Sam Keevers and Gary Pinto bring their songwriting skills to SCU students.
Sam Keevers and Gary Pinto bring their songwriting skills to SCU students.

Songwriters inspire students

If you want to be a better songwriter, you should study how songs that you like have been constructed. Songwriters Gary Pinto and Sam Keevers have been working with the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) to bring the knowledge of their craft to students in the North Coast and conducted a workshop at Southern Cross University last week. Sam said he has always wanted to make music and hopes to encourage students to keep writing songs.

“The SCU Contemporary music department is well known and there’s a lot of talented SCU graduates out there in the music scene,” Sam said. “I’ve played with a lot of them.”

Teaching their first workshop together, Sam and Gary said they had been looking forward to sharing their knowledge of song writing.

Since he began to play piano and cello at the age of nine, Sam spent years studying music and has performed with Australian artists such as Kate Ceberano, The Black Sorrows and Katie Noonan. He has taught improvisation workshops and worked in the commercial industry. Gary is a vocalist and plays guitar and has collaborated with artists such as Guy Sebastian.

Sam said that the during the workshop, students were given tips about how songs actually worked, including specific harmonic language about the way chords were constructed.

“When you are creating music, you need to study how harmonies and chords are used and funnel these into your writing. Eventually it will come out in your own way,” Gary said. “The essence of song writing is to be yourself. When you are looking for inspiration, you need to find something that resonates with you. Everyone has a different way of wording things. You need to find a hook and express it in a poetic way that fits with your truth and your character.”

Sam said that studying poetry was another important part of learning to be a good songwriter.

“You need to read the works of authors who are good with words,” he said, “The songs of Bob Dylan tell stories but they are also poetry. He is a poet and tells stories in a beautiful fashion using metaphors and esoteric imagery. ‘The sky is blue’ can be said in so many different ways.”


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