Sculpting Air: A Whole-Person Approach to Songwriting

November 25, 2019 | Arts & Culture


Learn more about songwriting with Robert Walsh, Conservatory of Music instructor and author of two books, including Sculpting Air - A Whole-Person Approach to Songwriting.

So how did this book come about?

2018/19 was my 10th year teaching songwriting at MacEwan University, and I wanted to create a course book that reflected the approach I’ve developed over the years – and continue my path as an author, musician, educator and speaker.

The book does the usual thing of compartmentalizing the nuts and bolts of songwriting, and focuses on subjects like melody, lyrics, harmony, theory, structure, production and business. But the title – Sculpting Air - A Whole-Person Approach to Songwriting – reflects my own broader approach to the subject.

Baked into Sculpting Air is the idea that songwriting should galvanize our entire being, starting with the interplay between our creative selves and our analytical selves. Whether we refer to the two selves as left-brain and right-brain; feminine and masculine; or the artist and the pragmatist – we need to tap into both facets to reliably create good work. But it doesn’t stop there. We also need to involve our physical and emotional selves to perform our work and extract meaning, and access the most non-academic of all terms, heart, as our creative compass.

Common challenges for songwriters include overcoming our internal critic, which focuses on perfectionism and shuts us down. On the other hand, we must move past the belief that many creative types have: that first idea is best idea, and is therefore sacrosanct. Learning to balance and manage these competing voices is key to developing as a songwriter, and there are many tips and exercises to help integrate left-and right-brain modalities, broaden our outlook, and explore various songwriting processes and techniques.

This book is intended first and foremost for MacEwan students, but is also a resource for anyone else interested in songwriting. As an aside, some business people have said they found it helpful in their work as well – particularly the chapters on creativity, process and planning. Beyond the subjects I’ve already mentioned, Sculpting Air – which features contributions from hit-makers Jason Blume and Victoria Banks – explores songwriting philosophy, creativity, co-writing, the history of songwriting and the role of the songwriter in the world.

In songwriting, as in most other creative pursuits, there are myriad decisions to be made to define a vision and then ensure it is realized. From the moment the muse appears until the time we listen to the final mastered recording on our phones, we can maximize our song’s potential, while also maximizing our own, by involving all aspects of ourselves in the process.

Join Robert in Songwriting 2 this January (prerequisite: Songwriting 1 suggested, but not required) or take private lessons with Robert.

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