Sponsored by JazCraft


Now in southern California

Long Beach, CA

Songwriters wanting more information, may contact JazCraft via email.

  See Mlely In Brief below.

For more about  Mlely and the Pacific Songwriters ground-breaking Workshop at Kaimuki H. S. in Honolulu, see Susan Essoyen's featured article

and also see further below.

Mlely In Brief
 A Songwriters Workshop | Programs
Endorsements | Why A Songwriters Workshop
Kaimuki High School | Private Training | Contact

Leader & Moderator of
the Pacific Songwriters Workshops

In Brief
G. F. Mlely at work
G. F. Mlely is acclaimed worldwide for the originality of his work, both as performer and for his writing which has been produced and recorded by Freddy Hubbard, Phil Perry, John Tesh, The Cunninghams, the latter on a Grammy-Nominated album.  George Harrison produced “Gopinath,” which Mlely arranged, directed, and adapted from an east Indian chant. 

Songs by a workshop participant can range from works in progress to studio recorded final product.  Songs can be written to industry standard or developed in other directions.  Songs can be words - spoken or sung - looking for music or music looking for words. 

Mlely's projects have been to write book, lyrics, dialogue, and music to two 2-act musicals, "VENICE http://www.jazcraft.net/Venice.html and “LIFE DEATH & JAZZ http://www.jazcraft.net/LifeDeath&Jazz.html, the former having been given a reading by the Bookshop Theatre Ensemble, Cindy Jenkins (Dir/Dramaturg), and the latter a “cabareater” set mainly in Amsterdam, based on events of Mlely’s adventures (and misadventures).  An earlier musical, "AND ALL THAT JAZZ," ran 4 months in San Francisco.

13 from JazCraft's catalog of Mlely's original songs are now on a new CD, entitled “Compilation One,” avaiilable at CD Baby:  <http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/gfmlely2> , the first of two current albums of Mlely's songs scheduled for release.

 A Songwriters Workshop | Programs
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Kaimuki High School | Private Training | Contact 
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A Songwriters Workshop
by G. F. Mlely

A typical Pacific Songwriters Workshop can consist of a group of writers and aspiring writers assessing one another's songs, often in a group dynamic.  A song is not assessed merely on its marketability according to contemporary industry standards.  Of course, the commercial song industry is discussed, and matters gone into relevant to shaping a song into a commercial product, assessing a song for niche marketing, licensing, contests, as well as information exchanged about various channels in the commercial industry for submitting original material - shopping a song - the difficulties as well as dangers.

The song may be simple as a chant, complex as an operatic oratorio, or spoken-word to music - dramatic, comedic, romantic, acerbic, satiric, etc.  It can be poetic or jingle-istic, rhymed and unrhymed.  It can be written from the heart or merely to earn money.  Ideally, it can be both.

There is writing for the theater, for secular and church choirs and congregations, for audio and video and film tracks, for loved ones on occasions, for social gatherings, as well as writing to the latest pop industry standards.  The list is endless.  What one writes can be as varied as there are writers.

The language of a lyric, for instance, submitted to members of the workshop by a participant, is carefully considered in several aspects:

• its sense
• its compatibility within itself
• its freshness 
• if it needs to rhyme or not
• suitability of  metaphor, imagery, symbol 
• clarity of  thought 
• does it work as a lyric?
• can it work in other ways with music, such as spoken word?
• does it work with the music set to it?
• can it be sung?

In other words, a song is critiqued as to its own intention, regardless of any commercial potential.  The Pacific Songwriters Workshop does not stress any particular style of music or language.  Rather, it treats a song - either words or music or both - according to what it is trying to be.


Having addressed the process for words, now a few words about music.  I always encourage the composer of music to listen to all kinds of music, some that he or she might not necessarily even want, or think, to hear.  I warn the musician against musical tunnel vision - to mix a metaphor.  Listen to everything - classical, jazz, world, (pop, if a classical musician), etc.  Go where you're not naturally disposed, for the education and/or experience of it. 

Study music, become fluent in harmony.  Try using a variety of different chord sequences to one's own melodies.  Get used to hearing what might sound odd or even disquieting upon initial hearing, certain dissonances - especially those that have some history in depth to them.  Try writing melodies based on different kinds of chord sequences.  Try setting different sequences to the same melody.  Try using different voicings to chords.

The control that the commercial song industry has over the airwaves and channels constitutes a cultural totalitarianism, that has resulted in a deadening of this faculty and facility for harmony among a multitude of musicians.  It's a downward cultural spiral that can be overwhelming to aspiring musicians. 

If the aspiring musician as composer is drawn only towards writing the sound-alikes of whatever happens to be the popular song-flavor of the moment, their disappointment will not be long in coming.  The developing composer needs to know that whatever it is they are hearing over the popular channels for music, it has already been in the making for months if not years.  There's already a warehouse of sound-alike material stored away as potential follow-up to the possible success of whatever song might be achieving its momentary fame.

The audio and visual projections coming at you via the media are at the end of a long line from where the music was made.  Try being different, try getting at the beginning of that line - but by way of study, not just by way of idiosyncrasy.

A song is shaping word(s) and music together into a mutually complimentary form.  In some instances, if a good lyric is not matched by equally good music, or vice versa, the writer or writers will be encouraged to reset the lyric to different music, or vice versa.  This is often one of the most difficult things for songwriters to do.  A lyric can become married to a melody and chord changes that do not work well together.  And changing the mismatch can be very difficult if not painful.

Writers in the workshop often return with improvements to a lyric and/or music because of suggestions offered by the other members.  In most instances, the writer or writers will usually be grateful for the feedback that caused it, and the group equally pleased to have been part of the effect.

Most participants in a workshop tend to be primarily lyricists.  Because songwriting is also, if not always, a collaborative process, workshops also afford opportunity for writers to meet others for collaboration. 

How well one writes depends on two elements - art and craft.  Art, which requires talent, cannot be taught.  Only craft can be taught, the purpose for which the workshop exists.  

As occurs in workshops, many matters are addressed, too many to go into here.  But, in past workshops, for instance, such topics touched upon included philosophy, history, culture, tradition, creation - the very stuff of creation itself being composed of sound - and how we are all unavoidably affected by it.  There also has been a lot of laughter.

A workshop treats only the initial writing of original material, not to its next steps - arrangement and performance.  The song is the thing, not its development and performance.

Not everyone who aspires to be a songwriter is as willing to put the work into crafting a song as some.  But those that do, make a workshop worth the effort of putting one together.  

Mlely In Brief
 A Songwriters Workshop | Programs
Endorsements | Why A Songwriters Workshop
Kaimuki High School | Private Training | Contact 
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The Pacific Songwriters Workshop Programs
with G. F. Mlely

  • Level I Beginner to Early Intermediate
  • Level II Later-Intermediate to Advanced

  • Level I • 1-2 Hours
    (depending on number of participants)
    Beginner to Early Intermediate

    Eligibility Requirements

    Members of this workshop will be in the process of writing or attempting to write either poem, lyric, and/or melody.  A poem or lyric (whether completed or not) must be presented on paper (with enough copies for each member).  A  melody may be written in manuscript form and/or performed, but must be presented on CD or tape. 

    Wordsmiths in this group will discuss the difference between a poem and a lyric.  They will also be shown examples of various song forms - popular, traditional, jazz, show, etc.- as the occasion demands, in order to broaden each member's understanding of the process of setting music to words (or words to music), either sung or spoken.  Also see A Songwriters Workshop above. 

    Level II • 1-2 Hours
    (depending on number of participants)
    Later-Intermediate to Advanced

    Eligibility Requirements 

    Members of this workshop will each be able to write either a completed lyric and/or a melody (with or without chords).  A lyric must be presented on paper (with enough copies for each member); a melody may be written in manuscript form and/or performed, but must be presented on CD or tape. 

    A workshop mixing both Levels I and II might also take place if either falls short of optimum signups. 

    Mlely In Brief
    A Songwriters Workshop | Programs
    Endorsements | Why A Songwriters Workshop
    Kaimuki High School | Private Training | Contact
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    Crossroads Choir in Concert

    Crossroads Choir and Featured Artists in a Live Fund-Raising Concert Performance of G. F. Mlely's Works in Honolulu Hawaii

    Hear mp3 tracks

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    "I didn't really know what to expect when I first joined the workshop.  I found a welcoming yet demanding atmosphere provided by the leader.  Francis set the tone by finding a balance between making the participants comfortable while encouraging them to hold high standards for their work.  There were no judgements made about genres.  The genre didn't matter, just the strength of the song.  I like that. I hope to participate again in the future."  JIM SMART (jismart@aol.com)
    "The workshop provides an excellent forum for interacting with others who are serious about the art and craft of songwriting.  The structure and atmosphere of the workshop is relaxed and easy, which facilitates the sharing of new material for critique and analysis by other members of the group.  We learn about songwriting by interacting with the songs and each other as the focus shifts as needed from lyrics to melody, to recording technique, to pop culture, to planetary physics.  At the end of each session I feel like a better songwriter.  That kind of feeling often translates into better songs."  GORDON OKIMOTO (gokimoto@hammish.thermotrex.com)
    I wasn't particularly interested in attending a song writer's workshop but a friend convinced me to try the first one.  I'm glad he did.  I was surprised at the things I didn't have a clear understanding about.  At each meeting these things were reinforced and new things learned.  The group quickly bonded and I looked forward to everyone's feedback at each new meeting.  In the end I came away with a much firmer grasp of what I needed to look at in my songs and how to make them better, much better!  DAVID BELLINO (dbmet@lava.net)
    The workshop gave me confidence in my own songwriting and helped me to understand what more I needed to learn.  The critiquing was always supportive, never negative.  In fact, one of my songs from the workshop won the $1000. First Place prize in a song contest.  The workshop was a good time.  JASON GOORMAN (wooten1234@aol.com)
    This workshop has been a very helpful sounding board for my own songs and a tool for reshaping many of them.  That we may see ourselves as other's see us, is a true blessing.  Now I can really see my songs through other's eyes.  I feel very hopeful as an aspiring songwriter.  ROD LEWIS

    Mlely In Brief
    A Songwriters Workshop | Programs
    Endorsements | Why A Songwriters Workshop
    Kaimuki High School | Private Training | Contact
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    Why A Songwriters Workshop Is Needed
    In the Secondary Schools
    by G. F. Mlely

    An Irish politician once said, in words to the effect, that to control a nation's music is to control a nation.  Robert D. Kaplan, in his article,  "The Coming Anarchy," published by Atlanta Monthly (February 1994), wrote 

      "America operates in a culture in which the international media and entertainment industry has more influence than the national political class."

    Perhaps the greatest influence that matters to our young, by way of song, is that which they get from the commercial music industry.  We currently have a mercantile culture that divides its generations by way of music.  Children, being naturally rebellious, but also at the onset of puberty inclined towards idiosyncratic music and poetic language, no longer sing the same songs as their parents.  And the music industry is quick to exploit that.  Speak of the Pied Piper! 

    And for those wanting to create song, there are few, if any, rewards in place for their efforts within the community.  In real terms, if they want to succeed in that craft they have little choice but to join the music industry and its market trends. 

    There needs to be a process within our educational institutions where students can get information on and training in songwriting that exists outside the totalitarianism of the music industry - a way that children can grow into their own thing but from within the construct of the community.  Writing is a lone process, and the writer - or aspiring writer - needs feedback, especially from other and more experienced writers. 

    The Pacific Songwriters Workshop, by the way, treats only the initial writing of original material, not to its next steps - arrangement and performance.  The song is the thing. 

    Mlely In Brief 
    A Songwriters Workshop | Programs
    Endorsements | Why A Songwriters Workshop
      Kaimuki High School | Private Training | Contact
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    Kaimuki High School Songwriting Workshop
    Kaimuki Songwriting Workshop

    Kaimuki High School's songwriting workshop participants with G. F. Mlely (with lei) and Darryl Loo, Music Director (left, first row standing), a national first with songwriting as an accredited subject in a secondary school
    Susan Essoyan's
    Star-Bulletin article

    See also participant comments

    Practicing Their New Song
    Singing Their Own Song

    New Song Ensemble
    New Song Ensemble

    Kaimuki HS Student Participant Comments quoted in the article.
    "We're pretty excited because we've never done this before," said J.P. Soon, a junior who plays ukulele and guitar.  You can tell Mr. Mlely knows what he's doing." 

    Senior William Harris said, "Mr. Mlely has helped me with my song writing because he helps me with constructive criticism.  He taught me to expand my vocabulary so the rhyme schemes are easier to come up with." 

    "He's simply wise and knows a lot about the music industry," said Senior Claudia Amaya. 

    "Without his help, we would be kind of lost," said Ken Tatafu, a junior.  "With his help, it's a lot easier than I thought it would be." 

    It kind of changes your perspective," said 18-year-old Amaya, an earnest look in her eyes.  "You learn to appreciate the hard work that goes into writing a song. And how much artists take their work to heart." 

    "Mlely's music stands alone.  Simply amazing!" said Senior Andy Pang.  

    "This has been a great experience.  It's a rare opportunity to have these kinds of workshops," said Junior Ken Tatafu. 

    Mlely In Brief
    A Songwriters Workshop | Programs
    Endorsements | Why A Songwriters Workshop
    Kaimuki High School | Private Training | Contact
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    Business Location and Mailing Address

    3333 Pacific Place, #309
    Long Beach, CA 90806

    No drop-ins
    email for phone number for appointment.

    Private Rate

    * $45 per weekly 45-minute session, 4 weeks minimum  payable in advance.  $5 from each lesson is deducted when 8 lessons are paid in advance. 
    * One-time only session is $85. 
    * Lower rates are possible in certain low-income cases.
    * Payment by first-time student is to be in cash, and is non-refundable, subject to the note below. 
    * Session times can be adjusted to a student's work schedule. 

    NOTE: If sometime into the first session a prospective student is not satisfied, the student will not be obligated to pay. 

    A Songwriters Workshop | Programs
    Endorsements | Why A Songwriters Workshop
    Kaimuki High School | Private Training | Contact

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