The Immersion Method workshop last Sunday was the culmination of lots of discussions and planning. However, that all went out the window when 30 mins before the Zoom call with the 16 participants was about to begin, I felt the ground shake, heard that all too familiar crack of glass…another earthquake! My sixth experience of this since arriving in Japan in January 2020. This one was perhaps the strongest i’ve felt this year, but the locals were non plussed as ever. The buildings shake a little, they dust themselves down and life continues….amazing!

The quake left my internet connection (and me!) a little unstable for the first half an hour of the session, but everyone was very understanding and kind about it. As the day progressed it became clear there was a lot of talent in the virtual room, and wearing headphones, you really get to immerse yourself in each individual’s unique voice. I felt a great willingness from all of the participants to make it work, and everyone made really positive contributions. I demonstrated several tasks, games as I would in the room, folks volunteered to sing and play along, and we had a lot of laughs too!

At the afternoon sharing we actually ran over time as people had had such a productive time, and brought a lot of work to share. Upon listening back I assigned a new song title to each writer, inviting them to take it away and compose a new song. This is a technique borrowed from Chris Difford, it had worked well for me in the summer and so I was keen to pass it on, give it a try. One participant Sue, I provided her with the title ‘Memory Walk’ and then the next day I she sent me this email:

When you suggested the title ‘Memory walk’ to me at the end, I couldn’t believe it – I wrote the song a few weeks ago

Synchronicity at play… I love things like this, ha ha!

Another participant, Kimberley made a really memorable contribution, using a  combination of the ‘Random Book Random Page‘ lyrical game and the ‘Melody Anagram’ musical game. For the lyrical task she used a DIY book and chose instructions on building a dry stone wall… this provided a really interesting metaphor and delivered with her dynamic, impressive vocal range made for a terrific song!

The sharing part of the session is fast paced, dynamic and inspiring. It can be nerve racking to play such freshly written work to an audience, but taking the leap and doing shines a creative light on the work and can really help it to grow. It’s as if you hear the song through others ears, and it helps you to identify precisely which elements you want to change or develop. This is something Phil Thornalley pointed out to me at his studio over coffee sometime in 2004 and it has really stuck with me and proved to be correct!

I tend to not deliver too much detailed critique at that early stage, such talk is better placed at a 1 to 1 session, and certainly after the song has had a bit of space and time to breathe, so to speak…

It’s been great to receive positive feedback from the participants on Sunday’s first sessions, and I was on a real high post workshop, with lots of great melodies and lyrics spinning around my head.

A big thank you to all in attendance for making the event such a creative success and I look forward to the next one:.