Songwriting Showcase shines light on students
Advertising junior Colin Tracey stepped on the stage inside of the Union on Dec. 5 with a guitar in hand. The crowd went quiet and all eyes were on him.
He began an acoustic song that echoed through the building. People in the audience whispered and watched as Tracey performed two original songs as part of the Songwriting Showcase.
The event was part of a final performance project for an MUS 210 class, a songwriting class for music majors and non-majors.
“My songs are kind of like what I think or feel like, but they are fictional lyrics, but fiction I think can be true in my life but they just haven’t been yet or they are not at the moment,” Tracey said.
Tracey plays guitar and is a vocalist. He said he has written about six songs and will continue to write more in the future.
“Most of my songs are about a guy and a girl or something of that nature, and that is not really the situation I am in or have been in awhile,” Tracey said. “It is kind of more like, 'this is what I wish it was but it is not.' Even if it is not a happy love song, even if it is a sad song, it is still something I wish I was going through but I am not.”
Tracey described his sound as a crossover between John Mayer and Jack Johnson. He said he wants to maintain an original sound while playing in the realm of those two artists.
“He (John Mayer) is the only reason I play guitar and the reason I make music in general,” Tracey said.
Tracey said he does not get nervous in front of crowds, but he does sometimes struggle with creating an idea for a song.
“For me the biggest challenge is actually committing to an idea,” Tracey said. “It is so easy to scrap something after the first verse, so I think it is really just sticking with it until the end and realizing it was not as bad of a song as I thought it was.”
Tracey said he does not know if playing his songs professionally is in the cards for him, but he does enjoy the art of performance.
Music education senior Kalli Allen performed two songs at the Songwriting Showcase. Both were original songs influenced by her life experiences, she said. Allen said she wants to teach elementary music education to inspire children and encourage creativity.
“I had mostly negative experiences with music but in high school I had a very positive experience, but it made me think I could have hated music if I didn’t have this one positive experience,” Allen said. “I want to be an elementary music teacher so they have a good impression of music right from the get-go.”
Allen is a lead vocalist who also plays guitar and piano. She described her style as more focused on storytelling.
“I think this is a really great class,” Allen said. “From a music education standpoint ... in choir and band we don’t do a lot of improv or songwriting, so it is cool to have a class like this where I can be so creative because as a teacher I want to encourage my students to be creative. I can take what I learned in this class and make some songwriting projects.”
Doctoral student Mark Adams, who teaches MUS 210, said he is a singer songwriter himself. He said he has enjoyed working with the students in the class and is proud of their final products.
“This is why we need to have majors and non-majors interacting with each other because a nursing student comes in and performs this really killer song and this psychology major comes in and performs this really killer song and music major comes in and performs a killer song ... people can see that music exists in all of these different backgrounds,” Adams said.
Besides the Songwriting Showcase, students in MUS 210 also completed a four to five song extended play, or EP, albums for the class. Adams said some students us this EP project to make an album they can sell.
“It is really great thing to able to work with students who are talking about all these emotional or personal stories that they are willing to share with other people,” Adams said. “Whether it makes a top 10 record is besides the point, it is just being able to promote something, being able to create something.”