Folkus Project of CNY
great acoustic music, pure and unpasteurized


Words & Music Songwriter Woodshed

Words & MusicA monthly gathering of songwriters, offering encouragement, criticism, and a sophisticated "first audience" for songs in progress.

Meeting the first Wednesday of every month / Sign-Ups: 6 p.m. / First song: 6:30 p.m. / Nine slots are available / first come, first served

Location: Liverpool Library (310 Tulip Street), Sargent Room

For info on the upcoming meeting, join our e-mail list or contact Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers or Join our Facebook Group!

The Words and Music Songwriter Woodshed is a place for local songwriters of all levels to test brand-new and not-quite-completed songs on an audience made up of their peers -- that is, other songwriters. The goal is to use the reactions of others to help you judge and improve your own songwriting efforts.

And in our new format it's also a chance to perform. Each night we will mix 15-minute critique sessions with non-critiqued performance segments. Just get up and do one. Participants will be able to choose which format they prefer — with critique or without, or maybe both, if time allows.

The Words and Music Songwriter Woodshed is presented in conjunction with Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers' Words and Music Songwriter Showcase -- a semi-regular concert series held at various locations around Central New York, featuring local songwriters. For more info, go to

How the Woodshed critique works. At each meeting, each songwriter will be given a chance to play and sing an in-progress song. The rest of the group will be given a few moments to review the song's lyrics. And for the remainder of the time slot, discussion will take place, as appropriate. There is no set format for discussion, although the session has a moderator to help keep conversation on track and to keep everything on time. (Non-songwriters also sometimes attend and weigh in, although the comments of fellow songwriters are given first priority.)

What you need to bring. Bring your instrument, or take your chances on borrowing one from another participant. You are strongly encouraged to bring at least 10 (and better still 15) copies of your lyrics; fold lyric sheets in half, unreadable, as they will be distributed before your song but opened and read only after your song is played.

Bring a song you consider still a work in progress. Do not present a song that you are not willing to further revise; to do so is a waste of everyone's time. You should arrive eager to change your song -- perhaps radically! Incomplete songs are permissible, but songs should be fleshed out well enough that everyone can sense and judge their overall effect.

How to comment. There are no rules for the conversation, except that candor should always be tempered by empathy. Songwriting is a personal and sometimes mysterious process. Be honest, but constructive. Beyond that, everything is fair game -- individual word choices, chord choices, melodies, tempos, the sense of entire verses or plot-lines or even the entire song! The goal is to help the songwriter understand whether the song transmits to a listener what he or she intended.

Where's it happening? In April, we're moving again. We'll now be located at the Liverpool Library (310 Tulip Street) in the Sargent Room.

Who gets to do a song? Song-slots will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. When you arrive , find the night's moderator and request your slot. Slots will be assigned starting at 6; the Woodshed starts at 6:30 and goes until 9.

As many a songwriter -- amateur and professional alike -- will tell you, a woodshed is one of the most valuable ways you have to help move your new song from a good first draft to a piece of art that audience members are likely to appreciate as much as you did when writing it. Plus, this is a great chance to meet and connect with other songwriters in the area. Please come to the Words and Music Songwriting Woodshed and let's have a great time sharing and discussing the magical craft of songwriting.


Address questions about this website to Dana Cooke,

Woodshed Guidelines

When presenting your song, it's best not to make introductions. It eats into your time and alters the way your listeners hear the song. On rare occasions (in the Woodshed, as in performance) a song benefits from a little set-up; that's okay. But all the typical advance hedging and apologizing for the flaws in the upcoming song only slow down the Woodshed and corrupt everyone's untainted, virgin experience with the song.

Please bring songs you intend to revise. And, if you bring a song back for a second go-round, do so only after making some or all of the revisions from the earlier sessions; and yet, be ready to make even more revisions if they prove necessary.

When commenting on others' songs, be efficient. Think out your comments and keep them pithy. Remember, each songwriter gets only 15-20 minutes; don't squander another's time.

Recording devices are advisable. It's an easy way to remember all the comments offered by your peers.

No noodling. Please do not play or sing along on other people's songs unless you are very very specifically requested to.