“Everyone starts with lyrics, melody and chord,” says Michael Bendure, co-founder of the Songwriters Association of Norman, SWAN for short.
“A successful song really marries those three elements in a way that not only makes sense but captures the listener’s ear.”
When you take your fear, hurt, stress, insecurity or anger and put it into a song, it’s an amazing release. When you express your friendship, love and admiration of others in a song – well, there’s just nothing better.”
Bendure and fellow founder Richard Love are helping songwriters find their creative voice.
“At SWAN, we help people develop and improve their skills in all aspects of being a songwriter,” says Love. “We have programs to help songwriters move ahead in writing lyrics and improving the musical aspects of their songs.”
Love says they help musicians with the technical side, like how to set up PA systems and adjust the mixer, and the business side, including instruction on how to copyright their music. The organization also provides guidance for members’ live performances, from building a set list to interacting with the audience. All of these services are provided by SWAN for only a $20 membership fee.
Bendure adds that the nonprofit provides events for members nearly every Tuesday night. On the first Tuesday, the association offers a lesson to help hone the songwriters’ skills. For the next two weeks, they hold open mic nights where performers can play their music and get feedback from others.
One of the most valuable aspects of the organization is the opportunity to work closely with other musicians. The members are able to collaborate throughout the songwriting process, allowing each song to have its best shot to succeed.
“Collaboration can often be overlooked when writing music,” he explains. “As songwriters, we have a tendency to become somewhat hermits and think that our songs are ours alone, but in reality, collaborating can open new doors of expression and perspective that one may not normally consider.”
Through this collaboration, members take away more than improved songs. The tight bonds formed through the shared creativity are lasting ones.
“Songwriting is a healing process for things we deal with in life,” says Love. “When you take your fear, hurt, stress, insecurity or anger and put it into a song, it’s an amazing release. When you express your friendship, love and admiration of others in a song – well, there’s just nothing better.”