Oxford Songwriters Meetup Format

[Next Meetup for Oxford Songwriters is Wednesday 24 August 2016, 7.30-9.30pm]

If you are close enough to Oxford, you might want to drop into the Oxford Songwriters Meetup that I run. Here’s the outline for the regular 2 hour evening format (once a month, a different night each time):

1. Making connections

We begin each meeting with a short exercise to get us thinking. This can also give an opportunity to briefly meet the songwriter(s) sitting next to us.

2. Focus

There’s a different main topic for each meeting, started with a question, quotation or caption. Over the first few meetings, we’ll work through the main headings of the Oxford Songwriting Syllabus. The Syllabus is not sequential, so members can dip in and out from meeting to meeting. The Focus section of each meeting will usually be an interactive talk with illustrations, with opportunities for Questions & Answers (Q&A).

3. Short songwriting exercise 1

… to do individually, or in collaboration with one or two other people at the meeting.

4. Song Study (usually based on the evening’s Focus topic)

Any one of:

a) my analysis of an established song (with Q&A)

b) my analysis of a member’s song (with Q&A)

c) members’ collective analysis and discussion of an established song

d) members’ collective analysis and discussion of a member’s song


  • Members can submit a song for analysis at least two weeks in advance to the teacher, who will select one for the next meeting. Because the meetings will have a Focus topic, a song may be chosen on its relevance to the topic being covered in the meeting.
  • The song can be ‘work in progress’, and might be lyrics, melody or both; it could also be melody with chords. A chord sequence by itself is unlikely to give us enough to work with. When the meeting Focus is Arrangement, a full demo track can be submitted.
  • Submitted songs need to be communicated in a form that the teacher and members can work with. E.g. it must have a lyrics sheet, with chords over the words if we are working on both; notate the melody if possible; or supply a basic audio recording of the melody and chords, or lyrics plus melody. The teacher needs at least a week in advance a version of the song material that he can study and prepare for analysis before the meeting.
  • Members’ collective analysis (by open discussion) will be guided, and we’ll set some groundrules so that feedback for the songwriter is focused and constructive, and leaves the songwriter’s dignity and confidence intact.
5. Short songwriting exercise 2

… to do individually, or in collaboration with one or two other people at the meeting.

6. At the end

There is discussion at the end about ideas, formats and dates for future meetings, and the Focus topic for the next meeting.

7. Networking and socialising: after the 2 hour session.
General points
  • Bring a basic kit (pad for keeping notes, scrap paper, pen, pencil, eraser).
  • Ideas brainstormed from the group will be made into notes and posted on the Oxford Songwriting website as a resource.
  • As time goes on, we can vary formats, e.g. have a visiting speaker, showcase a number of members’ songs in one evening, meet for a whole Sunday.

If you’re interested, check out the Oxford Songwriters Meetup site. You can also read more description about it here.