Facebook promo for Jane Siberry's songwriting course
Music artists may have nowhere to go during the coronavirus shutdown, but Jane Siberry, at least, still has plenty to do.
Early into the pandemic the celebrated Canadian singer-songwriter came up with a Facebook project—Meditation Sundays.
“That’s 20 minutes of kick-ass silence!” jokes Siberry, and it certainly is that—but with her typically unique approach.
“During the ‘prologue’ I lead viewers through relaxation as if they’re a honey bee, giant squid, insect, etc.,” says Siberry, who studied music and microbiology at the University of Guelph prior to embarking on her singular music career. “It takes me about two hours to learn the different parts of the bodies and find interesting stories—and I love it!”
The rest of her week, then, is spent on two newer projects. The first, Song-Unfurl, is a series of intriguing, approximately 10-minute interactive songwriting sessions, where viewers really get a chance to intimately experience Siberry’s organic creative process. Via real-time comments, they can also provide instantaneous feedback and direction.
“I started with a song for Earth Day, and they gave me images for what it might look like to return the earth to health,” says Siberry, who also hosted a webinar that manifested “how amazing creativity is—and how wealthy musicians are on levels that really count.”
In an emailing, she noted that the webinar was also “pithy...just how I like it, in spiral form. As I conjectured, you took my ideas and came up with better ones. Thank you. I really like working in such a way. Take one step, look around, turn slightly, take the next step.”
But the webinar also gave a taste of her second new project: a three-week songwriting course starting Monday, entitled Song Garden and promoted on Facebook with the picture of an adorable dog sporting a black scarf—who, by the way, is not her dear sheep-herding trained Border Collie Gwyllym.
“He won’t wear a scarf!” Siberry explains, then states that her Song Garden mission is to cultivate “a collection of songs created for ’special occasions.’” She also looks to lead songwriters and wannabes in writing songs the same way that they tell favorite stories.
“Guidance is partly from me being a good editor, and partly from me encouraging people to write honestly, from the heart,” she continues. “The focus is ’songs for special occasions’ because I’ve heard so many horrible songs used at weddings!”
According to her website, Song Garden offers “a rollicking adventure in song-smithery!” presented by her and simpatico New York singer-songwriter Renée Cologne. Registrants will work in groups of three and meet with Siberry online two or three times a week for her review and feedback; they can also write with a single partner, or receive private solo instruction in finishing a song already in progress--or compose a first-ever song.
Interested non-songwriters can also enlist as a “fly on the wall” and observe the entire process.
The Song Garden course starts with an introductory meeting on Monday, so Siberry asks that participants sign up by tomorrow evening.
“We’ll need Sunday to create the groups and send out the information,” she says, grateful that “lots of ‘flies on the wall’” have already registered.
And while Siberry’s own songwriting often uses standard pop song formats as a take-off point for complicated but accessible structures, she’s quick to point out that, “yes, anyone can write a song—with guidance!”
Meanwhile, her recently launched YouTube “interactive detective series” P.I. Squid, in which she and her charming team of private detectives investigate “crimes against common sense,” seems to be taking a hiatus.
“I’ve become accustomed to the universe having different timing than me, so I imagine it will resonate another time,” she says before heading off to perform a private online concert.
Meditating with Jane Siberry