Songwriting at ATLA


Signing up and paying for a Songwriting class may seem unnecessary to some people, but for many, it’s a real step forward. Over the ten years that I’ve been teaching Songwriting at the ATLA music school in Paris I’ve seen a lot students who start their songs yet can’t seem to finish them. Sound familiar? Well, a big advantage of signing up for a Songwriting class is that it teaches you to work to a deadline. Another great thing about being in a Songwriting class is listening and contributing to and learning from the work of the other students. The class size at ATLA is limited to 6 students and you get two hours of class every week.

Signing up to be a student at ATLA gives you the possibility to schedule practice time in the different classrooms from 9am to 10pm every day of the week (when they are not being used for classes) to work on your music by yourself or with other students. Singing is sometimes difficult in Paris, but in the different practice rooms you can belt to your heart’s content and it won’t bother anyone! All of the practice rooms are equipped with a mixing table hooked up to a sound system and there are guitars, basses and keyboards available for the students to use. Singers are asked to buy their own personal mics; usually an SM58 mic is the best bet.

 When you sign up for a class at ATLA, you are entitled to participate in the Jams held in the Woodstock performance space at the school every Wednesday and Thursday night from 7pm to 10pm. There are different themes for most of them, everything from a Soul night to Heavy Metal, Michael Jackson and James Brown to Reggae nights with the songs of Bob Marley, and many other styles. The house band is run by Sev Avispa with professional players who often sit in with the students. The Jam nights are a fantastic way to meet other like-minded music students, talk with them at the bar and perhaps get them interested in working with you on your music. Many spontaneous groups have started at ATLA and some continue to flourish. For example, a Songwriting student of mine met her musicians at the school and they’ve just released their first two 5 song EPs: meet HALLEY. You are also entitled to go to all the Master Classes and concerts at Woodstock, and often there are ATLA discounts for concerts and music equipment in Paris. You can even get good cheap food at the Cafette which has been run for years by our friendly Ingrid; the other “chefs” are ATLA students!

We are currently running a partnership with the ICMP music school in London, and there are regular student and teacher exchanges in place. We’ve even had 2 Songwriting Contests where the winners got a professional video clip of their winning song: one from the ICMP, the other from ATLA. There are many other classes at ATLA and you can sign up for anything from a single class à la carte to a full program of 20, 22 and 24 hours per week that will lead to the ATLA diploma and with the possibility of getting the MIMA diploma from the FNEIJMA organization.

My Songwriting classes are in English (I speak French fluently as well), you can find a good explanation of ATLA in English but you should know that most of the other classes are in French, so if you’re thinking of coming to the City of Lights to study music, you’ll have to bone up on your French. There are also creative classes in Chanson Française with Jean-Jacques Nyssen and a Rap class with well known French rapper KoHndo.

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