Park City-based singers and songwriters establish free songwriters groups
While Park City-based singer and songwriter Elizabeth Hareza was on her first national tour last month, she learned many things.
"It was a huge learning experience," Hareza told The Park Record. "I found out everything that I did right and learned what I needed to improve on for the next tour."
Hareza’s tour, which was in support of her new album, "My Peeps," included stops in North Carolina, the Ozarks, Denver, Chicago and Nashville.
However, the biggest thing she learned was how much she loved songwriting.
"I spent eight days in Nashville, which really started the fire about starting up some songwriting groups in Park City," Hareza said. "Everything in Nashville is about original music and you hear [musicians] who have written songs on their own or have written songs with other people.
"I thought to myself that there are so many fabulous hit songwriters living in the Wasatch Mountain areas who have written songs for country and pop names," she said. "I thought, why not give all of the people who are interested in songwriting a place to meet, mingle and have fun together."
So, she and her friend Bill McGinnis started a songwriting group.
"He and I talk about all of these amazing songwriters who travel through town and give some amazing workshops, so we talked about all of these different opportunities we have here to get together with local songwriters in the meantime for no cost," Hareza said.
The two hosted their first group in September.
"What we did was sit and share lyrics and songs with each other," she said. "We had people coming from all different songwriting backgrounds. Some had never written a song before. Some had written a ton of songs. Some were singers but not writers, and some were writers but not singers."
Hareza used that session to gauge what the participants wanted.
"One person wanted to come to a group to write and wanted to come out of each meeting with a new song," she said. "Others who just played music wanted to be in a situation with lyricists."
So, Hareza and McGinnis decided to plan hosting a songwriting group once a month.
"We will add more if we can," she said. "We would like to eventually meet once a week, but when we do, it won’t have to necessarily be with the whole group. We would like to offer as many as we can, so people who may not be able to make to one can attend one that works best for them in the future."
Hareza wants to offer the groups at no cost.
"[These groups] are designed to be something that complements other songwriting workshops out there that people have to pay for," Hareza said.
The whole point will be to get people active with writing, according to Hareza.
"All they have to do is email me," he said.
To inquire about the songwriting groups, email Hareza at firstname.lastname@example.org .
"We’re starting a list of what’s happening and people can email me to find out what we have planned," she said. "They can choose which ones they want or ask questions about the groups.
"Most importantly, anyone is encouraged to come and observe a group or groups to see if these are something they want to participate in," she said. "Many times people don’t know what group will fit their needs, so we want people to see for themselves what we have to offer."
The groups will welcome all levels of songwriters interested in all styles from folk, bluegrass, pop, rock, alternative and country, she said.
Hareza also wants to provide a failure-free and positive zone — place where songwriters won’t hear the word "No."
"I learned that you should never say no to a songwriter while I was in Nashville," she said. "You need to let the songwriter see how the song develops or at least allow them to figure out if the song won’t work.
"However, more times than not, there are people who won’t read their lyrics out loud because they think they aren’t very good, but in reality, they are really good," she said. "Even the most beginning-level writer will have something cool in their lyrics that takes someone else to point out."
Another criterion in the group is respect.
"Regardless of our individual philosophies, we respect others’ points of view, because it takes a lot of guts to put your deepest, darkest emotions and experiences in a song for others to hear," Hareza said. "We hope we can get some fun songs out of this and get do some fun things in the community. We also have plenty of resources for those who want to take their songwriting to the next level."
There will be two groups in October, one on Sunday, Oct. 11, at the Granger School of Music from noon until 3 p.m. and one on Wednesday, Oct. 21, from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. in a soon-to-be determined location in the Salt Lake City or Park City area.
"The Granger School of Music has been very supportive and has some great ideas, including some great songwriters on their staff," Hareza said. "We also have a few places in mind and some of the participants have offered their homes."
Sometimes the groups will be coupled with a potluck.
"We will try to make each session last about two to three hours," she said. "That’s a good amount of time, and sometimes you get hungry when your creative juices flow."
The Park City Songwriter Group will meet on Sunday, Oct. 11, at the Granger School of Music, 1850 Sidewinder Dr., from noon until 3 p.m. For more information about the Park City Songwriters Group, email Elizabeth Hareza at email@example.com .
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