Playing Well with Others: SummerSongs’ Nathen Aswell

Part of becoming a better songwriter and musician is making great music with others — SummerSongs West (June 3-7 in Cambria, CA) is thrilled to welcome Nathan Aswell to our teaching roster this year, where he’ll be teaching a class called “Play Well with Others” and another “Chart Writing 101.” Both classes will get you playing with other musicians easily and joyfully in no time!

Here’s what Nathen has to say about his SummerSongs West classes:

Q: Why do you think it is important for musicians and songwriters to learn how to play together as opposed to just being a solo artist?

A: Whether a musician and/or songwriter is a solo artist, part of a band, or a “gun for hire”, making music is a GROUP activity, and learning what to play and WHEN to play is key. As part of an ensemble of any kind, the goal of everyone involved is to make EVERYONE look and sound good. As an artist – solo or otherwise – this goal includes the audience!
Q: What can we learn from professional musicians that will help us become more professional ourselves when communicating with other people we are playing with?

A: Music is a language. Being able to speak that language helps us to quickly and easily articulate what we want to musically express, so that we can focus on MAKING music and not waste precious time on explaining what we want. Being able to do this will be appreciated by the professional musicians with whom you play, will make them feel respected, and will earn you their respect.

Q: Can anyone learn how to write a chart of a song?

A: Absolutely! A chart is simply a “road map” of a song; with a few symbols, that map can usually be a page in length. And having good charts – meaning accurate, and simple can still be accurate – is part of #2 above (being able to speak the language of music).

Nathen Aswell is a gifted speaker, recording artist, coach and podcaster based in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and he believes that his calling in this life is to inspire and heal through his talks and his heart-centered music-making.

SummerSongs, founded by singer-songwriter Penny Nichols in 1999, offers seasonal songwriting camps (summer and winter) for adults on both the East and West coasts of the United States. The songwriting camps take place in the Hudson River Valley 30 miles north of New York City; and on the beautiful California Central Coast, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Both locations are perfect havens for songwriting and creative inspiration.

Join us for our 2016 summer retreats:
SummerSongs West: June 3-7: Camp Ocean Pines, Cambria, CA
SummerSongs East: July 31-August 6 (half-week and full-week available, registration info to come soon!!!), Stony Point Center, Stony Point, NY

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Got questions? Email founder Penny Nichols at or Sharon Goldman, marketing director, at