The Songwriting Works™ Experience

A most empowering, creative activity…Participants hear their own words and life experiences and are affirmed.”

Kelly Philpott Brisbois, Elder Care Advocates of Marin

Songwriting Works™ (SW) gives participants new avenues for self-expression, musical exploration, social connection and leaving a legacy in story and song. Each individual’s words, melodies, and imagination are woven into a collective tapestry as they compose original songs in collaboration with professional musicians.

Creating in a “failure-free zone” allows each person to tap into the wealth of creativity that lives inside them – regardless of their health situation or past experience with music-making. SW’s approach is research-based, building on scientific studies which demonstrate dozens of positive physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual benefits of participation in hands-on art and music-making. SW musician-facilitators draw out each individual’s creative intelligence, expression and unique contributions, maximizing the impact of their involvement. This deeply engaging musical experience can evoke laughter and tears and spark meaningful new relationships and insights even among family members who know each other well!  The present moment is embraced and celebrated. By listening, exploring and entering the realm of what’s truly possible, people soon find themselves effortlessly co-creating compelling memorable songs which communities can call their very own.

Families, friends and audiences near and far then have a chance to hear participants’ creativity, wit and vital voices via concerts, recordings and film projects that can carry their voices around the world. Attitudinal barriers and stigmas dissolve, generations are bridged, possibilities expand as dignity is restored and decades of stories, wisdom and life experiences are honored and shared.  Songs and songwriters alike find appreciative fans of all ages.


Composing “Gotta Get With It”, A Fox Trot at OlyCap Encore

Professional songwriters, elders, families and friends join together to create compelling, memorable music and perform original songs that lift the voices of individuals and their communities.

Each song carries the stories, wit, humor, history, melodies and intelligence of the people who wrote it: including those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, depression, isolation, chronic illness and other life challenges. Folks diverse in cultural and class backgrounds collaborate with professional songwriters. Workshops take place in retirement communities, classrooms, memory care facilities, and assisted living centers. No prior musical experience is required.

Inclusion guides the process every step of the way. Participants add their input into musical arrangements and instrumentation and join with professional musicians in live and recorded concerts performances, album productions and more. Volunteers and interns, diverse in age, can apprentice to SW’s professionals. Family and friends can join in.

Every Songwriting Works™ program is facilitated according to SW’s 8 Principles of Creative Engagement: access, inclusion, originality, authenticity, respect, reciprocity, restoration and celebration. SW’s team of facilitators ensure participants abundant opportunities to contribute as equals in the creative process, regardless of their physical, cognitive or verbal ability, education or prior musical experience. Freely exchanging ideas and making music together makes for a meaningful and memorable time for all. Benefits include new friendships, brain fitness (new neural connections) and healthy communities (stronger communication and cooperation).