Community building through original music-making is central to Songwriting Works’ vision and mission. Inter-cultural, inter-generational and inter-faith programs and workshops give elders and others of all walks of life and health the opportunity to connect with one another and be seen, respected, and heard by the larger community through song.
Songwriting becomes a new way to explore and express common concerns, dreams, and truths. Trained facilitators honor each person’s contributions throughout the process opening the way for further stories and expanded understandings to be shared. Lyrics are drawn from participants’ ideas and natural speech, humor, rhythms, turns of phrase, and stories. Authenticity is key. Original music springs from cultural roots and knowledge based in decades of listening. Elders have composed songs in a variety of styles including gospel, blues, klezmer, polka, Latin , Russian, bluegrass, country, old-time, jazz, folk, and rock. Youth have added rap and hip-hop to the mix.
Faith and heritage are pillars of strength and sustenance for many elders, their families and communities. Since its founding in 1990, Songwriting Works has engaged older adults – from independent community dwellers to residents in long-term
care – in composing songs that reflect their deepest beliefs
and values. Many describe the experience as “affirming,” “uplifting,” “spiritually meaningful,” and “soul-satisfying.”
As their words, melodies, rhythms, emotions, humor, and heritage stories take shape from scratch in an original song, they embody the process of creation. Completed songs and chants can be shared with the larger community.
Songwriting Works’ interfaith and heritage-specific workshops bring the generally secular practice of songwriting into the sacred realm. Workshops are designed in conjunction with ordained clergy, lay leaders, spiritual teachers, healers, and community artists. Sessions become entry ways into personal and communal spiritual inquiry and reflection. Music-making and meaning-making come alive through sacred song. Beliefs are explored and celebrated in a process that honor diversity, expands understanding, and celebrates the essence of life.
Whether paying tribute to community leaders, reminiscing about times in nature and times in history, or celebrating the miracle of grandchildren and grandparents, Songwriting Works gives voice to what’s most meaningful for people and their communities. Performances become celebrations of heritage, era, and place: a cultural musical tapestry to be long remembered.
“My work with Judith-Kate Friedman is one of the highlights of my twenty-five years as a rabbi.
I consider it a turning point in my work with Jewish elders.” --- Rabbi Sheldon Marder,
Chaplain Jewish Home, San Francisco,
co-founder of the Psalms, Songs and Stories™ Project
Co-founded by Judith-Kate Friedman and Rabbi Sheldon Marder in 2003, Psalms, Songs and Stories™ gives elders and others an opportunity to engage in an intensive journey into study of the Psalms and the power of song. This multi-session process combines the Songwriting Works’ approach with extensive text study and reflection on the book of Psalms.
As participants explore the meaning of a Psalm, they find words and music to express their relationship to God, to self, to their loved ones and community, and to reflect upon their lives and the mystery of Life itself.
Workshops have been held in community, congregational and residential care settings, providing new outlets for exploration of aging, spirit, and music as an ancient and brand new carrier of meaning.
To learn more about Psalms, Songs and Stories™ contact us: 360.385.1160