Inspirational songwriting and composition sessions delivered by a diverse range of successful & established musicians involved across many musical genres.

These concept sessions are geared towards young composers / music students from Scottish high schools aiming to equip them with unique songwriting ideas, creative compositional skills and the exciting opportunity to be around professional musicians who can talk freely about their craft.

Videos from the sessions can be viewed on our Youtube page.
Photographs from the sessions can be viewed on our Flickr page.

Past sessions include:


During this 90 minute session, Adam talks about his love for music, his methods of composition, improvisation, how to practice, career options and the history of Scottish traditional music and how pupils can fall in love with it.

Angus Lyon

Angus looks into the different styles of Scottish tune forms (strathspeys, reels, jig, marches) followed by a step by step guide to writing melodies. He’ll then go over the basic structure of these tunes, how to adapt an effective melody, basic harmony, finding a hook & how to work out a chord arrangement.

James Lindsay

James focuses on cross-genre concepts and the ways in which you can integrate different influences into your own compositions. He looks at some rhythmic, melodic and harmonic ideas as well as discussing thoughts on improvising and some of the distinctive characteristics that make up different musical styles.

Josie Duncan

The session will focus on creating lyrics, ways to over come writers block, the rules of song structure and rhyme schemes as well as when and how to effectively break these rules.

Jay Capperauld

This session from the young Scottish composer is aimed at those Higher and Advanced Higher music students who are starting out their first endeavours in composition. In collaboration with Hebrides Ensemble, this all-encompassing concept session will focus on what is involved in writing a piece of music from the very beginning through to the end of the compositional process. With practical demonstrations, compositional games and a Q&A with Hebrides Ensemble’s Chief Executive Jennifer Martin, Jay will give advice and confidence to young composers by speaking openly about his personal experiences in music and by providing a fresh approach to writing music.

Matthew Whiteside

During this 90 minute session Matthew will share with the students his music and his history to give an insight into his compositional practice (exploring the use of technology and classical instruments) and how he has developed a career within music and the realities of that career. The aim is to both encourage students to pursue music but not to shy away from the realities of that path.

Nae Plans

In this 90 minute workshop, Hamish and Adam will share their love of folk tunes and songs. They will reveal why they never rehearse as a duo, and what kinds of ideas and thoughts tend to go through their heads as they create off-the-cuff arrangements of tunes and songs at live gigs. They?ll discuss their approach to chords, developing melodies and creating arraignment structures on the spot. Highly informative, inspiring, totally zen and extremely uplifting for the soul!’

Ross Leighton

Songwriter for Scottish band Fatherson. With roots in folk and alternative rock music, Leighton has been writing and performing for the last ten years and has had music featured in various BBC and channel 4 productions. In addition to this has been collaborating with many young songwriters in different projects trying to share his experience as a songwriter in the music industry. In this session he talks honestly about his writing and what inspires him as a songwriter.

Bella Hardy

Recently returned from a month long songwriting residency in Nashville, Bella will be tackles the big questions;
why do we write?
What is our purpose and what is our goal?
She explores some of the road blocks of writing such as finding starting points and getting songs finished, and she takes you through her own experiences and inspirations, from traditional song to worldwide travel.

Hamish Napier

Hamish chose to focus on ?Harmony? – ‘what chord goes where’, and ‘what notes to pick to make your melody feel good’ in a fresh, dead-easy way that isn?t boring. He spoke in depth about modes and scales and how they influence the tone and feel of your composition.

Dean Owens

Dean discussed his music, based around acoustic guitar and voice, and demonstrated how simple and how much fun it can be to write songs. Most classic rock and country songs are based around a very basic 2 or 3 chords, a seemingly inexhaustible source of permutations and inspiration. The workshop focussed on Dean?s particular interests in Americana, country rock/roots music.


This session focussed on writing for the players in your band & how to write for different instruments you may not play, explore the strengths and weaknesses of the group, included How to write a groove, writing for horns, developing an idea/hook. How to get an idea in your head transformed into a playable song! How to manage the band mates and get the most out of them. Explore developing an idea/hook and arranging it for your band. How to get an idea in your head transformed into a playable song! And, What do you want to achieve with your band / artist?


Alasdair gave some insight into his personal approach to the craft of songwriting. Featuring his own songwriting as well as his interpretations of traditional songs and ballads from Scotland and further afield. He spoke about his self-written songs drawing in various ways (lyrically, melodically, thematically) upon his interest in traditional song, among other sources.


RM Hubbert and Emma Pollock discuss songwriting in the context of their own respective solo careers as well as with regards to their collaborative work, writing together for each other?s individual albums. Topics such as motivation to write, song structure, listening skills, the benefits (and drawbacks!) of the self-taught approach will be covered as well as an invitation for general discussion prompted by a Q and A session at the end.


Robert looks at the process of songwriting, including chord progressions, melodic hooks, lyrical content, structuring and elements of production. The idea is to provide new writers with an insight in to how to initially create songs from scratch, and also to give more established young writers some tips on some slightly more advanced aspects of composition.


This session explains the importance of a solid rhythm section in a Jazz trio. Euan discusses the elements that make up a rhythm section and goes through some tunes to demonstrate the inner workings and the best way to make good use of great musicians.


Ross Wilson (Blue Rose Code) talks freely about finding your own voice and having the courage to be authentic because, in the end, audiences will always know if you don’t believe in what you’re doing. He has worked for years at trying to be truthful and personal in song and there are many tricks and tips to share, a real shorthand for songwriters. He talks about methods and practice, delivery and performance and encourages participants.


Louis of Admiral Fallow and Findlay Napier spent time looking at some of their material and dissecting the lyrics, chords and structure to explain how the songs were formed and the changes that took place as they were written. They spoke about being musicians and the challenges and benefits, and gave insight into being songwriters.

rachel sermanni

Rachel has been writing songs in a professional capacity for 4 years but on a playful capacity since she was very young. The playfulness has remained. She feels sometimes when songwriting, the professional aspect is best ignored. The element of play will be the theme for talking about writing and how she begins her compositions and songwriting. Because, essentially, that’s all it is. She will encourage you to tap into your childishness when considering creativity and songwriting.

david donaldson

Grammy Award Winner David Donaldson covered some of the modern compositional tools available in Digital Audio Workstations today. David demonstrated some of his working methods that he utilises when working to picture, many of which was helpful to those who were just starting out in music production. Topics covered included sound design, basic arrangement skills and dealing with writers inline-block.

oliver searle

Composer and lecturer, Oliver demonstrates a range of techniques that can be used to begin composing, with reference to a wide variety of acoustic music. Live demonstrations of many of these musical techniques and concepts will be given by a small ensemble of musicians, who will provide the opportunity to create and perform a short work, using some of the ideas discussed in the session.

boo hewerdine

With over 400 songs recorded by such artists as Eddi Reader, kd Lang, Chris Difford, Kris Drever, Heidi Talbot and many more, Boo talks about understanding song structure and how it can help you concentrate on inspiration rather than the mechanics of writing.

kim edgar

Edinburgh-based pianist and songwriter Kim Edgar took a group of young Scottish high school students through her process of songwriting and arranging in this informal session. Throughout the session there was opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the creative process behind the finished songs. Kim spent the session looking into generating ideas, staying organised with your lyrics, chord structures, collaborations & the importance of being critical of your own work and being able to improve it.

alex smoke

Composer, DJ and Producer, Alex Smoke led an interactive music workshop combining electronic music production and orchestral composition. This session looked into using sampling, MIDI programming and using found sounds to create something entirely new and interesting.

peter gregson

Cellist and Composer working at the forefront of the new music scene. Peter demonstrated using small sections of pop music as an inspiration for writing compositions. This session looked at trends in music production and using music technology to achieve effects and interesting sounds.

james grant

Commonly regarded as one of the best songwriters around, as the frontman in the band LOVE AND MONEY he’s toured the world and sold half a million records. In his session James spoke about the craft of songwriting, how he came to do it, some of the tools of the trade…and some tricks to get started.

carol laula

With a wealth of experience in the music business, coupled with a great experience of working with people, young and old and with varying abilities and skills, Carol Laula took young composers / songwriters through a basic process of how to write a song from beginning ideas through lyrics and song structure. This session also resulted in one of the participants having the opportunity to perform during Carol’s tour of the highlands.

findlay napier

This creative workshop from one of Scotlands’ great musicians and songwriters covered interesting and fun ways to work on chord structure and lyric writing through various techniques using rhyme, cliches and descriptive writing.

a band called quinn

Singer/songwriter Louise Quinn & producer Bal Cooke from Glasgow indie pop group deconstruct their forthcoming single Wolf Cries Boy & remix it. Bal & Louise demonstrated how the track was produced & participants were invited to record new parts with the resulting remix being released on Tromolo Records.