The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Musicians from town and College to host songwriting workshops at the Stew

Emma Schaefer ’22 is one of a few Grinnell songwriters leading Songwriters’ Circle workshops at the Stew. Contributed by Emma Schaefer.
Emma Schaefer ’22 is one of a few Grinnell songwriters leading Songwriters’ Circle workshops at the Stew. Contributed by Emma Schaefer.

Local songwriters from the College and town will begin hosting “Songwriters’ Circle” workshops at The Stew. The classes, held on Nov. 17 and Dec. 15 at the Grinnell Arts Center, are open to aspiring singer-songwriters of all musical abilities. Organizing the event are Emma Schaefer ’22, Saketan Anand ’21, and Erik Jarvis ’12, who manages Events & Facilities for the Grinnell Area Arts Council.

A weeklong workshop called Song School inspired Schaefer to bring a songwriting circle to Grinnell. 

“People are camping there so they get together and perform for each other in a really casual setting for hours throughout the night, and it’s so special,” Schaefer said. “I thought it would be a great thing to bring to Grinnell because I know that there are some songwriters in the town and at the College.”

The Songwriters’ Circle is designed to be a songwriter-only space, in contrast to other performance spaces such as Tiny Dorm and Freesound. “It’s for people who are not yet confident playing to a crowd of twenty-five people. It’s for a songwriter who’s not sure about a song and wants to get feedback from other songwriters. It’s for a songwriter who is curious and looking for influences,” Anand said.

Schaefer appreciated the unique experience in the songwriting circles she previously participated in. “Sometimes in a performance, it feels like everything has to be polished, but in this sort of setting people might be sharing songs that they just wrote,” Schaefer said. In a songwriting circle, everyone knows the vulnerability of sharing their own music.

Participants will sit in a circle, introduce themselves, and then everyone will play a song. The goal is to exchange feedback and build community among songwriters from both the town and college of Grinnell. The focus is on the music. “It’s just performing and receiving the songs and being open to hearing so many different genres and ideas,” Schaefer said.

Both Schaefer and Anand have been musicians for most of their lives. “When I was very little, around six or seven years old, my parents asked, ‘What instrument do you want to learn?’ and I said guitar,” Anand said.

Schaefer wrote her first song in fourth grade. “I’ve found that it’s an amazing way to be able to articulate my emotions and understand the world around me. Being able to share that with others is such a cool way to connect,” Schaefer said.

Both artists shared that the songwriting community at Grinnell College is small and well-connected. 

“It’s a very tight circle. Almost everyone knows everyone and everyone has an equal opportunity to try something out,” Anand said. “We inspire each other because of the tightness of this network.”

The songwriting community outside of the College is less connected, though the Songwriters’ Circle is hoping to bridge gaps between musicians and encourage a sense of community among all members of the Grinnell songwriting community.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *