By Nickey Siegerman
KU is home to a class titled Lyric Writing, taught at only three schools in the United States, and it is the only public university to offer the course.
Professor Jeffrey Voccola teaches the class by intertwining his background as a musician and writer to provide insight into music writing.
“I played trumpet and piano as a kid, then took up guitar after high school. From the time I was 13 until my late 20s, I was always in a band, and almost immediately we began writing our own music,” said Voccola. “We played the bar scene for many years and recorded our music when we could.”
After talking with some people in his department and the music department, they came up with Lyric Writing. Available to both professional writing majors and music majors, this is currently a 300-level class but will become a 200-level next year. Voccola has been teaching this course for three weeks, and he’s ecstatic with his class.
“[It] has been great thus far. It’s clear that students in the class want to improve their writing skills,” Voccola added. “They’re eager to start expressing themselves through verse.”
So far, the class has covered metaphors, similes, haikus, poetry and the meaning in songs through the sound and through the lyrics. Voccola noted the study of verse is fascinating and beneficial to his class and all young writers.
“In addition to helping aspiring songwriters understand the craft of writing lyrics, it also sharpens reading, writing and analytical skills in general,” Voccola said. “I’m excited to see the poems, lyrics and songs students create as a result.”
Voccola is also excited to open the class up and expand the course. This is his first time teaching such a course, and he hopes to extend it beyond the roughly 10 kids in his class, spreading the word towards more prospective students who want to use music in some way or another in their lives.
While many of his students are music majors looking to become stronger songwriters, there are also writing majors who have a history, love and passion of music just as the music students do.
“I’d like to see more students throughout the university try their hand at the study of lyric writing, both musicians and students who simply love music. The study of verse strengthens writing and reading skills and is beneficial to all majors and minors, regardless of their field,” said Voccola. “In this digital era, effective written communication is essential to all professionals, but the class also affords students the opportunity to express themselves creatively through songwriting, which is extremely rewarding.”
Voccola is hopeful the class will continue to improve in the coming years.