Noel Cowley’s Review of Reg’s Songwriting Masterclass May 2013 – Under The Stars (organised by Helen Meissner Folkstock Arts Foundation)

“Today I’ve been writing a song. Nothing new in that, but it’s definitely not the kind of song I’d be writing today had I not been at Reg Meuross’ songwriting masterclass at Church Farm in Ardeley, Herts on Saturday evening. The event was organised by the Folkstock Arts Foundation.

I’ve come away from Reg’s songwriting workshop inspired not only by the two hours of discussion and song playing but by his generosity of spirit in spending another four hours til well past midnight around the bonfire afterwards allowing the songwriters and people interested in songwriting who attended to further pick his brain, hear some illuminating anecdotes from his career so far and chat more generally about all things music.

The workshop itself was stimulating from beginning to end, sprinkled with examples from Reg’s own back catalogue which he effortlessly played in the late May sunshine to illustrate aspects of songwriting that we were discussing. It was refreshing to be told, “If you want to write songs, then you’re a songwriter”. It’s easy to forget that sometimes.

You can get as technical as you want about musical terms and devices, about theory and such, and I’ve no doubt Reg certainly could if he so desired! But this workshop was all about helping the songwriter discover how he can best express himself and connect emotionally with his listener within the confines of a three or four minute burst of melody and words.

Simple but important concepts such as the focus of a song, the title of a song, making clear early in the song what it is the song is saying are examples of the kind of thing Reg helped us think about. “A good title can be 90% of the song”.

Perhaps the most educational part of the workshop was when Reg invited his audience to play one of their own songs, or a work in progress, for everyone and then to discuss it afterwards. He would tell you what, in his opinion, worked and what might be an improvement to the song. It’s crucial to be honest in this regard and it was brilliant to see and hear how his comments were appreciated. It was also as brilliant that the songwriters who were brave enough to bare their souls were encouraged to disagree as they saw fit, acknowledging that there is no one way, no formula, and that “there are no secrets”.

Reg ran this masterclass beautifully. He’s naturally affable and that comes across in the humour and gentle manner he showed throughout. There’s a subtleness to his approach that means what he says sinks in much better than were he to appear to be lecturing a class. Before you know it, you’ve got a notebook and head full of ideas for your songwriting that would have seemed fanciful that same morning. That’s what I’ve got out of it anyway! I went home from meeting Reg with renewed enthusiasm for the art/craft of songwriting, and with more direction and focus, I hope, to what I’m doing.

That song I’m working on? It’s about Emily Wilding Davison. Blame Reg.”

Reg Meuross Singer Songwriter Storyteller