It is as challenging dreaming up new ideas for lyrics workshops as it is attending them, probably.
Each week I do a drop-in lyrics workshop and today we played that game- I think it's called Consequences- where you start off a story on a piece of paper, fold it over, write the last word of your sentence (a hanging word, a preposition like 'and' 'if' or but', or a verb like 'going', doing' or whatever), and pass it on to the next person, who then adds a sentence, and so on.
We started with a train journey: the person missed the train.
There were four stories circulating and there was something about the anonymity of the exercise that brought out surrealism (elephants) and poetry (a suitcase that had ideas in it). As we got down to the last bit, the bottom of the page, I asked everyone to finish it off with the train journey idea again.
Then we read out the stories, and then sang them off the page (rather shyly).
I love this hour. Academic jobs can become complex webs of administrative tasks and hectic, intense periods of creating lectures; then there is research, departmental meetings, and all that.
The lyrics workshop hour is small-scale. We sit round a table and talk and everything is unfinished, deliberately.
The bin fills up with discarded paper.
It is not about teaching and testing; it is about having ideas and then being able to let them go or keep them, whichever you want.
Once there were pieces of paper all over the floor with words written on them and we were choosing. I can't even remember what we were choosing, because it's a workshop, and even I don't have to remember what it was about.
Once, I asked them what animal they were. The guys were all lions, even though they came in one by one, and didn't hear what each other said they were.
The girl was a monkey; they each wrote lions and monkey stories in two minutes.
One week, only two students turned up and I sent them to Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood to get ideas, and they did.
It is a bit of breathing space for the brains, and everyone's brain needs that.