Craig Cardiff takes sips from his pink fruit smoothie while he sits on the floor of a small stage with his guitar in hand and feet enclosed in wool socks.
“Everybody here has something to share,” he says.
The 40-year-old Juno-nominated singer-songwriter leads a group of Algonquin students in a song writing workshop in the Commons corner lounge on Feb. 7.
Cardiff, who has performed at the college several times, routinely does workshops before his main concerts in the schools.
“Why not get the chance to connect with people” says Cardiff in explaining his community involvement.
The dozen workshop participants were happy he was there.
“I really wanted to do something new,” says Anastasia Young in an interview with the Times. Young is a first-year travel and tourism student and while she is not a musician, she understands the importance of bettering the art one produces.
“We’re always trying to make ourselves better in every area of our lives,” she says. “So why not in writing, or in our craft?”
Young explains the benefit she sees in asking others for feedback when creating new music or any form of art. The ideas and feedback of others can assist in leading to “opportunities for growth” and collaborative creations.
In her eyes, having other people around is a necessity, not simply a want.
The students wrote songs in small groups. Cardiff gave the groups a time limit, then had them perform for each other.
Among them was Jake Devine.
“I’m pretty stubborn,” says Devine, first-year introduction to music industry arts student. He had never written a song with other people before, but opened himself to the idea of doing so during the workshop.
Devine attended the workshop because he “wanted to see someone else’s perspective on how they write songs.”
Devine’s classmate, Felix Ducharme, had also never written music with other people before.
“I don’t write with people, but I think maybe I should start,” says Ducharme. “Different perspectives aren’t so bad.”
Cardiff told the Times that he hopes the experience will lead students to connect with one another outside of the workshop.
“We spend all our time alone then wonder why we get stuck,” he says, underlining the advantages of writing music with others.
Cardiff’s smooth voice and rhythmic finger picking echoed through the walls of the candlelit room when he performed for an intimate audience after the workshop.
“There’s always a surplus of bad things if we look for them,” said Cardiff, as he told the story of his Boy Inside the Boat. He told the audience that he wrote the song after seeing many negative things happening in the world – deaths, terror attacks and more.
“Music can bring people together,” said Jasmine Zheng, first-year photography student. “I really enjoyed this experience.”