Women’s History Month: Inspired Songwriting

Contributing writer Laura Webster ’91 Primary and Upper School Music Teacher. 

Hathaway Brown School’s songwriting class is open to all students with knowledge of music theory and who play a harmonic instrument such as piano, guitar or ukulele. Students in the class meet for a full year to learn the basics of songwriting: melody, harmony, song structure and lyrics. This sequential and developmental course is both lecture and lab based. Students record their compositions and submit them on-line as well as play them for the class. The class gives critical and constructive feedback. Students have the opportunity and are required to play at Brown Bag Lunch Concerts as well as outside venues such as Gamekeeper’s Taverne and Nighttown. Special guest artists such as Jim Brickman and Anne Cochran, Dar Williams and SoNuvo present masterclasses where student’s work is presented and given consideration by masters in the field. Songwriters are involved in HB’s Annual Young Writers and Artist Festival. The course culminates in a performance of student work at an established music venue such as Nighttown or Bop Stop.

In conjunction with HB’s Women’s History Month Celebrations, a few of our Upper School songwriters are sharing their recent compositions as well as the female songwriters who inspire them.

Name: Emme Semarjian
Grade: 10
Song title: “Lovin’ You So”
Inspiration: I have been writing music and playing instruments since I was little, but I have yet to write a song that is actually about a specific person or event in my life. Often a combination of emotions from different events spark ideas for my lyrics, but they aren’t about specifically one topic. I often can connect some of my songs to things that have happened to me after I have finished writing, but other times they are just random words put to music that sounds nice.
Favorite female songwriters: Regina Spector, Emeli Sande, and Sara Bareilles are my top three!


Name: Brett Parsons
Grade: 12
Song title: “Letters”
Inspiration: The inspiration from this song came because of a trick started doing where when I have a lot of emotions and don’t know what to say I write letters that I will never send as a cathartic release.
Favorite female songwriters: My biggest songwriting influence and one of my favorite songwriters of all time is Brandy Carlile, she has such an ability to tell stories beautifully that I really admire and aspire to emulate.
Name: Hannah Schmidt
Grade: 11
Song title: “Miranda’s Song”
Inspiration: The character of Miranda from The Tempest by William Shakespeare
Favorite female songwriters: Carole King always amazes me – especially in her later work – with how she was able to pour so much of her personal experiences into songs that didn’t have overly complicated lyrics, yet they were probably more meaningful than if she would have used more words.

Name: Katy Nettis
Grade: 10
Song title: “Love Lies” (collaboration with Elena Flauto)
Inspiration: Relationships
Favorite female songwriters: Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Billie Eilish

Name: Elena Flauto
Grade: 9
Song Title: “Love Lies” (collaboration with Katy Nettis)
Inspiration: I am inspired by Adele because she writes songs about past experiences that many people can relate to.
Favorite female songwriters: Adele, Beyonce, and Alicia Keys

Name: Brigette Fuentes
Grade: 9
Song Title: “Place of My Own”
Inspiration: Searching for who you are
Name: Maria Kondratova
Grade: 9
Song title: “One Chance,” written by Maria, Brigette Fluentes, and Hanna Harlor.
Favorite female songwriters: Taylor Swift and Adele. I love how they both write about their experiences and are very relatable. They both take credit for their work, if they think something is wrong they will speak up for themselves.They are so different but they inspire so many with their beautiful voices.


As a girls’ school with a 142-year history of educating and empowering young women, Hathaway Brown is proud to celebrate Women’s History Month. Every day this March, we’ll be sharing content related to our own school history and we’ll be featuring the voices of women in the HB community and beyond. New material will be posted throughout the month on all of our digital platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, HBlog, and hb.edu, so be sure to follow along for videos, inspirational quotes, special contests, and much more. Among other things, we’ll be marking the 20th anniversary of our signature Science Research & Engineering Program on March 6, enthusiastically honoring International Women’s Day on March 8, highlighting our fourth graders’ Notable Women projects on March 14, posting photos from abroad as our students experience life in six different countries through programs designed by the Center for Global Citizenship during Spring Break, and sharing an array of material from our archives all month long. We’d love to add your voice to the mix as well, so please like, comment, and share. 




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