The Creative Songwriting Journal

The Creative Songwriting Journal

Most of us are familiar with the words ‘mental health’, We are used to hearing them mentioned on a fairly regular basis with some understanding of what it means and that we all have mental health. It was not always like this though. It was up until fairly recently largely associated with people suffering with depression. At times it has been almost taboo to discuss it, let alone admit you have a mental health issue for fear of being seen as weak, unstable, or mad. On the verge of being seen as some sort of disease you might catch just by touching someone with it! Does this attitude sound familiar? It should do if you grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. There was the same uneducated, ill-informed attitude towards AIDS. Now we have a very different attitude towards it because we understand it.

Why is it that mental health (which are obviously far from being a recent problem for humans) has, for so long, been swept under the carpet? A word best kept in the shadows, not to be spoken of and hidden like a dark terrible secret. That is a big subject for discussion at another time perhaps.

Fortunately, this narrow-minded opinion of yester year, no longer exists for the majority of society. It has now become part of societies everyday vocabulary, whether that is as a positive quote on Instagram, an item in the news, or an app for meditation and wellbeing. Unfortunately, however, it is a bittersweet situation, as awareness rises and the ‘permission’ granted to speak, so do the statistics.

Children of primary school age are being diagnosed with mental health issues. This is heart-breaking isn’t it? To be clear the NHS confirmed in October 2020 that 1 in 10 children have a probable mental health issue. I am not going to focus on what, why and how of this because my expert area is in wellbeing and how singing and song writing can benefit children, teenagers, and adults.

Lockdown has stopped children form seeing their friends, playing outside, running, skipping, dancing, singing, and making up songs. This is natural to them. Its how they engage in fun and joy. Self-expression is crucial to child development and growth. Through singing and song writing children are able to experience social cohesion, build confidence, engage in self-expression, and develop resilience. If this is completely taken away from them how are they to express themselves? Children unlike adults are not equipped with the skills used naturally every day to navigate dealing with the loss and acceptance of not being able to participate in hobbies. Even then though, the daily news confirms that we are not actually handling this mental health issues either.

Schools are increasingly removing creative arts from the curriculum. Not only in primary education but also secondary. Seen as (apparently) unnecessary, who knew??  As a singer and musician, this makes my blood boil, as a music teacher this makes my already boiling blood erupt like a volcano! Engaging in the simple practice of singing has the power to impact positively on children’s mood, emotions, and feelings, in a nutshell their wellbeing. I write this with a mix of sadness, frustration, deep fear, and absolute rage for where we are heading.

This, in part, led me to writing and publishing ‘The Creative Songwriting Journal’. My first book which guides you in how to create your own songs through creative exercises, inspirational tasks, and positive quotes. Packed with colourful thick pages and lots of space ready to be filled by growing minds, with pen in hand. I have been unknowingly planting and watering the seeds of this book the past 27 years during my work as a professional singer, songwriter, and vocal coach. I was diagnosed with cyclothymia in my 30’s (it’s a fancy word for being on the bipolar spectrum) having struggled mentally and emotionally since childhood. I left school in 1989 and became a professional singer and that has been my career ever since. Singing for me allowed me to be myself, express how I feel through words and melody. It gives me freedom in a world where demands are constantly made on us. It’s how I let go and become free of my own burdens. I teach singing and song writing to all ages and it fills me with joy to watch other people connect to themselves through music whether that is through a 121 lesson, in my choirs, workshops, dementia care homes or with the brain injury group I teach every week. In 2015 I embarked on a scientific route to understand the why and how of what I was doing. In 2019 I finished my master’s degree (Distinction) in Vocal Pedagogy Applied Professional Practice, researching and specialising in singing and wellbeing.

My journal is a complete kit, providing the tools to build confidence, encourage creativity, and support self-expression through the medium of song writing. It has been endorsed by the UK parenting coach Sue Atkins. I am glad singing is being recognised and taken seriously for being more than just a fun hobby or past time when it is so much more than that.

This is the book I wish I had been given when I was the lost, unhappy, then undiagnosed child, desperately wanting to be understood. Children not only need a creative space for self-expression with no one telling them they cannot express their feelings; they absolutely deserve it for maintaining their own mental health and giving them the tools to navigate their own way through adult hood.

To contact Sophie:

£1 of every book sale goes to Young Minds charity


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