Week #52: Ready for a New Year

Week 52 is here, bringing the “52 Weeks in 2021: 52 weeks, 52 years, 52 songs” project to a close! (As well as 2021…)

To wrap up the project, I wrote a new song: “Ready for a New Year.”

I wrote the song on keyboards then tried to recreate it on the DAW with drums and bass but after my husband helped me plug the keyboard directly into the interface, I decided to keep it simple. My early songs started out with guitar and vocals and this year I’ve started writing more on piano so I thought that was an appropriate way to end the project.

It’s a reflective song, looking back at the past year.

That was 52 weeks, 365 days
Looking back, has anything changed?
I know I’m older, am I wiser, too?
Am I closer to what I’m meant to do?

Has anything changed in 2021? So many aspects of it resemble 2020. What have I learned the past year? Have I made any progress? Even through the New Year is technically just switching to a new calendar year, the idea of a new year feels like a fresh start and an opportunity for change.

I’m ready for a New Year
I’ve done all I can do here
It’s suddenly clear, I can see
I’m ready for a new year of me

More reflection on the past year:

In these 52 weeks, 365 days
Had highs and lows, though no complaints
Learned lots of lessons, felt lots of love
Counted my blessings, prayed for more to come

I’m ready for a New Year
I’ve done all I can do here
It’s suddenly clear, I can see
I’m ready for a new year of me

The bridge was originally part of the chorus:

When the clock strikes midnight
I’ll be feeling alright

I’m ready for a New Year
I’ve done all I can do here
It’s suddenly clear, I can see
I’m ready for a new year
Ready for a new year
I’m ready for a new year of me.

If I had more time, I’d develop the bridge a little more, I wasn’t sure what to do with that. My plans in 2022 includes producing better versions of some of my favorite songs. Coincidentally, with this last song of the year, I’ve reached my limit on my free Soundcloud account, which has been my “rough draft” place to put my songs since 2016, so I’ve started a new account where I plan to post future songs.

Here’s the song:

The whole 52 Weeks in 2021 project has it’s own page, where I’ve compiled all 52 songs in order. For anyone who is interested, it can be found here.

When I introduced this project, I expressed appreciation for those who assisted me in this journey (most who have no idea who I am or that they are part of my journey) so I thought I’d end this off in the same way.

First of all, at the top of the list is my husband, Ron, who has always been so supportive and encouraging when it comes to my songwriting. He’s also provided amazing technical support through the years with helping set up a recording system.

Next are my three sons, Zach, Jadon and Adam, whose feedback is invaluable, and for the times they kept quiet so I could record. (And to our new dogs Mickey and Joey, for usually not barking when I try to record.) Thank you also to my sister, Staci, and friends Linda and Audrey for all the encouragement and willingness to listen to my songs. (I’ll include my dad and mother-in-law here, too for their general support and presence in our lives.)

One thing I’ve realized these past few years is how many giving people there are out there – so many songwriters and teachers who share their knowledge and experience and I’m so grateful for them.

One of the earlier ones is producer Jeff Silverman who took time in 2016 to have a phone conversation with me, providing feedback on my songs and suggesting that I get in touch with the local songwriting organization in my city.

Taking his advice, I learned about the Arizona Songwriters Association and started attending the group’s Songs in Progress workshop at the Glendale Public Library. I’m so appreciative of the facilitators of that workshop – Randy Brown and Jon Iger (founder of ASA) – for taking the time every month to help songwriters. After COVID hit, the group moved to Zoom for the meetings so there’s been that monthly dose of a songwriting community for more than five years now.

Paradise Valley Community College has a great music department and I’ve learned a lot through that as well, from free community workshops on a variety of topics (acoustics, microphones, mixing & recording, electronic music, etc.) I also took a few courses there: Studio Music Recording, a fun class where students got to use the school’s recording equipment (unfortunately the studio time was cut short in March 2020 when everything shut down but instructor John Keenan did his best to transition the class to virtual) and Music Business: Content Creation and Copyright (with Dr. Brett Reed), where I learned a lot about the business side of the music business. I also took a weekend class on songwriting techniques at Mesa Community College, where I had my first co-write experience.

There’s a long list of generous musicians and people who offered classes, workshops, webinars and more (some free, some paid) over the past 2-3 years. Here they are in no particular order in case anyone is looking for helpful resources:

  • Cathy Heller’s Six-Figure Songwriting class and her inspiring “Don’t Keep Your Day Job” podcast, which both have a general message to just do the work and put it out there without worrying about whether or not it’s good enough. Keep working and developing because you never know what that will lead to. If you don’t get started, you definitely won’t accomplish anything and this was one big lesson that inspired me to do the 52 Weeks in 2021 project.
  • Online guitar lessons through the Fender app, which I started in the early days of the pandemic. It definitely improved my guitar playing but I didn’t spend too much time on it after realizing being a great guitar player isn’t really one of my goals.
  • Cari Cole’s Step up to the Spotlight community. Lots of good singing advice here, which I still need to go through, but her Friday Facebook live sessions were always very inspiring and educational. I also learned more about singing from Steve Glazer’s Singing Simplified, which I also need to go through because I need help with my singing. Like with guitar, it’s not my goal to become a great singer, but I do need improvement so I can sing my own songs, even if it’s for a demo.
  • Kris Bradley’s From Voice Memo to Demo course on music production and her “Beatmaking for Songwriters.” This material has been so helpful in learning out how to use LogicPro and record my songs. She’s an amazing teacher and her Produce Like a Boss community generates lots of helpful information. I still need to finish the Beatmkaing course.
  • Ryan Tedder’s “Write & Produce Hit Songs with Ryan Tedder” course on Monthly, in which he demonstrated a whole different method of writing. The songs I wrote during his class were “Let’s Meet in a Dream” and “This is a New Day.”
  • Songwriting resources from Success for Your Songs
  • Regular meetings with songwriter Lisa Hart, who I met at a Arizona Songwriters Association meeting. Sometimes we worked on songs, sometimes we just shared tips we learned and gave each other encouragement. We wrote “Signs of the Season” together and recorded it in producer Kenny Star’s studio in Cottonwood, AZ.
  • I also attended a workshop or two by Michael Elsner of Master Music Licensing, which were great and possibly something to revisit once I get further along with my production skills.
  • In January 2021, I took the “Turbo-Charge Your Life” sessions with the wonderful author and creativity coach Bob Baker and those workshops led to the idea of 52 Weeks in 2021 as well.
  • Berklee College of Music professors who put courses together on Coursera – “Writing the Lyrics” with Pat Pattison and “Writing the Music” with Scarlet Keys. Songs I wrote implementing what I learned in their classes were “Family Picture” and “Winter Wonder.” Still working on the “Arranging for Songwriters” course.
  • Shelly Peikin for sharing her songwriting stories in her book “Confessions of a Serial Songwriter Songwriter,” which I listened to on audiobook during commutes. Her memoir provided lots of insight to the life of a songwriter and it was interesting to learn about how the industry has changed over the past few decades.

Hopefully I haven’t forgotten anyone, but did want to mention Rick Springfield and The Beatles, too, as those are two big songwriting inspirations. The first goes way back to junior high (and it was a radio show featuring his music where I learned about producer Jeff Silverman’s virtual studio, which led to me contacting him in the first place) and The Beatles go way back to high school. I’ve been watching the “Get Back” documentary and it’s so incredible to observe them writing songs- songs that we now think of as legendary and they’re going over the tiniest details and wondering if the songs even work. (such as “Let it Be” and “The Long and Winding Road.”) It was so cute to see Ringo sharing a song he was working on (“Octopus’s Garden) and to see George asking Billy Preston about what chords he was playing on piano and being unsure of playing piano because he was used to only writing songs on guitar. Yep, everyone has to start somewhere, even a Beatle.

Anyway, if you’ve managed to read this post all the way to the end, thank you!

Wishing you health, happiness and success in 2022!

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