5 Minute Music Journalism


One of the biggest challenges when teaching journalism in workshop or taster sessions is that you’ve got get participants confident in their own writing very, very quickly. And though there’s nothing wrong with writing classes per se, I like my workshops to feel as little like an English lesson as possible. Over the last four years, I’ve refined how I teach music review writing, until I managed to come up with a workshop that would create finished reviews in a matter of minutes. I’ve taught this workshop to people between the ages of 14 and 35, and it doesn’t require any particular writing skills.

Rather than approaching review writing from a traditional point of view (which requires the students to have a lot of musical knowledge), I ask them to react to music quickly, and in the abstract. Pinning down metaphor in seconds with appealingly daft questions (‘What colour is this song?’, ‘If this track was a sweet, what would it be?’) leads students to descriptions that are entirely their own. I give them a framework review, with linking phrases in it – so once all the metaphors are slotted in, we end up with a classful of unique reviews that express each student’s opinion effectively – whether they loathe the track in question or not.