Writing song lyrics together is ‘inspiring and creative’

“It's important to be open and to take the musical tastes of your team members into account”, says Catherina Schorling from Germany about her participation in the three-day International Writers Camp at Inholland Haarlem in early November. Students from the Conservatorium Haarlem and twelve other European academies of music presented ‘radio-ready’ songs to leading music publishers and labels such as BMG Talpa Music, Warner Chappel and Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

A total of 78 conservatory students, divided into 29 teams, took on the challenge of composing and recording a ‘track’ in three days. They included Catherina, a student from the Hochschule der populären Künste (HDPK) in Berlin who decided to attend the International Writers Camp at the last minute. “The school asked if I wanted to stand in for a fellow student. I was keen on the idea right away! For me, it's a great opportunity to gain inspiration as I haven't yet found a specific style of music which really suits me.” Alongside Catherina, students from countries such as Belgium, Sweden, Norway and the UK signed up too. Catherina: “I made a lot of new friends. On the first day, I already got to know a lot of international students.”

‘A great learning process’
“There is an inspiring atmosphere, with a lot of creativity. That's why I'm taking part again”, says conservatory student Maartje Keijzer, who regards the International Writers Camp as a ‘great learning process’. According to the fourth-year student, the biggest challenge lies in managing the qualities of the various team members. “There is often a natural click, but in some cases that just doesn't happen. You still need to make the most of things in order to achieve a good result.”

Degree programme serves as a guideline
The Haarlem student said that many aspects of her degree programme came up in the assignments. “The songwriting course is very useful when writing lyrics, but the collaboration during the band lessons also comes in handy.” Each team must choose an assignment which ties in with a specific musical style or artist. Maartje says that she is a real soul lover and that this style also fitted in best with the qualities of her team. “We chose a soul-related song in the style of the British singer-songwriter Sam Smith.” She draws inspiration from the music of Amy Winehouse, Stevie Wonder and Adele. Catherina, on the other hand, does not admire any artists in particular. “I like various styles of music. I enjoy jazz on the piano as well as pop music, for example.”

Added value
The International Writers Camp is regarded as an interesting project which gives publishers and labels the opportunity to see conservatory students at work before they graduate. In this context, various tracks have already been ‘signed’ by a label or publishing company in the past. The students received guidance from both national and international songwriters, producers and teachers. In order to put the students on the right track, a masterclass was given by singer-songwriter Raul Midón. The tracks were then recorded on CD and can be heard on the SoundCloud audio platform.

Conservatorium Haarlem received a high rating in the new 2017 higher professional education guide (HBO Keuzegids), The degree programme was awarded the special quality mark ‘Top Course 2017’. For the Conservatorium, this is the second quality mark in a row.

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