I cannot think of any organization, whether it’s a non-profit, a church, civic, or on the magnitude of St. Jude Children’s Hospital that does not have some sort of an outreach program. Outreach programs are essential in promoting education and awareness, supporting, and enhancing the growth of an organization. NSAI as a not-for-profit songwriter trade association is no different. The 83 chapters worldwide serve as NSAI’s outreach program. As stated in the “About NSAI” section on the organization’s website – NSAI educates, elevates, and celebrates the songwriter.
There are many benefits of being active in a local chapter that are an invaluable extension of the list of credits that come with a yearly NSAI membership. Whether a member lives in one of the major music hubs, other parts of the US, or the world, local chapters provide the opportunity to meet with like-minded people interested in songwriting and on a journey to get better at the craft. Local chapters are a huge networking opportunity. I’ve seen friendships develop among members here in our Tidewater, Virginia chapter resulting in co-writes that have produced some really great songs. Additionally, we have members with skills in production and recording that are willing to help fellow chapter members take their tunes to the next level. One of the most beneficial aspects of a local chapter is that it’s a forum where members receive immediate feedback on their songs from a variety of songwriters across genres and age groups. The members of our chapter are all special in their own way and always have much to offer in the effort to elevate fellow chapter members. The list goes on!
There are a few things that I believe are essential for the success of a local chapter. It goes without saying a healthy NSAI member participation is key. This can make or break a chapter. In the support effort, I think having two coordinators (or more for some larger chapters) is essential. I’m fortunate that I have a great co-coordinator and we work extremely well together. I think it is important that chapter members have confidence in their coordinators. My co-coordinator and I get asked periodically for advice and sometimes direction. We may not always have the answer right away but we know the resources available to get an answer. We put forth good efforts to be servant leaders for our chapter members and I think it is recognized. My co-coordinator and I stay involved in some degree of continuing education (formal and informal) that helps us be responsive to our chapter members. Lastly, we’ve found that it is important to have a constant and continuous dialog with our Nashville NSAI family. The relationship we’ve fostered with them has benefited our chapter in efforts to promote training and education, and they are our resource for all things regarding policy and membership. We make an effort to share chapter member success stories and good songs with them so they have validation that their efforts on behalf of our members are appreciated by the “outside Nashville” NSAI member community.
In the conduct of our monthly chapter meetings, we start off by giving our members the opportunity to relay what’s going on with their songwriting efforts and music. This can be anything from writing achievements and opportunities, success stories within the local music scene, scheduled gigs, and any information sharing beneficial to the group. Each member gets an opportunity to talk about themselves and we think this is important. After all, the chapter exists to support the members. We all know people are busy. We can’t assume members regularly log on to the NSAI website and discover the ongoing opportunities that are available. We add to our agenda up-and-coming events and opportunities to ensure members are aware of them in case they want to participate. If time permits, we sometimes work on a songwriting exercise. However, the main event for our chapter meeting is the song presentations and feedback. People find this to be the most beneficial part of our monthly chapter meetings. It is so rewarding to see their improvements over time. The songs that get presented reflect the personalities of each member and it is an awesome part of the meeting that I look forward to each month. With the level of participation by our chapter members, I think they feel the same.
If there’s an NSAI chapter in your area and you’re not participating, you’re missing out on some great opportunities. I truly believe if a person is active and committed to the success of the chapter, your skills as a songwriter will improve immensely. I’ve seen it happen with the members of our chapter and I’ve experienced it for myself. I have learned something at every meeting I’ve attended since this chapter was started. Affiliate with your local chapter, participate and you’ll really enjoy the craft of songwriting first-hand.