Emmy award-winning songwriter to teach in Westport
Published 12:27 pm, Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Emmy award-winning composer, songwriter and music director Andy "A.J." Gundell said that although he's always been into music, once the Beatles hit the scene he started to "get serious" about playing guitar and singing. "By the end of high school, it occurred to me that I'd like to write my own songs," Gundell said.
Gundell, a 35-year veteran in the music, entertainment and media businesses, plans to pass on his passion for the craft in "Songwriting Saturdays," a new workshop at the Writers' Room in Westport. The six-week program, designed to teach teens and adults to "listen, construct, sell and perform" original songs, beginning Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m., is $285.
Space is limited but there are few openings still available, said Tish Fried, co-founder of the Writers' Room.
"We currently have six people enrolled and, as with all of our workshops, we like to keep the classes small so that everyone could receive individualized attention," she said.
Gundell said all facets of songwriting will be addressed, beginning with listening to musical pieces and analyzing the elements of a well-constructed song.
"The goal is to create our own songs from scratch," he said. "I will help them develop their own songs both lyrically and musically."
But Gundell said songwriting is "more than just a creative endeavor." The workshop also will include discussion about the music business. During the workshop, Gundell plans to teach students how to go about selling and marketing their material. The Songwriting Workshop will culminate with a showcase on February 13.
"There's been a lot of interest so far in Songwriting Saturdays and I think this is going to be a lot of fun," Fried said.
For the past five years, she and co-founder Patrick McCord have operated editing and writing workshops in Westport. Last June, they moved their business to the Red Schoolhouse in Colonial Green. Its bottom level is primarily used as a cozy Writers' Room where members are offered free coffee and WiFi as well as a comfortable place to compose. Its second floor is used for workshops, such as this Saturday's inaugural songwriting program.
"We're trying to create a sense of community and also to teach," Fried said. "People love coming in here and once you're in, it's all about collaboration."
Gundell, a professional sound engineer and owner of a recording studio in Wilton, recently joined Write Yourself Free's administrative team as its resident audio producer and associate. Fried said Gundell is able to assist writers in creating audio books that could be used as a demo for potential publishers or as a finished product to be sold on iTunes or Amazon.
The Writers' Room plans more courses and special events throughout the year.
Launching this week are several new writing workshops, such as a food writing and blogging class taught by cookbook author Corrine Trang. There also is a workshop taught by public relations professional Priscilla Whitley starting on January 21 that will offer tips on pitching stories to magazines. Fried said there is still space available in some sections of McCord's screenwriting workshops and the company's signature Write Yourself Free workshops.
Write Yourself Free is at the Writers' Room at the Little Red Schoolhouse in Colonial Green, 252 Post Road East, Westport. For more information about Write Yourself Free workshops and events, call 203-557-4614 or go to www.writeyourselffree.com.