Over spring break, Berklee students attended industry trips to L.A., Nashville, New York City, and Atlanta. Here, a participant in the Nashville trip, Liya Atanasova, recounts the week’s experience.

By Liya Atanasova

Students on the Nashville Spring Break TripThe Nashville trip just might be the most inspirational opportunity Berklee offers to its students. During this life-changing trip we attended clinics and master classes with award winning songwriters, producers and performers such as Gary Burr, Matt Rollings, Liz Longley, David Cobb, Sierra Hull, Kathy Mattea, Jamie O’Neal, Carly Pearce, Emily Shackelton-James, Allen Shamblin, Kyle Lehning, and Mike Reid, where they talked about the different approaches they have when writing music, shared with us their philosophies on life and art, their survival guides for the business, but most of all—their personal stories. They opened up to us, and described some of their toughest times; the years of ups and downs until they got to where they are now. It was incredibly humbling and inspiring to see all of these people that we look up to and admire open up and show us that they are simply human.

Get a scenic view of the Nashville trip in this short video:

Apart from the insightful clinics, we had multiple panels, which included Berklee alumni Eric Masse, Carnival’s publishing Courtney Gregg, and producer Frank Liddel, as well as an alumni panel with Annie Clements, Kim Wheeler, James Farrell, and Greg Becker, and a publishing panel with Michelle Attardi, Daniel Ross, and Dane Schmidt.

Between the panels and clinics, there were constant running studio tours in which students were able to visit studios such as Blackbird, Ocean Way, Omni, Parlour, Sound Emporium, Southern Ground, Starstruck, Welcome to 1979, as well as the Ryman Auditorium.

Of course, the trip did not go without any fun social activities. Each night we did different things, such as a songwriting open mic at Warner Music Group, a bluegrass jam session at Station Inn., alumni showcase concert, and an alumni reception BBQ night where we met a lot of alumni who are currently living and working in Nashville.

The trip ended with a live recording session at the Tracking Room with Charlie Worsham, Steve Gibson, Larry Paxton, Mike Noble, Randy Hart, Eddie Bayers, and Ed Seay.

This trip not only taught me a lot about songwriting, but also more about what it means to be human and an artist, having ups and downs in life, as well as in the music industry. So I will leave you with some of my favorite quotes that I was able to write down during the seven days in Nashville:

“If you look at it as a crisis, it will be a crisis. If you look at it as an opportunity, it will be an opportunity.” —Kathy Mathea

“There are no bad songs, because they take you to the next one.” —Allen Shamblin

“It’s not a journey, it’s a dance.” —Mike Reid

“If you are lucky, you will hurt and you will fail.” —Kyle Lehning

Liya AtanasovaLiya Atanasova is a singer and songwriter from Sofia, Bulgaria currently studying performance and songwriting under the professional music major at Berklee.