A memorable highlight from Summer at the Library 2016 involved a large dose of teamwork, paired with rhyming skills, a guitar, and recording equipment. In just four hours over two days, young patrons at branches in Nelsonville, Athens, and Chauncey created three original tunes with the help of an expert, local musician Megan Bee. The libraries recently asked Megan to tell us more about her music and the summer songwriting workshops. Megan hopes to keep working with young musicians and with ACPL in the future, and is excited to share her own original music as she tours.
(ACPL) Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to teach songwriting.
(Megan Bee) I have a background in environmental education. I have always loved teaching and working with kids.Â Then music came into my life.Â I had been co-writing with other songwriters and eventually decided to see if that process could work with a group of kids.Â For the past two years I have been writing with groups in summer camp settings with great results.Â This summer I was honored to work with local kids at the libraries.
Is it true you asked participants to sign a “contract” at the beginning of each workshop? Tell us about this.
Songwriting is a messy, silly, frustrating process sometimes, so it’s important for everyone to have an agreement right from the start.Â I have kids agree to 3 things:
1. Be positive … Even if you don’t like someone’s idea, stay positive because that idea might help us get to a better idea.Â If we get negative, people start to close off, then the ideas can’t flow out.
2. Be creative… For the process to work, you have to speak up and share your ideas no matter how silly they might sound.Â If no one spoke up, we’d never have a song.Â You can’t just sit in the back and take notes.
3. Have fun…Songwriting is fun.
What will you take with you from this experience?
It’s so inspiring to work with kids.Â When I go into a workshop I know by the end of the two hours we’ll have a song recorded.Â Sometimes I think that’s a crazy goal, but they have always come up with a song under the pressure.Â It’s great to see the words and ideas fly around the room, then come together at the last minute.Â I love those moments where everything clicks together.Â As a writer on my own, sometimes I have trouble getting started.Â The workshops remind me how fun and easy it can be, and how much I love working with groups where everyone’s ideas build together.