Songwriting Studio Q&A


Discover your voice and make meaningful friendships! Our Teen Summer Workshops (for 11-14 year olds) provide students with an intensive, enriching writing experience that not only fosters open creative expression but also builds confidence and strengthens communication skills in a safe, supportive environment.

We would love for you to join us, whether you’ve been writing for years or just want to be part of a unique creative process.

We spoke with Mimi Cross, who is teaching our “Songwriting Studio” summer workshop (August 19-23, 1 to 4 p.m.; ages 11-14) as well as our “Songwriting Intensive” for adults, to find out what she loves about making music.

Read more and register here.

PWN: When did you write your first song and what was it about?

MIMI: The first song I ever wrote was called “Me, Myself, and I,” and I wrote it with my best friend Sarah when we were in Kindergarten. Fun fact: In 1980, British singer-songwriter guitarist and three-time Grammy Award nominee Joan Armatrading released an album called “Me Myself I.” The title track became one of her most successful singles! P.S. Sarah and I are still very good friends.

PWN: What current song moves you, whether bopping in your seat or stirring up another emotion? How do you think the song achieves that effect?

MIMI: Wow, that’s a tough one. There are so many great songs out there! One of my current favorites is “Shallow” from the soundtrack of A Star Is Born. There are several reasons why that song moves so many people, starting with the singers. But even if we took Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper out of the equation, “Shallow” would be an amazing song. The lyrics are both personally and universally appealing, and the melody, chord progressions, and harmony all play a part in making this song a hit. Above all, it may be the structure of the song that gives me the most goosebumps. When Lady Gaga hits that pre-chorus … Well, let’s just say, that’s when my nerve endings leap to attention. I’ve chosen this song, among others, to dissect in the Songwriting Intensive this summer. So if you want to know more about what makes “Shallow” tick, sign up!

PWN: What happens in a songwriting class?

MIMI: The first thing I do in “Songwriting Studio” and “Songwriting Intensive” is show participants a quick and easy way to connect with topics that matter deeply to them. Once we begin to explore these ideas, what I call “song starts” will quickly follow. Those starts turn into lines of lyrics, and we go on from there, studying structure and “building” a song. I’ve designed specific writing exercises to facilitate the songwriting process, but they work for any type of writing, which is a plus.

PWN: What moment in the classroom/studio gets you excited as an instructor?

MIMI: There are a lot of exciting moments in a songwriting class, but at some point, the ideas usually start flowing so quickly I can’t keep up! So maybe the most exciting moment is when I pull out my phone to make a quick recording. It might be a chorus, or maybe a couple of verses—sometimes ideas move so fast, I need to get them down before they disappear. Just get it down. That’s probably the best advice I have for any kind of writer. Write your words and ideas down in a notebook, on a napkin—wherever! Record those phrases. Lyrics. Thoughts. Edit later. Revise later. Just get it down!

PWN: Why do you write?

MIMI: I write because I’d be unhappy if I didn’t.

Read more and register here.

Mimi Cross is a Writing Instructor for Project Write Now.