06 Jul Try Tune and Song Writing with Dawn Davis This Fall
Dawn Davis is one of those incredibly talented folks we’re lucky to have close by. You’ve likely seen her playing for our weekly dances, entertaining guests at Folk School events, or joining in on our community jams. The instrument in her hands may change–she plays the piano, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, Celtic folk harp, and Irish tenor banjo–but the tunes she brings to the stage or the circle are always passionate, elegant, and beautiful.
We’re excited to have Dawn return to teach the weekend class, “Try Tune and Song Writing,” from September 8-10, 2023. Folks will enjoy creating and sharing tunes while gaining the knowledge and confidence to make their own music. It’s perfect for those who have never written or want to strengthen their songwriting chops–the ability to read music isn’t a pre-requisite, and Dawn is excellent at helping everyone, regardless of their skill level, thrive and succeed.
One of her previous students, Dana Ford, wrote in Atlanta Magazine, “[Dawn] made songwriting feel like a sensory scavenger hunt, and me like I had found the treasure.” Dana added that, in the weeks since Dawn’s class, “I’ve noticed an ever-so-subtle shift. I’m playing music more. I’m scribbling ideas in a notebook.” We say it all the time, but it bears repeating–the Folk School changes you!
Read more about Dawn Davis and her class in our interview below! Also watch her previous Morningsong videos to get a taste of her style. Interested in her class? Register today to secure your spot.
JCCFS: Tell us more about your upcoming weekend music class, “Try Tune and Song Writing” from September 8-10. It’s for all levels, correct?
DD: This class provides methods and guidance for writing your own original tune and/or song. If you have a poem that wants a melody; or a tune in your head that needs chords; if you want to start from an idea and write a piece for a gift; or start from scratch and state your case, you will receive the keys to the secrets.
You can bring any instrument you’re comfortable with, or use your voice. No experience is necessary, just an open heart. In this supportive class, there is no right or wrong because what is created is what each student feels. Expressing that is what we’ll do.
Reading and notating music on paper is not necessary. If you can hear chord changes and tap your foot to the beat, you’ve got this! Come and sing or play your own song!
JCCFS: What can students expect to leave with?
DD: Students will be sharing their music with others as they open up creatively, and can expect to leave with a rich soup of ideas for how to go about writing music and songs. Along with their thoughts and feelings set to music, they’ll leave with the confidence to keep writing, as they wonder why it seemed so mysterious before. An incredible new experience for many and life-changing too.
Dawn with a previous “Try Tune and Song Writing” class
Dawn playing alongside Lorinda Jones and Kay Patterson at our weekly Community Jam at The Crown Restaurant
JCCFS: Tell us a little more about yourself for those who are unfamiliar.
DD: I’ve been composing since 1992. My music has appeared in numerous films and documentaries, such as “Sanctuary,” a nature film by renowned wildlife photographer Scott McKinley of Jackson Hole, WY; and the “Vaquero Series” of DVDs by J&S Productions in Santa Barbara, CA. My original music, “The Oldest Hemlock,” inspires preventative disease treatment for the species.
I’ve taught this class many times at the Folk School, and my piece, “A Composer’s MorningSong” has been sung in the Keith House at daylight often. As a resident contra-dance musician at the school, I currently write tunes in traditional style and structure, and I play many instruments including piano, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, Celtic folk harp, and Irish tenor banjo.
JCCFS: What is your favorite aspect of the John C. Campbell Folk School?
DD: It always feels like home. From a song I wrote: “Home is not a place always; but can be a place where comfort stays, and holds for you a warm embrace.”
The Folk School is where I have countless memories of friends made, food enjoyed, laughter, song, and a deep new understanding of craft and creativity. It promotes a simpler enjoyment of living, from Singing Behind the Plow to cutting a rug on the dance floor; to sporting a sooty face or blistered guitar fingers. It is where I can share the joy and process of what I love doing.
JCCFS: What’s something you’ve written recently that you’re proud of, and why?
DD: I am currently in the process of writing a lullaby song for my yet-unborn granddaughter, and am crafting words that may help her throughout her life. I feel that after I’m gone, it may be a song she can keep by her until the end of her life. That would be the most meaningful continuation of the circle, and the best gift from my heart, from what I was meant to do to who she may become.
JCCFS: What tips would you give an aspiring musician or songwriter? Anything you wish you knew earlier in your career?
DD: I grew up studying classical piano. And though technically on point in national competitions, the judges would caution me against using too much “rubato,” or my own feeling. I start my classes by encouraging the students to “free up” and listen to their inner voices, as long as their expression is within acceptable parameters.
JCCFS: We heard you’re teaching at Olive’s Porch, our space in downtown Murphy, as well! Tell us more about that.
DD: Yes! I am scheduled to teach an “Introduction to Songwriting” workshop on October 20 from 2-5 p.m., followed by “Return to Songwriting” on October 27 from 2-5 p.m. Both these workshops act as shorter introductions to the topics covered in my class at the Folk School.
From Dawn’s class, “Try Tune and Song Writing”
Dawn’s Irish Traditional Band, Paddy’s Return
Watch Dawn’s previous Morningsong performances
Upcoming Class with Dawn
Try Tune and Song Writing
September 8-10, 2023
Ever wanted to try your hand at writing a song or composing a jig, reel, or waltz? Discover effective methods to get started developing song lyrics and tune structures. Bring an instrument with which you are well acquainted, or your singing voice and a recording device. Enjoy creating and sharing while gaining the knowledge and confidence to make your very own music. Students do not have to read music, but they should be able to feel rhythms and hear chord changes.
About Dawn Davis
Dawn Davis has been composing since 1992. Her music has appeared in numerous films and documentaries, such as “Sanctuary,” a nature film by renowned wildlife photographer, Scott McKinley of Jackson Hole, WY; and the “Vaquero Series” of DVDs by J&S Productions in Santa Barbara, CA. At the Folk School, Dawn’s piece, “A Composer’s MorningSong” has been sung in the Keith House at daylight many times. Her original music, “The Oldest Hemlock,” inspires preventative disease treatment for the species. As a resident contra-dance musician at the school, she currently writes tunes in traditional style and structure. Her instruments include piano, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, Celtic folk harp, and Irish tenor banjo.