Online Master's Degree Course

Culminating Experience in Songwriting 1

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Course Code: OSONG-693

Next Semester Starts
June 27, 2022

Level 6 - Degree Only

Level 6

In Culminating Experience 1, you will work one-on-one with a course facilitator to develop a portfolio of original work. You will be required to write songs as well as create professional sounding demos. Your private course facilitator will provide feedback and guidance on your project.

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Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • make a creative contribution to the profession
  • design and execute an original project
  • produce a professional piece of academic and/or creative work
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors Request Info


Lesson 1: Proposal

  • Culminating Experience in Songwriting Requirements
  • The Culminating Experience in Songwriting Proposal
  • Assignment 1: Culminating Experience Proposal

Lesson 2: First Song

  • Assignment 2: First new song due

Lesson 3: Second Song

  • Assignment 3: Second new song due

Lesson 4: Third Song

  • Assignment 4: Third new song due

Lesson 5: Fourth Song

  • Assignment 5: Fourth new song due and First draft of co-write

Lesson 6: Fifth Song

  • Assignment 6: Fifth new song due

Lesson 7: Sixth Song

  • Assignment 7: Co-write Song

Lesson 8: Seventh Song

  • Assignment 8: Seventh Song and Multi-Track Song

Lesson 9: Eighth Song

  • Assignment 9: Eighth Song due

Lesson 10: Ninth Song

  • Assignment 10: Multi-Track Song Revision

Lesson 11: Tenth Song

  • Assignment 11.1: Tenth Song
  • Assignment 11.2: Reflect on Your Participation

Lesson 12: Next Steps

  • Polish Three–Five Songs


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements

Completion of Genre Survey for Songwriters: Analysis and Application, Writing and Analyzing Hit Songs, and Artistry, Innovation, and a Sustainable Career in the Music Industry is required.

Required Textbook(s)

  • None required

Software Requirements

  • Full-featured DAW such as Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Cubase Pro, Ableton, Studio One, Reason, FL Studio

Hardware Requirements

  • Audio interface
  • XLR microphone (large diaphragm condenser recommended)

After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact for any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of  Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Bonnie Hayes


Bonnie Hayes serves as the chair of Berklee’s Songwriting department. She has more than 35 years of experience as an educator, songwriter, producer, performer, and recording artist. During her career, she has been signed to five record deals and five writing deals, and toured as a side musician with Billy Idol and Cris Williamson. She has written songs for Bonnie Raitt, Cher, Bette Midler, David Crosby, Robert Cray, Adam Ant, and Booker T. & the MG’s, and produced more than 40 records. She designed and implemented the youth program for the Blue Bear School of Music in San Francisco, and has taught piano, guitar, theory, songwriting, and composition to thousands of students at institutions throughout the US.

Mike Sempert


Michael Sempert’s music is equal parts heart and craft, lifeblood and elegant design. He has composed original scores for award-winning indie films including Love in Dangerous Times, Roads to Olympia, and Sex Weather. His collaboration with Austin, Texas–based filmmakers on the indie feature films A Room Full of Nothing and Homestate yielded original film scores rooted in cosmic American music. His scoring work with auteur filmmaker Jon Garcia draws from analog, synth-based ambient music.

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Sempert has scored TV movies Bixler High Private Eye (Nickelodeon) and The Kid Who Only Hit Homers. His original songs have been licensed for television by ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, Netflix’s Bloodline, and many more. In 2015, he and composer Peter Bayne cofounded West Channel, a commercial music house whose clients include Electrolux, Disney Jr., Visa, and the nonprofits Change Heroes, Honor Flight, and the UN Foundation.

Sempert graduated from the double-degree program at Tufts University and New England Conservatory of Music in his home town of Boston with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Music in jazz composition. While living in the Bay Area, California, Sempert led the band Birds & Batteries, writing and producing five critically acclaimed albums and performing hundreds of shows around the U.S. His first solo album, Mid Dream (2014), included the song “Finest Line,” which was licensed for TV, as well as viral videos accruing over 22 million views on YouTube. In 2015, he released an album of instrumental electronic music under the moniker of Volcanic Legacy, with companion video remixes of BBC’s Planet Earth. His second solo album, Tend the Flame, was released in 2017 and features the single “Distance,” which has been licensed by multiple TV shows and accrued over half a million plays on Spotify. Sempert’s third solo album, Reunion of Sparks, was released on Infinity Maps in 2019. Due in 2022, his second LP as Volcanic Legacy, Foolish Magic, is influenced by the music of Earth Wind & Fire, the Bee Gees, Milton Nascimento, and Zapp. Read Less

Valerie Orth


Valerie Orth is a music producer, songwriter, and activist. Self possessed and fierce, Valerie’s path is multi-faceted and spans across many genres. Finding home on stage at age 5, Valerie performed consistently for 15 years in musical theater. While attending Tufts University, she hung around the radio station, improvising over DJ’s beats. Wanting to accompany herself, she picked up guitar. She moved to San Francisco, became a righteous singer/songwriter, independently released 4 albums, and toured with her rock band. Valerie found home again when she moved to NYC and rooted herself in the female beatmaking scene, where she learned, performed, and eventually started teaching electronic music production. She also wrote and produced for Warner Chappell Music Publishing and other music houses.

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Valerie is now an Assistant Professor in the Songwriting Department at Berklee College of Music, teaching music technology and production. She is the recipient of the Berklee Faculty Fellowship 2022-2023 for Palestine Beats, Palestine’s first songwriting, music production, and Nonviolent Communication program, which Valerie designed and teaches.

Previous educator and activist roles include co-leading the NYC chapter of Beats By Girlz, teaching Ableton Live to often economically-disadvantaged girls, trans, gender-expansive and non-binary youth. Valerie also developed and ran beatmaking intensives at various high schools, was a songwriting mentor for the Stuttering Association for Youth in NYC, and co-founded Song Camp, a music production and songwriting virtual camp that focuses on building co-writing, collaboration and communication skills. Read Less

Sean Hagon


Sean Hagon is chair of Berklee College of Music's Professional Music Department. Hagon is a Berklee alumnus and an accomplished educator, composer, and conductor with years of experience in the film, television, video game, and advertising industries.

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Hagon most recently served as director of Continuing Education at New England Conservatory from 2009 to 2014, where he taught courses in music technology, introduced online curriculum, and increased enrollment in certificate programs. Prior to his time at NEC, he was director of music at Pingree School in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, where he directed jazz and chamber music ensembles, and launched the school's first music technology lab.

Hagon has a degree in professional music from Berklee, where he focused on music technology, education, and composition. He also received a diploma in media composition from the London School of Creative Studies, where he studied with noted composer and orchestrator Charles Fernandez (Band of Brothers, 101 Dalmatians). He also received a master's degree in music technology from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. Read Less

Scarlet Keys


Scarlet Keys has been a Professor in the Songwriting department of the Berklee College of Music for the past 15 years, holds a BM in Music from Berklee and is a former staff writer for Warner Chappell. 

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Scarlet has had a gold record in Sweden, topped the charts in Britain and has songs recorded in the U.S. by award winning artists spanning genres from jazz, country, Americana, folk and pop.

Her songs have appeared on film and TV. as well as national commercials and Scarlet has worked with and collaborated with artists such as Chris Stapleton, Gretchen Wilson, Emily West, Golden Globe nominee Monty Powell to name a few.

Scarlet’s former students include: Charlie Puth , Charlie Worsham, Liz Longley and Betty Who and many up and coming new artists.

Scarlet continues to write, perform and teach both at Berklee and songwriting clinics across the U.S. Read Less

Eric Leva


Eric Leva is a songwriter, singer, producer, and classically trained pianist from Massachusetts. Leva has studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and Berklee College of Music. Following his studies, Leva spent time in New York City to hone his craft and develop his writing. A songwriting award from the ASCAP Foundation eventually sparked a move to Los Angeles to pursue more collaborations. His recent releases include Kesha, DNCE, Wes Period, and Rozzi.


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at

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