Making Music From Nothing is a 6 week series of music making workshops I created as part of Cardboard Citizens’ “Act Now” programme.

The workshops have helped young people, who at some degree feel that something holds them back, from getting started in their creative journeys into music making.

The 2 hour workshops are accessible online, and through online demonstration, showcasing, discussion, and completing tasks, participants have explored idea generation, songwriting, production and basic recording all through their mobile phone or laptop. I have now completed 12 weeks as a facilitator in total, on both part one and part two.

Participants gained new skills and learned new approaches to songwriting and coming up with ideas by working on tasks such as how to generate and write lyrics inspired by film and TV scenes, structure their ideas into songs using song-maps and writing top-line melodies to beats and instrumentals.

The following is an overview of how the workshops run each week and what participants gain from getting involved (click to view breakdown).

Example Week

This week we looked specifically at ideas and how we can generate them. We discussed what we thought ideas to be, where they can be soured and discussed how everything originates from an idea. We shared music that we felt conveyed great, clear and concise ideas and reflected on why we chose them.

The group identified ideas as:

  • something imagined or pictured in the mind
  • a thought or suggestion that can lead to a possible course of action

Mini-challenge: write a rap to with your name. eg. Hey, I’m Charley and I like to party…

Main challenge: pick a film or movie scene and complete a free-write using prompt questions.


Simply put, ekphrasis is “art that describes art”. It’s a verbal representation of a visual representation and can be used to create interesting lyrical or poetic ideas from things you watch. The group was asked to pick a scene (most without dialogue) from either the film Joker, 28 Days Later, Lost in Translation or Fences and describe what they see, think and feel when reacting to the moving images. The following prompts were used to help generate ideas.


  • What is shown?
  • What do you literally see?
  • What is the creator trying to show you?
  • Colour, texture, atmosphere


  • What does it mean to you?
  • What do you think it means?
  • What different meanings does it have?
  • Why was it made?
  • Imagine the whole story… write it!


  • How does it make you feel?
  • How was the creator feeling?
  • How might the character or subject be feeling?
  • What about anyone in the background?

O u t c o m e

The group free-wrote for 15 minutes and were impressed with how much inspiration they could take from moving media and how many lyrical ideas could be created from different view points. Participants were encouraged to continue to question what they see around them, especially movies and TV in the hope it will help them to generate lyrical and poetic ideas.