The Toronto Songwriters Association (TSA) is a non-profit, cooperative group dedicated to furthering the joy and craft of songwriting. Membership is free and open to singer-songwriters in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond who compose, sing and play their own songs.
The TSA originated with a group of songwriters who met at a Humber College songwriting workshop. Informal extra-curricular gatherings gradually became more consistent in frequency and format. New members originally joined via word-of-mouth or via ads placed in local arts publications. We founded the TSA in the fall of 2004 and officially launched it at a songwriters’ evening in December of that year. We created the TSA website in 2006. The website was redesigned as a WordPress site in 2012.
Membership is based on participation. TSA members are songwriters who attend meetings, present original songs, participate in helpful discussions about other members’ songs, play at TSA events, and take an active role in the affairs and future plans of the TSA.
TSA meetings are friendly in-person or online gatherings where songwriters present and critique new songs in a respectful, supportive, patient and open-minded atmosphere. The goal is always to help each other develop as songwriters. We encourage members to attend meetings even if they don’t have a new song to present that month. At the end of each meeting, we adopt an assignment to write in the next month. Although the assignment is optional and members are free to present any new work they wish, some of our most memorable songs have come from monthly assignments. It’s a simple format that works. Our members consistently report that they are able to write more and better songs after joining the TSA.
The TSA is committed to fostering an environment of respect for the rights, dignity, safety, and sensibilities of its members in all its activities, be they in-person or through online meetings, at TSA-sponsored public performances, or in any situation in which a member is delegated to represent the TSA. In particular, we ask participants at TSA meetings to be mindful that subjects and language which they feel comfortable sharing through their songs may unintentionally trigger stressful responses in others. One person’s innocent clever remark could give rise to another’s painful memory. At TSA meetings, songwriters can lessen such a possibility with a thoughtful word or two about the song before they sing it. Members are also encouraged to point out potentially troublesome aspects of a song directly to the songwriter in a respectful manner, as part of the standard feedback / critique time following a performance, or shortly thereafter. Our aim, after all, is to help each other develop as songwriters.
Members vary in age, songwriting experience, musical skill and style. At our meetings and at public shows, you will hear anything from pop to rock to folk to cabaret to art song, to name a few. The TSA does not promote any particular method or model of songwriting; we draw on the best traditions and rely on our members’ diverse experience. Our members decide for themselves what to write about, how and why to write, and what to do with their songs. As a collective, we offer support and encouragement for our members’ independent songwriting activities through interaction and exchange within a community of songwriters.