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October 09, 2017

By Janet Hayward Burnham

I was studying the menu of interesting and instructive classes offered at "Into the Words", and noted Jon Gailmor's class: "Cranking Out a Hit Song". Now I have never composed a song, nor even thought I wanted to…but I was certainly curious. How was it possible, I asked myself, to take a bunch of mostly older adults and coax the words and music to a new song out of such a motley crew? Yes, we're all writers in some shape or form, and some may even be poets, but song writers? IN ONE HOUR? I had to see this magic show.

When we gathered for the class, there were about a dozen of us, all squeezed into the table space just off Jerry's kitchen. Jon was up on the raised platform called Hawthorne's Stage with an easel, large pad of paper and a marker. He asked what we wanted to write a song about. People threw out ideas…the most popular idea was something that had to do with summer memories. We began with: "Sunny day"…someone added "long country road." Jon wrote down those five words…a first line. Another addition: "Hand out the window"…then…"breeze in my hair." The ideas came from everyone. We all had summer memories of going to the ocean we wanted to share. By the time we were done, we had raced through an hour, and incredibly, we had written a song we called Salty Memories.

Jon had been slapping out the rhythm against his leg since we began…and now he had a neat little tune that seemed to fall right into place. We gathered close to Jon's recorder, and sang our hearts out on OUR SONG!

Later, Jon sent each of us, via email, the recording. Yep, we had made a bit of magic!

Janet Hayward Burnham lives in Bethel, Vermont. She is an 80 year old who has been married twice, has four kids, four stepsons, four grandchildren, seven step-grandchildren, and two step-great grandsons. She became serious about writing when she, her first husband, and four children moved to Vermont almost 50 years ago. Since then, she has published articles, photographs, books, and poetry.

Two of her poems for children were picked up and published on statewide tests from NY to Hawaii. She doesn't suppose any child every fell in love with a poem he or she read on a test, but it's certainly satisfying to have work go out across the land. And speaking of spreading the word, two of her sweet romance books were published in England and then prompted editions in Norway and Sweden, and finally the good old USA.