Following the huge success of a series of songwriting workshops from acclaimed musicians Boo Hewerdine and Findlay Napier, the pair have started a series of engaging classes that are open to all. Having launched earlier this year, the Bird on a Wire songwriting courses were originally funded by Creative Scotland. The courses gave musicians in Scotland, whose livelihoods had been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the opportunity to develop their skills. Findlay spoke with The Fountain about this wonderful opportunity that they are offering, and the momentum that these classes have harnessed.

TF: You are hosting a series of song-writing classes, this sounds exciting?

It is very exciting. We were overwhelmed by the number of people who applied for the first funded places so we’ve decided to launch an extra online evening class and two more week long online retreats.

TF: Are these for beginners, intermediates or otherwise, or a mix?

They are aimed at a mixture ability levels from complete beginner to advanced. There’s something for everyone. From people writing their first songs through to a professional looking for new ways of working or just some inspiration. We have found that the fresh perspective first time writers bring to the group often helps the more seasoned writers overcome writers block or jar them out of well worn writing patterns. 

TF: How did this idea come about?

Boo and I have run loads of songwriting workshops over the years. I actually attended one that Boo and Karine Polwart ran at an Arvon centre in Devon in 2013. On the long drive back to Scotland Karine suggested that we run our own songwriting retreat at Monachyle Mhor Creative Writing Centre near Inverness. I’ve been running week-long retreats there and the Glasgow Songwriting Festival weekend ever since. When Boo and I’s April course at Monachyle Mhor was cancelled due to Covid in 2020 we worked with the team there to put on a Zoom replacement. It was incredibly successful. The participants wrote wonderful songs and were more prolific than we’re used to, many of them finishing the week with close to ten new songs. 

TF: If you could receive songwriting classes from an idol in the industry, who would it be?

We’ve been spoiled lately because we have a special guest at each of the weeks. They perform some of their songs and talk about the stories behind them and their creative processes. It’s really interesting but we only have them for an hour or so. I’d love to spend more time working with them. So far we’ve had Beth Neilson Chapman, Karine Polwart, Julie Gold and Charlie Dore. 

To find out more about the Bird on a Wire courses click here.