Online Master's Degree Course

Culminating Experience in Songwriting 1

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Course Code: OSONG-693

Next semester
starts April 1

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

Syllabus

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

Requirements

Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Completion of Music Career Strategies: Brand Identity Development for Artists, Songwriters, and Producers, Songwriting Tools and Techniques, Music Demo Production for Songwriters, and Songs Unmasked: Techniques and Tips for Songwriting Success is required.

Recording

  • Students are required to produce multitrack recordings of their songs, including vocals and instrumental accompaniment (live instruments and/or MIDI sequencing).

Software

  • Full-featured DAW, such as Pro Tools (Studio or Ultimate), Logic Pro, Cubase Pro, Ableton Live (Suite or Standard), Reaper, Reason, or FL Studio (Producer or Signature). Note that GarageBand is not acceptable.

Hardware

  • MIDI keyboard controller
  • Audio interface
  • XLR microphone (large diaphragm condenser recommended) and cable
  • Studio monitors (pair), such as JBL 305Ps or better, as well as necessary cables
  • Closed back, over-ear studio headphones such as Sony MDR-7506 or better

Other

  • Microphone stand
  • Pop filter

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact support@online.berklee.edu with 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

Instructors

Bonnie Hayes

Instructor

Bonnie Hayes 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

Instructor

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


Sean Hagon

Instructor

Sean Peter Hagon (he/him) is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and orchestrator for the film, television, and advertisement industries, and the chief creative officer and managing partner of Raging Cloud Studios. As dean of pre-college, online, and professional programs at Berklee Online, Hagon oversees Berklee Online's academic and registrar areas as well as Summer Programs. He previously served as associate dean of career education and services and as chair of the Professional Music Department at Berklee. Prior to his appointment at Berklee, he was the director of continuing education at New England Conservatory. He's also a visiting professor at the Universidad Panamericana School of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, Mexico. An active film and television composer, he has a number of TV and film composing credits to his name, including the History Channel's hit show American Pickers, PBS's Genealogy Roadshow, and the independent films Ride the Wave and Seduction and Snacks.

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A Massachusetts native, Hagon has worked in nearly every aspect of the music industry, from performance, business, composition, and education to technology and production. His educational and administrative philosophy is that he wants students to be able to have the freedom to explore and feel inspired. Most importantly, he wants students to come away with the feeling that what they have learned is relevant, real-world–based knowledge and skills that they can immediately apply, tempered with an entrepreneurial spirit and the mindset to continue to learn and adapt throughout their careers.

Hagon holds a B.M. in professional music from Berklee with concentrations in music education, music production, and film and TV composition; a master's degree in music technology from Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis; and a diploma in media composition from the London School of Creative Studies.

Hagon was the recipient of the 2010 Exemplary Music Educator Award from Berklee College of Music in recognition of his outstanding teaching and efforts to advance the music education profession. Read Less


Scarlet Keys

Instructor

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

Instructor

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.


Rodney Alejandro

Instructor

In his 30+ year career, Rodney has become recognized as a protean polymath within the entertainment industry. In his most recent rock ‘n’ roll chapter, he was a performing member of the international pop band the Script. As the keyboardist/music director, he was responsible for arranging and weaving the group's hit songs into an unforgettable concert experience. Before his tenure with the Script, Rodney built a career as a consummate professional behind the scenes. 

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Rodney’s work includes songwriting/producing chart-topping songs in the English, Latin, and Asian music markets. He has collaborated with artists such as Quincy Jones, Sting, the Temptations, and Ray Charles. Rodney has also performed with many artists from around the world including Mańa, Babyface, Sofia Carson, and Stevie Wonder among many others. His work has earned industry recognition with projects garnering Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations, winning Billboard Latin pop album of the year in 2004, and multiple gold and platinum-selling record awards. Rodney has also taken on television opportunities and was the main title composer/producer for the Golden Globe winner for best drama series The Shield, as well as the composer/music producer for the drama series Thief.

In 2006, he was honored by his alma mater Berklee College of Music as the Alumnus of the Year, and in 2011 received recognition as the Music Education Advocate of the Year from the Recording Academy Texas Chapter. Rodney is currently an associate professor at Berklee College of Music where he teaches in the Songwriting Department, sharing his knowledge and experience from his distinguished music career.

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Valerie Orth

Instructor

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


Susan Cattaneo

Instructor

Susan Cattaneo is one of Boston’s most respected singer-songwriters, blending rock and folk with a healthy dose of country. Susan won the CT Folk Festival and has been a finalist or winner at some of the country’s most prestigious songwriting and music contests including: Kerrville New Folk, Emerging Artist Falcon Ridge, the International Acoustic Music Awards, the Independent Music Awards and the USA Songwriting Competition. Her latest album The Hammer and The Heart charted #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and yielded a folk radio #1 single and top 10 album. In her 20 years teaching Songwriting at Berklee College of Music, Susan helped students work on over 15,000 songs in all musical genres and styles and mentored over 2,000 artists. She’s taught master clinics at the International Folk Conference and at regional Folk conferences (NERFA, SWRFA and SERFA). Her Songwriting Lessons has been featured in a series in American Songwriter and Guitar Magazine and her lyric writing has been featured in Pat Pattison’s award-winning books Writing Better Lyrics and Writing Beyond Boundaries.

Questions?

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