BACK TO THE BEGINNING and yet it’s the END:(

Hello Everyone,

This week’s challenge was to find two unfinished songs and merge to create one.  I found the melody and lyrics of verses and pre chorus from a song I started on guitar which I was going to title “FLY AWAY” and then found a chorus melody and idea from a voice recording I had from way back when.  The bridge was originally a pre-chorus idea for “FLY AWAY”.  It was pretty interesting how the pieces fit together.

This challenge gave me a different perspective on songwriting.  I don’t believe I’ve actually tried this merging of songs before.  At least, not the merging of two songs written during very different times of my life. By doing so, I was able to realize that I do enjoy writing songs that are uplifting & inspiring for myself.  I hardly take the victim stance or complaint much in a song. Lol  Thank goodness.  Not that I never do, but at least I know that when I write songs for me, they are basically stories of progress or positivity.

During this week, I could not help but feel extremely grateful, passionate, and happy about investing in this month and this craft. And now that it’s coming to a close, a part of me will miss the push of the challenges.   I’ll be needing to figure out how to continue this push and grind within myself on the regular after today.  As a start, the most important lesson from this week would definitely be to be sure to complete every song I start.  And should I feel stuck, I have now realized how many more options I have to finish from old journals, voice recordings and loose leaf scribbles.  The options could be endless should I utilize this more for sure!

I simply want to thank SAC for putting this Challenge on, the help of the mentors, the support of the songwriting community and peers in this group, the professionals who took their time out to give us challenges, co-writers and most importantly, the other participants who willingly and most vulnerably shared their art within this platform.

Forever grateful and look forward to staying in touch with all of you.  I also look forward to hearing everyone’s work out in the world!

Much Love,



S.A.C. Songwriting Challenge #3: Relationship building in songwriting
By: Michael Perlmutter

“Each individual participant must partner up with another of this year’s Challenge participants to collaborate for this song to be accepted. The theme of the song is all about relationships whether that is fresh starts, friendships, love, longing or heartbreak – you and your songwriting partner decide. Collaborate on a themed song about relationships.

Why is this challenge important to the craft of songwriting?

Songwriting is at its best when emotions and/or stories are told that people connect to. Each songwriter has their own story or experience and being able to share that with a co-writer may help to craft the story and share the feeling in a more profound way – objectivity is very helpful in conveying a story. In addition, working with someone who has a unique ability different from yours in the songwriting craft will play a huge role in the shaping of the song and its tone.”


Hello again everyone,

This week’s songwriting challenge was filled with many moments of learning. The challenge consisted of each songwriter having to find a co-writer within the group and creating a song about relationships.  I found a wonderful and most talented writer, Heather Meori.  As an added bonus, she also lived locally in Vancouver.

Co-writing songs to me is about, but not limited to, finding inspiration, dynamics and connection, contribution of ideas, working towards a common goal, resulting in a final product built from the coming together of passion and creativity.  As much as all these aspects and more occurred this week, my biggest lessons were learned from getting to meet and know Heather Meori.  In other words, connecting and knowing this person outside of the writing itself helped make me want to be a better writer.

In a matter of a week, I learned so much from this woman.  Time flew by so fast that I have not even been able to express myself to her personally yet.  This blog will have to do.  The following are some of the important factors I took away from our session:


As a mother to a 7-year-old girl, sometimes I feel like I spread myself too thin sometimes and don’t have enough time to fit in everything into one day.  Well…my perspective changed when Heather and I agreed to be partners.  It was later in the evening when I received my first message from her letting me know that she would be sending some ideas over.  She also expressed that this would be occur as soon as her adorable children were fast asleep.  Before long, she had a recording sent to me of a melody line, idea, and a baseline to boot.  I was quite impressed.  I definitely enjoy working with people who have that kind of drive.  Wow!

Our schedules were pretty busy and clashed for time to work together, but with great reason.  Not only was Heather caring for her lovely family and two children she was also getting up in the morning to get to a full day of work.  I did the calculations.  This allowed her to play and do what she is most passionate and talented at in the wee hours of the night into the morning…and then the cycle continued.  At times, I get caught up with unexpected life events, the business of everyday necessities, motherhood and then feel frustration or upset that I wish I had more time. I was reminded that I DO HAVE TIME.  I simply forgot how to cherish and treat any free time as precious.  Watching Heather do her thing and still pump out songs was an eye opener for me to keep up with being grateful.


Meeting someone for the first time may sometimes be scary.  Heather was so awesome to work with in person.  A glass of wine, pad, pens and we were well on our way to figuring things out.  To have such a lovely personality around makes the whole difference of whether creative juices flow nicely or not for me.  Having Heather as a partner allowed for the space to be creative, yet she was also no pushover.  She knows her stuff, brings stellar ideas to the table and has a way of articulating her points with always holding integrity in the relationship.  All egos were left at the door.

I am also aware that I am not theoretically inclined when it comes to music.  And to have Heather share so much of her ideas, bass playing, chords, etc. definitely helped get us started and kept the core of the process in check.  When the times restraints tightened, I was then able to put in my strengths and modify, add, write-re-write, find anything we could possibly touch up.   The whole time we worked through things, whether she was driving, I was sending out confusing messages, or coming to an agreement about things, she always held a positive attitude and kept things fun.  Even when we met to write in person, she was able to hold a fun relationship with my daughter too.  One thing I learned and had confirmed is that I write best with this type of writer.  And I would choose this any day as opposed to someone extremely genius who wasn’t very personable or delivered negative vibes.  The way Heather worked made our working environment and process feel safe.  And with feeling safe, came the freedom to play to being productive.


I found with our differing schedules, including the Producer’s, we could have easily found the challenge too much to handle trying to meet up.  The beauty of how things worked for the both of us, was that some of the areas of creating songs one person was not the best at,  the other naturally filled.  As mentioned above, I am not the most theoretically inclined and so having Heather share her abilities of finding some chords, etc, was a gift!  I also am somewhat useless trying to figure out harmonies.  Again, she was able to pull this off and send to me in between moments of her busy life.

On my end of things, I spent my time recording the vocals, writing lyrics and figuring out how to sing our ideas out appropriately. When she was at work, I tried my best to fill in any gaps we may have still had.  The Producer did the same.  The greatest part of all was Heather was extremely dedicated and would continue to push ideas and demonstrate what she was capable of.  When egos are at the door, and skills are combined, this is where I feel the magic is made.  And again, where I was finding an issue challenging to manage, Heather was able to pull through with a solution and vice versa.


The best learning I did this past week was the day Heather came over.  I poured us some wine and we chit chatted a bit to get to know one another.  She talked about her children.  I did the same regarding my daughter.  We spoked about time management, work, betimes, studio times, creativity, etc.  And I just remember us stopping for a moment and both of us mentioning ” WHY DO WE DO THIS?”.  Haha.  With families to care for, employment, appointments, sleep, etc.  Why would use the very little time we have left to be part of a songwriting challenge?  It was also in this moment that I realized that we created music because we were passionate.  We create music to emote and at times use it as therapy. She showed me the extent of her passion which made me want to do and be more.  In the matter of a moment, I was reminded of why we did what we did.  We wrote songs and did it because we love it.  And from this passion and love for the craft, we attain the fuel to continue working and moving along.

Of course this whole week was to learn about songwriting and how it’s done technically, collaboratively, sharing of dynamics, and process, etc.  All this was implemented, and occurred, but I really wanted to stress on the relationship itself that was built in my songwriting process.

BIGGEST LESSON OF ALL: As a songwriter in need of creating…writing a lot definitely exercises the brain to work efficiently. Reading a lot definitely fills the brain of ideas and vocabulary. Listening to other music develops more understanding, but it’s the LIVING of life and connecting through the ways others LIVE life that is the “fuel” that fills the machine to drive.

Thank you Heather Meori for the experience and reminder of the beautiful things life holds whether it be children, family, balance, passion, dedication, etc.  You were my fuel this week.

IMG_1822Heather Meori 2015


Hello Everyone,

Another week down with the songwriting challenges.  This week, challenging was definitely something I faced with both the writing and and unexpected events of life.  The challenge this week consisted of the following:

Challenge #2: Lyrics and Storytelling
By: Bryan Potvin

1. Write a song that tells a story

It can be in any genre. This is a very lyrically driven song that heavily relies on a story arc and timeline with characters, conflict and resolution.

This challenge is aimed at writing a great ’story song’. The music should not be a simple accompaniment to the story, like background music. It should be a song with memorable melody, chord structure and rhythm that speaks to the ideas within the story. This is a story driven tune so sitting down and writing lyrics first might not be a bad idea. Or at least get a concept or outline down lyrically, perhaps a chorus or lyric refrain, something which will hopefully give you clues to finding the feel for the rest of the song. A good story arc has characters we care about, conflict and resolution. And you’ve usually got somewhere between two and a half to four minutes to do it in. 

Hopefully your story drives your song, not only lyrically but musically as well!

This week was definitely a challenge for me, but from this there were great lessons learned.  And although the frustrations were great, with obstacles come great lessons, and with lessons is growth.  The following were a few of the major lessons learned:



This week was especially busy.  I found it exceptionally challenging attempting to balance home life, motherhood, appointments, auditions, wellbeing, etc., and then the unexpected  “THE X-FACTOR” aka “spontaneous obstacles”.  I had a taste of the dedication needed for this challenge from last week, so I was sure that I was ready.  The X-FACTOR definitely proved me wrong. I ended up having technical difficulties with my recording gear and exporting my files, I ended up having 4 acting auditions during the week to prep for, and reunion with a friend I’ve known since elementary who came to visit from the Northwest Territories.  All of these I wanted to ditch out on, but none giving me an option. By the end of the week, I felt extremely worn out.  I realized that for next week, I have to try a better method of opening time to get productive writing in, and leave extra space for events such as this.


I started this week’s challenge writing about a fictional character named “Jack”.  I was basically done with his story when I simply wasn’t feeling the song anymore.  A part of me wanted to just get it done to save me time, but my gut told me otherwise.  I followed this and started from scratch and decided to write about a Mother & Daugher concept.  Thank goodness I did because in the end, I felt the song held more emotion and content.  As for the Jack idea.  It can be used at another time.  I suppose this is the beauty of being a writer.  No thought or piece of work is necessarily a waste.


This challenge is not only challenging in that we must create a song from scratch in such a short amount of time, but that it is also very scary.  Songwriting, at least to me, is very vulnerable and allows for a platform of opinions and criticisms to be formed.  It comes with the territory of putting music out, but just because one participates in creating music, doesn’t necessarily mean one has to get used to feeling less vulnerable.  This is something I have been working on.  Platforms such as this Challenge are extremely helpful and supportive of overcoming my anxieties around sharing my creations.

I was in the middle of rewriting this week’s song when I received feedback from one of the Mentors regarding last wee’s song.  She suggested I try to reread all my lines to have them more in a “real speak” tone.  I started out as a poet so a lot of my thinking can be analytical and metaphorical.  Picking and choosing the time to hear another person’s opinion is important.  There is a fine balance between taking on too much of what another person thinks, and not accepting enough for personal growth.  For this particular suggestion, I accepted it and also applied it completely to this week’s song.  As part of a challenge to myself, I wrote the song in a very conversational tone this time.

There was so much more to this week I have learned from, and so much more I look forward to learning.  For now…back to the drawing board for WEEK #3.



BEAUTIFUL GIRL OF MINE (c)2016 Bernadette Saquibal


Raindrops poured that early morn.
The doctors let me get some rest. My baby was born.
Her head on my chest like silk against my skin.
Her tenderness numbed the pain my body was still in.

Her eyes wide looked up at mine.
Its then that I realized the blessings in my life.
And even for second I shall never forget
I held my daughter’s heart. I planned to protect it.

I’m not perfect. I promise to try…and let her

Rise high
Higher than I have
To soar beyond horizons
Find her heart’s desire
Rise high
Much higher than I’ve been
Free to fly to find out who she is
The most beautiful girl.
The most beautiful girl of mine.

Times changed when she turned nineteen.
A boy in town had dragged her down and stole her self esteem.
She shunned me out like a cold winter’s wind.
I knew her heart needed me. I fought to let me in.

We spent time together doing what she loved
Piecing back memories of who she really was.

She’s not perfect. She promised to try…to rise…

Rise high
Higher than I have
To soar beyond horizons
Find her heart’s desire
Rise high
Much higher than I’ve been
Free to fly to find out who she is
The most beautiful girl
The most beautiful girl
The most beautiful girl
Of Mine, of mine, of mine.

Times passed and her soul had grown strong.
She met a man she wed and had kids of her own.
Her love I’m gonna miss.
It’s alright ‘cuz she’s done right with our promises…to…

Rise high
Higher than I have
To soar beyond horizons
Find her heart’s desire
Rise high
Much higher than I’ve been
Free to fly to find out who she is.
The most beautiful girl.
The most beautiful girl.
The most beautiful girl of mine.

Melody, Lyrics, Vocals – Bernadette Saquibal
Music Composition & Production – Daniel “VAGO” Orellana

Challenged and Charging Through It

Hello everyone,

Last Saturday was the start of the Songwriter’s Association of Canada (S.A.C.) Songwriting & Blogging Challenge. The rules from the first Industry Professional were as follows:

Challenge #1: The Mechanics of Songwriting
By: Murray Daigle 

1. Write a song using no more than 2 chords
2. Write a song that has a single repeating riff (1-bar in length)

“This challenge is designed to make writers focus on fundamental “hooks” to create a great song. Also to underline The “catchiness” of the melody, vocal rhythm and lyric will be very important. This limitation takes away the writer’s ability to simply use a chord pattern change and define the musical space. You will actually have to write verses, choruses and bridges that define themselves and “speak” as they should in the context of the song. There is a list of huge hit songs below that cross genres and eras that meet this criteria… so it can be done!”


The challenges aside from the fact that my 7 year old daughter was released from school for summer break, we had to move back into our old home after flood renovations, and scrambling around finding every piece of gear from random packed boxes, was getting myself to get back to being simple.  “SIMPLICITY IS THE ULTIMATE SOPHISTICATION” Leonardo da Vinci.

Ironically, as much as this assignment was a challenge, it was also a great reminder of the kind of songwriter I started out as.  The kind of songwriter I enjoyed being and took pride in being able to express myself.  Back in high school, I could not play an instrument, but enjoyed lyricism and poetry.  I was ecstatic the moment I could strum a guitar and put together two chords!  I was pretty obsessed with writing songs and seeing how many I could make up with what I could play on the strings.  Due to my inability to play any instrument proficiently, I compensated by melody making and changing the dynamics of how I played the guitar to build songs.  Over time, this resulted in me being able to dance around chords and gain strength in picking out melody lines, counter melodies and catchy rhythms from simplicity.

Somewhere though along the journey of my songwriting, I grew bored with hearing the same guitar strum pattern, same chords, same structures, same instrument.  I started to leave my guitar behind and grew an interest rather in producers who created music compositions.  I felt a new wave of expression where I had the opportunity to do what I felt I did best…write melodies.  And to chords structure which exceeded my own personal capabilities of playing or knowledge of.  I enjoyed this so much I gave up on growing in my own musical development when it came to instrumentation.

As much as I picked up the guitar again  and bought new software for recording, etc, this challenge is what really pushed me to get better and grow.  This challenge really pushed me to start from scratch as I always use to with my songwriting.  Not only this, I did not revert to the guitar this time.  I pushed myself to sit at a piano and write a song from an unknown instrument.  (Google was one of my best friends during this process. Haha.)  I was also pushed to connect all my recording gear again, relearn the basics, and properly track myself again as well.  No leaning on anyone else until it came to final engineering and production.  (Frustration happened to also be one of my best friends during this past week. haha).

So, as a result of this week’s challenge, I was not only pushed to become better at the craft, but to also appreciate and respect every facet of my songwriting process.  This assignment allowed me to face the younger songwriter version in me, give her a big hug and let her know that simplicity is just as important as complex.  Ironically, when working with the Producer, he took the original chords I wrote my song to which was as follows: G & F and played with them and danced around these in his own way.  He backed my vocals with music in Eb & G.  Simple yet also effective.  We all dabble in the same ideas of SIMPLICITY being a form of SOPHISTICATION.

This challenge gave me a sense of permission to not be so great an instrument, quiet the negative talk that creeps up on me sometimes, and really appreciate that songs are not necessarily about complexity, but going back to the basics.  Rhythm. Melody. Lyrics. Something that evokes emotion, memorable and tells a story.  Even if it just…2 chords.

With much love and excitement for the next Challenge…Bernadette




ROUND n ROUND (c)2016 Bernadette Saquibal

Through the veil of the darkest nights
I can feel the heat of your love
Even though we just had a fight
Your kiss is all my lips are thinking of
And I know that our hearts are hurting
But healing only happens with timing

Oh we love how we love
And though times might be tough
Hang on and know that it’s worth it

Round and a round and around we keep spinning
Tossing up the thoughts in our heads
And we go round and around
We’ll figure it out
Baby we ain’t over yet
Oh oh oh oh oh…not yet.

Amongst our pictures and memories
Hold onto the story of living
Erase the chapters of emptiness
Where love has a chance to be had
And I know that our hearts are hurting
But healing only happens with timing

Oh we love how we love
And if this ain’t enough
Hang on I know that its worth it

Round and a round and around we keep spinning
Hanging to our love by the thread
And we go round and a round
We’ll break it all down
Baby so much more for us to give
Round and a round and around we keep spinning
Tossing up the thoughts in our heads
And we go round and around
We’ll figure it out
Baby we ain’t over yet
Oh oh oh oh oh…not yet.

Love how we love
But there’s giving up….ON US

Round and a round and around we keep spinning
Hanging to our love by the thread
And we go round and a round
We’ll break it all down
Baby so much more for us to give
Round and a round and around we keep spinning
Tossing up the thoughts in our heads
And we go round and around
We’ll figure it out
Baby we ain’t over yet
Oh oh oh oh oh…not yet.

Oh oh oh oh oh…not yet.

Song written & performed by Bernadette Saquibal

Produced by Daniel “VAGO” Orellana




PLAYTIME 101 – The best education ever!


Wow! I had the most amazing day today! I volunteer my time in my daughter’s class throughout the week. Children are amazing beings and as much as I love to assist in their learning, today was one of those days where I learned more.The school participated in a PLAY DAY which consisted of exactly this. 100% PLAY. The morning began with the usual moment of mediation for ‘mindfulness’ and then followed by the principal’s voice over the intercom. She expressed how the gym, library, and all classrooms were not effectively open for full play. And when recess rolled around, the children were then allowed to continue playing outside until lunchtime was over. And when lunchtime ended, play would proceed indoors until it was time to go home.  A full day of lock down PLAY PLAYTIME!
Lessons of the Day:
1. MOTIVATION & ATTRACTION : With the freedom
10672251_10152480896498860_5187178663614965250_n to do as they pleased, surprisingly the children were extremely orderly and naturally found what interested them most. They were more in order than a regular day of instruction. Haha. Each of their energy levels were at a high, curiosity levels heightened and confidence blossomed because they could do whatever they decided to do of their own choosing.
  • Good instincts usually tell you what to do before your head figures it out. – Micheal Burke
  • Doing what you like is freedom.  Liking what you do is happiness. – Anonymous
2. SIMPLICITY & COMPASSION: There were no judgements amongst the students and the collaboration and acceptance of anyone in a group was amazing!  The very same kids I have witnessed not get along during class work time, seemed to be having a blast playing with the same items. If anyone felt like playing with someone else or a group, they were immediately part of the game. If they were not interested or changed their mind, they were easily free to leave and find something else.  It was this simple and participants shared a common respect for every other participant.  During times of play, the enjoyment and fun factor overrode any possible negativity.
  • Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication – Leonardo Da Vinci
  • If you want others to be happy. Practice compassion.  If you want to be happy. Practice compassion. – Dalai Lama
3. SHARING & TEAMWORK: During regular class times, there have been activities where groups are needed to created by a teacher. In doing this, sometimes the children would fight for positions or a space to be seen or heard.  Sometimes competition would arise when there seemed to be a necessary goal to achieve. Today, seamlessly, everyone was neutral. If a game was created, all participants magically knew they were involved and seemed to enjoy whatever they ended up doing. When board games were pulled out, each player assembled and disassembled the games like they had done it a million times.  Each participant taking care of one part of the job, and effortlessly accomplishing things.  All the kids were collaborating and offering their willingness to help without being instructed to nor how.  Even when there weren’t enough pieces, blocks, equipment to go around, somehow they all had seemed equally intrigued and interested in the activity.  Either a group would watch one person demonstrate a task, all participants took turns, or children would help encourage each other with ideas while working on a project together.
  • The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team. – Phil Jackson
  • No one can whistle a symphony.  It takes a whole orchestra to play it. -H.E. Luccock
4. COMMUNICATION & EXPRESSION: There are a few students that have learning disabilities in the class. They seem to struggle during regular class hours with learning disabilities, communication, attention, etc. During today’s activities, you would not have been able to pick them out. In a setting of play, every student had the freedom to communicate as they found most comfortable, and all dialogue seemed to be executed and received easily. In class, my own daughter can hardly be heard.  She refuses to speak up or share her ideas a lot.   She can also become unmotivated easily.  Yet, when she gets to play or if I change any given situation, chore or task to a playful one, her personality really shines.  Haha. The usually distracted children in class also ended up being some of the most focused on what they were engulfed in.  Those that were usually asked to keep quiet during times of study flourished with being loud over the bustle.  Their freedom to move ironically resulted in stillness.  The ones that could not read or write well, built or drew such beautiful and intricate creations.  Reading or following instructions was no longer a requirement to allowing them to express their thoughts.  Today was about allowing their thoughts to come to life. Originality burst and splattered everywhere.
  • Success in any endeavour depends on the degree to which it is an expression of your true self. – Ralph Marston
  • If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint. – Edward Hopper
5. IMAGINATION & CURIOSITY: Probably the best part for me about today day, was the endless amounts of creativity and imagination being shared. Blocks turned into cars, bridges, furniture. Lego turned into fortresses and ships. Paper and stencils turned into beautiful designs. The once 4 walls of a classroom turned into Forever-Ever Land! It amazed me how the children were allowed to bring any toy of their choice from home, but instead many found extreme joy in simply rolling dice, walking around or moving chess pieces to a game they did not understand yet.
  • The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. – Albert Einstein
  • I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them. – Pablo Picasso
6. DECISION MAKING & PROBLEM SOLVING: The children were free to make up their own minds today. Along with this freedom was the need to also solve problems as they arose. As an example, some kids ran for the gym.  They couldn’t wait!  It wasn’t long before they returned to the classroom. When asked why, they expressed to me that there were too many big kids present and did not want to get injured, so they were going to find something else they liked. All day the children were free to decide what was best for themselves and in doing so, the best came out of them. To be honest, there weren’t any problems today to fix in my opinion. These kids just knew what to do and executed in its simplest form, which in the end was the most powerful.
  • Our children need to be taught HOW to think, and not WHAT to think. – Anonymous
  • It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings. – Ann Landers
Just another day in class ended up being a blessing in disguise.  What an amazing adventure.  I did not stay for the rest of the day, and still left filled to brim with important reminders of living life.  I refuse to allow my soul to become old, and it’s a wonderful treat to know that great attempts in protecting our very core as a human race exists.  I don’t mean to ramble on about all this, but I simply could not help but do so.  The most sophisticated lessons of life took place in it’s simplest form today and it was all about HAVING FUN!  Imagine that!
No phones were present, no TV’s, no gadgets, nobody telling anyone how they needed to be.  There was no judgement, comparing, negativity in the play space. Each child was free to be themselves and the energy was so much to take! Half the class was battling a cold as well, but when it was play time, I personally haven’t seen them happier, healthier, upbeat. No negative talk seemed to exist, comparisons, stress, insecurities, doubt, etc.  Like today for a school full of kids was about living in the moment and enjoying anything and everything they were engaging in.
I could go on forever about the many other things that went on and what could be learned, but this is the beauty of it all.  The answers to many questions to stresses we have in life are right under our nose.  In conclusion…as stated, EVERYTHING WE NEED TO KNOW WE MOST LIKELY ALREADY LEARNED IN GRADE SCHOOL.  So, turn inward, give your 5 or 7 year old self a visit and get to know them again. Be reminded of what made that child smile, laugh, dance, what they loved to create, made their heart melt.  Most importantly, take the time in the present time to remember to PLAY PLAY and PLAY.
In connection with my 5 year old self today,
On a  closing note…
Here’s a dedicated to the kid in all of us:CARDBOARD SAILBOAT (c) 2015 Bernadette Saquibal

Bernadette Saquibal – S.A.C. Challenge #3: CLARITY, COMMUNICATION, COLLABORATION

COMMUNICATION One main aspect of songwriting that has changed is my ability to have the courage to communicate my ideas to other musicians, producers, co-witers.  I was always afraid to voice my opinion in the past about what thoughts and feelings I had about a certain song or idea.  I have not been musically trained professionally.  I do not know anything other than extremely basic theory.  I do not play an instrument well, but I can play rhythm.  I am visceral when it comes to songs rather than technical, and although I do not necessarily know the true genre breakdowns, I have the ability to build structure, melody and write lyrics.  Knowing my weakness and strengths with writing and embracing it all was the only time I was able to begin effectively communicating. I was able to find the resources that fit what I needed for my style and capabilities as an artist.  In saying this, I reached out to my friend who specializes in Hip-Hop and R&B production to help me gain a vibe for this challenge.  It is a great feeling when two people come together and work on a piece that is within neither of our comfort zones.  Watching each other push and grow, build, learn and create is amazing!  You could imagine how much communication would be needed in order for two people to share their ideas in a realm neither has delved into before.  Haha. Trust played a large part of the great communication this week.  I usually express what sound or feel I am going for in a song with analogies, metaphors, visions, or random sounds I’ve put together.  Not everyone would be receptive nor understand this.  I imagine some other musicians would need technical lingo, theoretical explanations, or perhaps have me to play out the song I created on a piano, etc?  This would have been near impossible for me to do quickly if at all this week.  Fortunately, I was able to feel comfortable with the producer and therefore, had the courage to let him know exactly what my ideas were.  I used visions of a boy building a cardboard ship to entice a playmate to join his playtime.  Otherwise, I used to be afraid or too weak of in fear of being judged or criticized for not knowing my music theory.  I’ve come to realize that this is now so.  The communication could not have been better received, understood and relayed back in the final sounds of the product.

COLLABORATION With knowing the background music would be completed by a professional music composer, I was able to find my place in the studio and own it.  I am a singer songwriter.  With knowing this now, I was able to see what the boundaries and obligations were around my job.  I was to create a melody and write the lyrics to the song. When the scratch version was figured out, the song was sent to the producer, who then added and enhanced the song by doing what he knows best…composing music.  In the past, I did not know what I actually wanted for a sound because I felt that the sound wasn’t representing me, as an artist accurately.  In contrast, now working for a project or other artist, the pressures are different and definitely not as hard on myself.  I get to change up the tempo, vibe, rhythm, depending on what’s needed.  Nothing is necessarily about me anymore, it’s about the song. When the main focus is the song, and the best interest of the song is taken in to consideration during collaboration, then it all makes sense.  Each player in the project is able to come to the table with their best assets, and when all parties are able to share a common ground of what the product is supposed to be.  Magic happens!   The pressure is off as a performer.  The pressure is off to be a great vocalist.  The pressure is off regarding what I need to look like, etc.  Long story, short…I was able to let myself be completely myself, communicate my ideas much more comfortably, and with a bit more confidence knowing the way I need to do things right now is ok. This challenge is the best thing that could have happened to me regarding my desire to be a songwriting.  Regardless of what songs get written, what I end up knowing more of in the end, I will complete the challenge having had the opportunity to embrace how I function in my craft.  But I am also grateful that this challenge has also been teaching e how to embrace my weakness, but to also be pushed to get better and only stronger over time.


The creation of CARDBOARD SAILBOAT included the following procedures:

– listening to the reference songs and getting a feel and tempo of these

– collaborating with the producer to figure out the vibe and sounds I wanted to be part of the background music.  We spoke about finding childhood instruments such as a xylophone of glockenspiel for a bit of quirkiness, and then getting a laid back playful groove such as JACK JOHNSON for it.

– In this case, I distinguished the structure of the song first and then I started to fiddle with the melody.  This usually takes the longest to create.  I have become more meticulous than ever making sure each part of the song has some kind of catchy element to it.  Sometimes, the chorus, verse and pre-chorus may be interchangeable because I try to make them all catchy standing on their own. This is something I just realized I do as often as I do, as hope to enhance this behaviour.

– Once melody, is created, probably the easiest and most focussed part occurs.  Lyric writing.  I need to have the melody playing over and over in the background because it allows me to feel the groove.  I am usually dancing to the feel as I am very visceral when it comes to music.  And then I need the space and comfort to allow myself to let go and begin grabbing onto the flow of consciousness, and logging down ideas.  I see my songs as stories or short films and begin to clip the visual  pieces together this way in my mind.  Then I begin to write to each scene.

– I enjoy writing in descriptive form and trying to say the most simplest action in metaphorical or just an alternative way than the norm.  Sometimes I don’t even notice I do it.  Basically, the first rough draft usually consists of way too many words, a page filled with scribbles, or simply a list of rhyming vocabulary.  From this I begin to trim the fat off and refine the structure of things.  I begin to put the puzzle pieces into their templates slots.

– When a scratch layout of melody, lyrics and vocals are complete.  I then record the song and listen back to see if it flows nicely.  I try to see if I get annoyed by its sounds, bothered by the structure or flow of the words, or simply do not enjoy the concept no longer, etc.  When I am satisfied, I send off to the producer to allow him to work his magic and add his creative touches to the music composition.

– Last but not least, I record the song and finalize the product.  I then re-listen to it a few times again to see how I feel.  I leave it alone even and then get back to listening to it and then when I feel good, it’s finally deemed complete:)

S.A.C. Challenge – Week #2 WRITING A POP HIT

I’m sitting in front of my computer screen and all I can think about and feel is overwhelm.  This has been the busiest week working on music, but also the most internally peaceful.  For the longest time, I was mixed between being an artist as a singer/songwriter  and simply loving the craft of writing.  The separation between the two was not clear to me.  Only when I gained clarity in mind of what it was I wanted, (and ironically, this just occurred three weeks ago), did my passions in life make so much sense.  Elements of my life seems to fall into place finally.

I enjoy writing songs for myself and performing them as a personal expression.  Something about emoting my feelings through lyrics and performance is very fulfilling, but when my singing is over, I am happy enough to leave just as is.  I’ve never had a need or strong urge to become famous, push for exposure and marketing, to become a master at an instrument, plan out a tour, or find the next gig.  These seem great, but as crazy as it may sound, I only realized recently that I love the writing and creating, more than being the performer.  I spent a good chunk of my life confused of what it was I wanted with my life.  Now it’s simple:

I am a creator.  I am a writer.  I enjoying creating melodies and writing lyrics for songs.  I love thinking up the videos that go with music.  I love hearing a beautiful song.  I love being emotional.  Yet at the same…

I enjoy singing out loud.  I enjoy performing.  I play rhythm guitar.  I love expressing myself through lyrics and melody.  But these are all for my own personal expression needs.  I love sharing art.

So with all this being said,  my past week was filled with me finding a way to create music for someone else for the very first time.  The challenge presented a template which pushed me into a realm of music making I have never dabbled in before.  My biggest obstacles within the given timeframe were that I do not play an instrument very well, I do not know how to use my own recording gear yet, and that I have a 6 year daughter’s schedule that I need to work around.  Finding down time and space to lose myself in lyric writing was probably the most challenging.  When it happened though…I couldn’t have been happier.

I am extremely grateful that a couple of friends around me are gifted with the ear of producing and composing music.  Having the privilege of them sharing their expertise with producing songs, allowed me the escape into doing what I love the most.  I create melody and write the lyrics to it.

The main skills I had to learn during this process consisted mainly of communication, collaboration, suggestion, respect, and time management.  I had to find a way to communicate the idea that I had in my mind, and with doing this, a lot of respect was necessary in order to convey concepts without the fear of being judged or criticized.  I had to let go of my ego and simply collaborate with the best interest of the song in mind.  Also, most times I am quite visceral when it comes to songs rather than theoretical.  Therefore, it was important this past week for me to choose my words carefully in order to convey what I was truly envisioning for a song.

This seemed to be the case for those whom I worked with as well.  When they had any suggestions, it was important that they communicate what they wanted as clear and effectively as possible.  Luckily, the people whom I worked with were both able to share exactly what their expectations were when coming on board.  With effective communication , I found that the respect, making positive suggestions and collaborating all fell into place so easier.  The work was ongoing, but what  a difference a positive relationship makes when you are in a studio together creating something special.

Lastly, I must share possibly the best aspect to writing this week.  As mentioned, I am visceral and really look for how a song makes me feel inside.  So what better way to find out whether I wrote a pop song than to have my 6-year-old help out!  Haha.  I would play the songs that I was working on and watch her dance.  This is the best indicator of great tempo.  When my daughter looked great moving, it was perfect, and when not, I would request a tempo change.  I honestly believe children are built with the most natural, accurate and innate metronome.  And lastly, I had my daughter wait in the other room as I played the choruses I was writing.  I would then ask her to repeat what she heard.  She would either repeat the words, and when she couldn’t, I asked that she hum the sound.  When she was able to repeat back the melody, I felt things were good to go.  Haha.

In conclusion, as mentioned in my last blog.  I am really happy to be pushing myself in such an amazing challenge.  I am simply taking resources around me and seeing what works for me at this point.  So far everything I have been accomplishing has come with great lessons, fun times, frustrations, and some relief.  The more I participate I am sure my process will become more streamlined for myself and any team members I collaborate with.  I look forward to this!  In the meantime though, I must get some much needed sleep and make sure my daughter is sleeping as well.  She danced a lot and needs rest.  Haha.

Definitely being challenged, but grateful,



It all truly began in high school.  I am a late bloomer to say the least.  I have always been a creative being, but it was not until the end of my grade 12 year that I shared a passion of mine with the world…songwriting.

Growing up, academics was a main focus in my family.  My parents were determined to have all of their children become doctors, lawyers, business owners, etc.  As most parents’ desire, mine wanted to be certain their children had the appropriate education for future success.  This was never a problem except with me being such a creative person, I needed an emotional outlet.  Initially, I found a method of self-expression through poetry.  Every time I was hurt, mad, had a crush on someone, felt confused, etc.  I found power in the pen.

A part of me always wanted to make my parents proud.  I studied hard.  A lot of good came out of this such as obtaining a competitive edge, focus, reward, goal setting.  As a result, I was also able to flourish in team sports.  So I studied hard as an academic and pushed harder as an athlete.  I graduated the Valedictorian of my Private Elementary School, became an All-Star Athlete and then graduated again, the Valedictorian of my high school.  I made my parents proud.  What I did not know…was that the night that I would deliver my last Valedictorian Speech, amongst a full house in The Performing Arts Theatre, my life would forever change!  This would be the birth of the creative, musical, expressive Bernadette I believe I needed to be.

A few weeks prior to the actual ceremonial night, some of my close girlfriends (the few that knew I could actually sing) convinced me to sing at graduation.  It was only an idea until I took it to next level and figured I would follow through with it.  My plan was to write, sing and perform my first song ever to a place full of my fellow graduates, family, friends, community members, teachers, etc…and keep it a surprise!

What was I thinking?  Still to this day, I have no idea.  I was so scared and yet felt like I really wanted to get this done. I decided to speak with a teacher at my school whom I was told was extremely musically inclined.  Mr. Adey.  This man was the link to making my idea come to life!  I did not play an instrument.  I had never written a song, performed in public (other than mandatory glee club in elementary),  and I definitely hadn’t sang a capella for someone before!  This is what Mr. Adey requested I do in order for him to compose the music to my melody.  One day after school, Mr. Adey brought his 4-track recorder to class and recorded me singing my tune.  In a few days, he had composed a piece of music which I was able to sing to.  I practiced until showtime.

To be honest, I cannot remember actually singing the song.  All I can remember is reciting my Valedictorian Speech, the principal’s voice through the monitors saying how ‘Bernadette Saquibal’ would now be sharing a personal surprise for the audience, the music starting, my mouth opening, and then, all of a sudden….I am standing there, in the middle of the stage, song has been sung, I begin to bawl my eyes out, the lights turn on, the place rises, and the rest is history.  This was my beginning…this is what set me free!