Our Story

Since its beginnings as an artist-in-residency project in 1990, SW has engaged more than 3,400 participants. Our expertise is in making, composing, and performing music accessible to people of all musical backgrounds and experience and across the continuum of physical, cognitive and emotional/mental health. SW’s signature songwriting projects and practitioner training programs have taken place in 20 regions across the U.S. and Canada.
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Songwriting Works’ approach is research-vetted and internationally recognized as a model of innovation in Intergenerational Community Engagement and Education, Creative Aging and Creativity throughout the Lifespan, Alzheimer’s and Dementia Arts and Care Partnering.

Guided by SW’s 8 Principles of Creative Engagement – Access, Inclusion, Originality, Authenticity, Respect, Reciprocity, Restoration, and Celebration –professional musicians, trained and certified as SW facilitators, invite participants age 4 to 100+ into collaborative musical experiences. Over the years, these collaborations have birthed 300+ original songs, 13 of which will appear on SW’s full-length album, Life’s a Song.

The SW experience has been shown to:

  • Transform loneliness and depression into communication and joy
  • Cultivate new friendships across generations while boosting self-esteem, empowerment and dignity for all
  • Support well-being and spark brain activity for those living with memory loss and other health challenges
  • Illuminate new avenues of enjoyment, creative expression and understanding for families/loved ones living with dementia
  • Unite music lovers across differences in age, culture, class, education, language, ability and musical experience
  • Raise awareness of musical intelligence and the power of song while dissolving stigmas about aging and dementia

Songwriting Works incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization in 2009. Prior to that, SW operated as a non-profit fiscally sponsored project of Brava! for Women in the Arts (1995-2002) and SEEDS (2003-09). Arts Northwest (ANW) served as the fiscal agent for SW’s 2009 National Endowment for the Arts Creativity and Aging in America project.