by Mike Howie
In a word, this three hour session at the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2013 was ‘superb’ – superb setting, venue, talent and content.
The workshop leader was Monique DiMattina, an Australian singer, songwriter and pianist from Melbourne. Monique has a regular radio gig – Shaken Not Rehearsed – where a radio listener suggests a song title and Monique has one hour to write and produce a song on topic. In other words, songwriting that gets done without excuses or self-doubt getting in the way – which were very much the themes for this masterclass.
Monique strode into the room, sat behind her electric Rhodes piano, beamed a smile as wide as the island of Bali and announced: “today you will all write a song…and share it.” Monique added “John Lennon said don’t ever let the sun go down on a song, and it’s a rule I live by.”
The intimate class – only a dozen students – was made up of a mix of young Indonesians, older Australians and a couple of others from all points in between – and the group encompassed musicians and non-musicians.
First up, what was superb was the way Monique’s class catered for the non-musician perfectly, while still keeping the music element very much to the fore.
Second, Monique is a class act in more than just her performance and compositional skills. This masterclass was a lesson in how to structure, pace, involve and enthuse every participant. The three-hour class was perfectly paced with content delivered in perfect bite-sized pieces.
Finally, Monique has devised a very clever songwriting method that over an hour or so moves the novice songwriter away from the ‘songwriting is just too hard’ stance. Monique’s true skills are the simple methods she introduces move one’s lyrical content to something where, at the conclusion, this writer muttered to himself, “by golly, I have just written a song.”
If you get a chance to attend one of Monique DiMattina’s songwriting classes, whether musician or non-musician – just go!
Monique diMattilla’s latest album, NOLA’S ARK, is available for sampling and download at her site http://www.moniquedimattina.com/shop