Dave Dobbyn's Songwriting Secrets

Dave Dobbyn's Songwriting Secrets

Jazz school students from CPIT had a masterclass with one of New Zealand’s best-loved musicians last week when singer-songwriter Dave Dobbyn called in to play a song or two with students and talk about songwriting.

Dave was in Christchurch for his concert with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO) on 1 September at CBS Canterbury Arena.

He has a long association with the Jazz School, having worked with tutors from the school on a variety of professional projects including collaborations with the CSO. Head of School Tom Rainey created the orchestral arrangements of Dave’s songs for the recent CSO concert and Jazz School graduate LA Mitchell sung at the concert as part of Dave’s regular touring band. “She taught us a lot about singing!” Dave said.

The first time he was invited to give a songwriting workshop at the Jazz School, Dave said he was very nervous, but if the nerves persisted this time it was not discernible from his modest and entertaining presentation. “You don’t realise how much you have to offer,” he said.

Second year Shannalee Etches and Jessie Walsh got to sing backing vocals with Dave on the day. “He made us feel really comfortable. He didn’t seem like a superstar at all,” Shannalee said.

“Once I was up there on stage with him I felt quite relaxed because he is such a genuinely nice guy,” Jessie added. Both students came away from their brush with fame inspired to write songs from the heart – an approach Dave said has worked for him. “He doesn’t move with trends, just with the next song,” Shannalee said. “I feel more confident with my music and my approach, to stick with what I’ve been doing.”