THERE was the hint of a song in the air.
It lifted and soared as 30 young people aged 13 to 17 answered the call from Bega, Eden Marine and Narooma High Schools, as well as Lumen Christi Catholic College and Sapphire Coast Anglican College.
The young musicians converged at The Crossing Land Education Trust during December, and for three days it was all “for the sake of that song” - finding out where it came from, how to access it, how to give it form and put it across to an audience, how to overcome any blocks that are in the way.
Through the days and into the nights at The Crossing, there was no shortage of encouragement and inspiration for the young participants to bring their songs to life.
Local singer/songwriters Daniel Champagne, Heath Cullen and Sam McMahon were around to share some personal compositions and the pathways they followed to achieve them.
Musicians Dave Crowden, Corey Legge, Damon Davies, Shanti Ramana and Ricky Bloomfield helped the young songwriters-in-training to identify the elements that make up a song and the way in which these work together to create a feeling, a mood, a message.
Tutors David Willis (staff member at Eden Marine High School) and Michael Menager (mental health clinician with the newly formed Southern NSW Medicare Local) – along with guitarist/writer Melanie Horsnell, and volunteer tutors pianist/singer Nick Marshall and pianist/composer Kade Brown – provided musical and person-centred input to keep the process of creation in motion.
The nerves, uncertainties and doubts that the young people brought with them very quickly transformed into curiosity, genuine interest and excitement.
The various facilitators encouraged group brainstorming, experimentation, visualisations and sharing, and The Crossing itself provided a welcoming and protective space for individuals and groups to keep going - on couches scattered through the main gathering room, under the adjoining verandah fitted out with a piano and electric keyboard, in various nooks and crannies around the grounds, or under the shade of
The buzz was constant, sometimes rising into crescendos of sound, sometimes just blending in with the gentle presence of the wind and birds and insects through the long summery days and nights.
And then – at the stroke of 2.30 on Wednesday afternoon, as participants’ parents and family drifted down the dirt track and into The Crossing from various parts of the shire – the closing concert began.
All of the work, all of the time, all of the thought and effort suddenly manifested as a stunning palette of songs.
Some fragments of works in progress, some remarkably complete and polished, but all with the capacity to reach out and touch hearts.
The circle was complete - those faint notes in the air that had brought everyone together had finally come to life.
And it was clear to anyone listening what began over three days together will continue to grow over the coming weeks and months.
The results of the songwriters camp will be shown in a special concert on The Crossing Stage at the Cobargo Folk Festival on the last weekend of February.
Thanks were offered to those people who made donations to the project so The Crossing was able to provide subsidised places to all participants, while special acknowledgement was given to the Yuin Folk Club for its continuing visionary support of young musicians on the South Coast.