and then producer started getting to work.”

One obstacle that students may face will be working with a producer in a notes section included in the music producing software, Logic Pro, instead of working with them face to face. 

For Dear, however, he was able to learn a new tool by working with his producer from long distance. “To start off it was a little hard because we may have had different interests for what we wanted the song to look like,” said Dear. “But it really helped my ability to compromise with someone.”

For twins Holly and Sadie Sherman, working as a duo offered a new challenge to creating a song. “We got frustrated with each other a lot,” said Holly. “But because we have similar voice sounds, we blended well together.” 

With Holly, who previously had experience in music, writing the lyrics and Sadie, a first-time recording artist, creating the track, the twins were able to put their contrasting ideas together to make their song, “Mirror”: listed as the seventh of the 11 tracks included in the songwriting class’ album. “We had different ideas and we put them together, which was cool,” said Sadie.

“This class explores so many different things. You can be as creative as possible and it’s very independent,” says Holly. “Making music is a good way to express how you’re feeling and express yourself. It can help with coping with your emotions, especially in your teenage years.” 

Along with the many positives to writing and creating music, Fredrickson notes that the class also fulfills the fine art requirement for graduation, and if those really serious about creating music you should take the one semester sound production course with John Condne. 

“This is a class that allows individuals to shine and to get their own voice out there,” says Fredrickson. “It has to do with music that people enjoy too, and being able to express themselves fully through music.”