Paul Reisler describes songwriting as a delicate balance between words and structure. "The words are in the music, the music in the words," Reisler said.
A member of the band Trapezoid and founder of Kid Pan Alley — an organization that teaches songwriting to children — Reisler has been teaching songwriting workshops since the early 1990s. And on Friday, he will team up with Beth Nielsen Chapman, Annie Roboff and Steve Seskin to teach his first workshop in northern Utah: the Snowbird Song School.
"They are the strongest staff there has ever been for a songwriting camp," Reisler said. "They are not only top writers, but amazing teachers." Chapman is a singer/songwriter who, with Roboff and Robin Lerner wrote "This Kiss" — made famous by Faith Hill. She also wrote "Happy Girl," sung by Martina McBride, and "Nothing I Can Do About It Now," sung by Willie Nelson.
Trish Gale of the Intermountain Acoustic Music Association describes Chapman as a talented performer and songwriter. "She is dynamic — absolutely dynamic," Gale said. "She puts on one of the best concerts . . . she can sing any moment of the day."
Gale also describes Roboff and Seskin the same way. "Steve is a very dynamic performer. It's fun to see him doing his own songs — he's real casual, just an everyday guy." Seskin is also a singer/songwriter; he wrote "Grown Men Don't Cry," sung by Tim McGraw, and co-wrote "Don't Laugh At Me," sung by Mark Wills. Roboff wrote "There Goes My Baby," sung by Trisha Yearwood, and "Walkin' Away," sung by Diamond Rio.
Bob Cantonwine of the Intermountain Acoustic Music Association says Reisler, Chapman, Roboff and Seskin are four of the country's most successful songwriters. "These are the people that write the songs for the stars. These are the people that make them famous."
Cantonwine added, "What's cool about this particular workshop is that you can receive one-on-one attention from people with an enormous amount of experience and success."
Sponsored by the Intermountain Acoustic Music Association and the Idaho Acoustic Arts Association, the Snowbird Song School will feature lessons on lyric writing, melody, dramatic structure, co-writing, harmony, intuitive structure and directed writing. According to Reisler these lessons help people to develop a broader horizon and learn to express a "myriad of ideas." "There are so many things you can learn," he said.
Reisler wants to help people rediscover the creativity they had as kids. "Everyone has creativity in them, but it's trained out of us."
During the workshop, Reisler will lead students through a series of steps and techniques designed to foster this creativity. "There are tools and techniques to get the brain working in different ways."
In addition to songwriting, students and community members are invited to listen to Reisler, Chapman, Roboff and Seskin as they perform their own songs during a Friday night concert.
"I hope people will take advantage of the concert," Reisler said. "These are wonderful writers that will be singing their own songs. There is a different feeling and meaning when the writers sing their own songs."
If you go . . .
What: Master Songwriters in Concert
Where: The Historic Murray Theater, 4973 S. State
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
How much: $16; $14 in advance
Snowbird Workshop . . .
What: Snowbird Song School
Where: Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort
When: Friday-June 15
Cost: $300 (includes concert)
Also: For special-rate room reservations at Snowbird Resort, call 1-800-453-3000 and mention Idaho Acoustic Arts Association