Hey guys! This summer I was gifted with an incredible opportunity; I got accepted into Southern Word’s week-long program called “Summer Studio”. Now, before I get into all of the details about how amazing Summer Studio was, let me tell you a little bit about Southern Word and how I found out about it.
So I’ve actually been doing creative writing and poetry for years. When I first moved here to Tennessee a few years ago, I saw an ad online somewhere promoting Southern Word and an open mic they were hosting. The event was for all middle and high school students with free admission. All I had to do was sign up when I got there, and then I got to perform in front of my parents and tons of other kids and students from the Nashville area. It was actually a scary first open mic experience, but it made me determined to get better, and so I have been working with Southern Word ever since.
Southern Word simply stated is a nonprofit organization that helps to develop the creative skills amongst Nashville teens. They host open mics, workshops, and even in-school events. They also host slam poetry competitions, in which qualifying students can go on to larger statewide competitions, and some even end up performing on Ted Talks.
I have been taking their poetry workshops for a while now, getting to know many of the kids and mentors, but now, I have been focusing my attention on their music production and songwriting workshops, usually hosted by my main mentor, Sean De Leon. Sean has taught me so much over the past couple of months and my growing interest in music is what has inspired me to start this blog. So, if you are also a middle or high school student in the Nashville area interested in any kind of writing, poetry, or production, I highly encourage you to take advantage of Southern Word and their incredible programs and highly experienced mentors. You can visit their site at https://southernword.org/.
But what was Summer Studio anyway?
Every summer Southern Word hosts a “Summer Studio”. Usually, it is in person (but I haven’t experienced that yet), but this year it was hosted virtually for obvious reasons. Summer Studio was a five-day camp filled with different workshops and private sessions with experienced mentors who helped us develop some sort of final project either individually, or in groups. Some people performed a slam poem, while some played a beat they made, and many either performed or played a song they had written. At the end of the week, there was a virtual showcase hosted by Dyondre Thomas, for all of the kids’ families and friends to join and listen to the finished projects. I shared my song “Misinterpretation”, which I had the opportunity to record one day with some of the mentors and students downtown at Jefferson Street Studio (while social distancing of course).
The studio was insane! The building it’s in is super old with a lot of history, and there is a main room in the building that is set up as a sort of music history museum. Then there were two studios, the main with the recording booth upstairs, and a smaller work station with some midi keyboards and editing equipment downstairs. The upstairs was undoubtedly the coolest part other than the museum space. There’s a lot of professional production equipment, several large monitors, a couch, and a huge TV. The room was dim with some colorful lights and recording in the booth was awesome because I really felt like I was in this safe, creative space.
Aside from my one day in the studio, the rest of the days were hosted virtually. We’d all hop on our computers at 10:00 and be off by 3:00. The first two days were mainly just a bunch of rotations between different breakout rooms in zooms so we could attend various workshops with the different mentors. I took poetry workshops, beat making workshops, singing workshops, basic production workshops, songwriting workshops, lyric workshops, and on and on. Some were a bit repetitive but we always received different prompts and it was interesting to hear all of the different perspectives of the mentors and the ways they each approach the process of writing a song. I learned so much during that week and it is crazy to think that it never could have happened if I had been working this summer. It just goes to show that sometimes things happen for a reason.
Summer Studio was incredible! I did have to apply though even though the program itself was free, so it was just that much more exciting when I found out I was accepted. I think everyone ended up getting accepted because not all of the spots were filled, but I was still stoked! I was also the only kid from Nolensville so it was fun and drama free (lol). I got to meet a lot of interesting people and make some new friends. It was a great source of safe socialization in addition to education since I haven’t been able to hang out with many of my friends in so long.
I didn’t actually end up doing as much on the production side of my song as I was hoping to, but to be fair our time at the studio was limited and I did have to write the entire song and rehearse my singing in just four days. If you’re interested in listening to my song and learning more about the process that went behind creating it, you can do so HERE.
Thank you so much Southern Word for the constant opportunities you are providing. I have gained so much knowledge and experience through you, and cannot wait for workshops to resume in early August.
Bye guys! Thank you so much for reading and stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, “My Current Studio Setup”, which will basically be a detailed list of all of my production equipment and instruments, what DAW’s I use, how I have everything set up, and where you can purchase all of these items. See ya then!