An intense, unforgettable week. UA2014

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

SO I have just gotten back from 7 days filled with music, music and more music! A little over a week ago I flew to London where I attended a weeklong intense music camp: Ultimate Artists. This year the masterclasses were held at the University of Westminster, where we also lived on campus. For someone coming from a tiny island, that is in itself an experience!


This post will be detailing the course and my views on the experience. If you're an aspiring artist especially, I suggest you read on. This course truly is about nourishing the artist not just in singing, songwriting and music production, but also even beyond that. It tackles the music industry and other issues relative to music artistry. Hats off to the wonderful organisers, and thank you.



Once upon a time a friend of mine suggested a brilliant vocal coach, Joshua Alamu aka Mad About The Voice. Together with Eva Brandt, Ali Tennant and a whole team of music fanatics, the Ultimate Artists music masterclasses was born. I was lucky enough to fly with a group of fellow Maltese, and on arrival we were met with a wave of nationalities. Another brilliant thing about this course is meeting people from all over the world and getting to work with them musically.

It was wonderful to sit at a table with a group of people who do not laugh at you when you admit your dreams out loud; on contrary, we were encouraged to share our goals and within a second it was clear how we all share this common denominator of making a living out of music.


Now with regards to the actual course starting with the vocals. We had 4 days of alternating lessons of voice, songwriting and music production. Joshua himself taught the vocal lessons, and we focused not only on technique but also on the theory aspect of it. We started out by listing what worries us in singing or performing, followed by a list of reasons why we love singing. It's important to always remember WHY we love to do something and not what worries us. We scattered the first list away and focused on the why. We also did some improvisations including singing out something that comes to mind. It was a marvelous experience as the mindset plays an important role in performing. Moreover, one to one sessions with the amazing Joanne Cresswell were provided so we could do some individual work.
Line Hilton who helped us with vocal and psychological issues ran the final vocal lesson. In short: the woman is god-sent.

Songwriting classes with Corey Ferrugia had us look at the said subject from a new dimension. The singer-songwriter broke down the tips and tools that go into writing a song. It's amazing how much goes on into making a good song: from concept to product. However, Corey laid it out clearly and simply and got us all inspired. We were assigned to get into small groups and co-write a song together to be performed during the showcase at the end if the weeklong course. It was intense yet great to write a song with people you have just met, and have it ready to be performed in front of an audience. Everyone did splendidly, however. We also had one to one songwriting sessions with the brilliant Ali Tennant, where we worked on our own material.

Music Technology with Eva Brandt proved most interesting to me. This class helped us through Logic and had us all working on our own projects. It didn't take us long to put on our headphones and get lost in producing our own beats and tracks. For me, I have confirmed what kind of music I would like to do. It was a fresh experience and one that has inspired me greatly.

Aside to all this we also had a workshops on Backing Vocals, Life Coaching, Making Music with iPad/Laptop and Art. We've had some great guests come entertain and inspire us such as Randolph Matthews, Johnny Lucas and more. A special "Rejig your gig class" was set up especially for us where a band came in and played different versions of a set list of songs we were given before the camp. We were then to perform on improvisation with the band. This was another brilliant experience, as was the open mic night.

The climax of the trip was the final showcase where we not only performed our freshly written original songs, but also another solo song. After a rollercoster ride of emotions, I am incredibly proud of what we have all achieved in just a week.

I went into camp expecting to learn more about singing, songwriting and music production and just being an artist. Turns out that I emerged and came back home a different person for the better. It truly has been more than music for me. I have newfound confidence and self-belief; two tools I lacked for the longest time. I feel like I have improved in those few short days, especially emotionally and psychologically. I now feel that the guard I have had up for and age restricting me from working towards my full potential, is finally falling down. Now I am ready to work hard towards achieving my dreams. 
This experience has been the perfect opportunity for me, as I have not only learnt and gained such tools, but also have found myself and I am looking at a clearer pathway.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each and every person who was involved in making this incredible experience possible, and to every fellow student. The support we gave each other throughout was just incredible. If you're an aspiring artist make sure to find Ultimate Artists on their  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and check their website for more information. Keep your eyes open for next year's dates. See you there!

Maria x



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