Laura Griffiths

Never A Silent Second

The dictionary describes a songwriter as “a person who writes the music and words of songs” - but I think a songwriter is much, much more than that…

Growing up, there was never a silent second. Music was nurtured into my soul, fed to me as a source of nutrition. George Michael, Sting, Take That, Stevie Wonder - they were all ingredients in the soul food that truly enhanced my life. As I continued to grow, I started discovering my own taste in music. I was inspired by everyone from Sam Smith and Adele to Joni Mitchell and John Mayer. Headphones became part of my everyday attire as I would continue to indulge in the creative music and lyrics of these phenomenal songwriters. My foundations were built on good music and I have grown from the inspiration found within these songs.

In primary school, English was my favourite subject – especially on the days when we were allowed to write. I had a fascination for storytelling from an extremely young age. I was engulfed in the world of words. Sometimes, I would quite happily sit in a corner, with my head wrapped up in a dictionary. Inconspicuous and floccinaucinihilipilification were among my favourite words – when I was six.

When I was seven, I wrote my first smash hit “My Grandma’s Kind, My Grandma’s Sweet – She Gives Me Stuff That’s Yum To Eat”. Though this song consisted of 3 chords, badly rhyming lyrics and a melody with absolutely no variation, I became totally hooked. The idea that self-expression, thoughts and feelings could be released through music, swept me off my feet like a knight in shining armour. The discovery that there was nothing holding me back from this world without rules, this exciting place of pure creation, was riveting. I have always been the person that wears their heart on their sleeve, so I had A LOT of emotion to express and this was the way I wanted to express it. 10 years on, I have written in excess of 300 songs.

I will admit, the majority of these are total flops, failed attempts at discovering who I am. But others, have gone on to win national competitions and secure me placement on international music courses.

And that’s the joy of it.

Music is self-discovery and compromise, failure and success, growing and learning. I was once told that performing an original song is like getting on stage naked and reading your diary to the audience. There is something addictive about the vulnerability of bearing your whole, uncensored self and darkest secrets in song. Feeling the tangible joy, sadness or empathy of an audience in response to your own music is special beyond words.

The dictionary describes a songwriter as “a person who writes the music and words of songs” – but the dictionary sells songwriters short. Creating a song is far, far more than writing music and words. Being a songwriter is about being inspired. Passionate. Fascinated. It’s about learning to share and express. I have never met anybody more in touch with their emotions than a songwriter. Because music is an authentic, individualised, innovative form of therapy. Songwriters thrive on the cathartic release provided when creating original music. Songwriting is feeling. It is versatile. It is sadness, joy and every emotion in between. To be a songwriter is all of these things – far, far beyond a dictionary.


Do you hear the song, or do you FEEL it?

– Laura Griffiths

Sacred Heart Girls College (New Plymouth) - 2018

Songwriters Speak

NZ Songwriters have their own take on what makes songwriting a vibrant, creative practice. They talk about their views.

About us

Come inside our world

Songwriting is a craft of the imagination and we believe that the creative environment surrounding songwriters should foster, expose and celebrate these songs. 

We run songwriting competitions with lyric, Maori language, Peace Song awards and others alongside. And we record at least 40 finalists each year in professional recording studios.

Songwriting, performance, and recording are the three pivots of our music evolution.

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NZ Songwriters have their own take on what makes songwriting a vibrant, creative practice - read their fresh perspectives in our Songwriters Speak page

Songwriters Speak

2017 Play It Strange Album

Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition Finalists - songs are free to stream and download

2018 Deadlines

We've designed a poster with all key deadlines and dates for our competitions. Make sure to stick them in your calendar!

Further information about each competitions entry requirements can be found below in our "Competitions" section. 

Online entry forms are now available for each competition.

Download the PDF and print it out, stick it up at school and hand it out to friends, get the word out there!

Download and Print

Different by May Zeng

Winner of the 2017 Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition 

Director/Producer: Mareea Vegas / DOP: Kent Belcher / Art dept: Alex Matthews / Editor: Zac Blair /
Post production: Henry Williamson @ Thievery Studio / Hair: Luci Hare / Makeup: Tiveshni Naidoo / Clothing: Thanks to Lela Jacobs
Special thanks to NZ On Air for their Special Tracks grant which covered the recording and film making.


Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition


The National Secondary School Songwriting Competition is the flagship programme of the Play It Strange Trust.

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Peace Song Competition


This competition seeks songs with the lyrics embodying a focus on Peace. N.B. We are unable to offer the Hiroshima Exchange prizes this year.

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Who Loves Who Competition


The Winner and all Finalists have been announced.
For all secondary school students in NZ.
The competition is judged based on the originality of the cover you choose to rearrange and sing, written and performed by a kiwi artist.
Supported by a Music Grant from Recorded Music NZ.

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Strange Art


Play It Strange presents a Cover Art competition to celebrate all creatives at New Zealand Secondary Schools. 

This competition seeks an Album Artwork for the front cover of the 2018 Play It Strange Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition.

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What we do

We do all sorts of cool projects

Play It Strange has worked for over 10 years, striving to provide secondary students with a platform they can use to pursue their musical adventures. We've held concerts, workshops and competitions, all with the intentions to provide the right environment from which students can gain confidence, self-belief and an impetus for a career path they would like to follow.

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Songwriting is now an NCEA achievement standard

Songwriting will be offered as Level 3 NCEA achievement standard beginning 2017 - a victory!

Get Involved

Strange Friends

Patrons, Strange Friend Stars and our Strange Friends are a crucial and valuable community that support us.

We would love you to come on board.
All donations are tax deductible.

If you are interested in becoming a Platinum Patron or Strange Friends Star or indeed support Play It Strange in any way please give us a call, we would love to catch up and talk.

Email Us(09) 377 7919

Songwriting at University of Waikato

University of Waikato have completed their first Songwriting paper

University of Waikato summer paper ‘Introduction To SONGWRITING’ has just finished.
Students have finalised the tracking of their two songs and the results are very cool.

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I Know This To Be True was conceived and assembled by Geoff Blackwell of PQ Blackwell, and Ric Salizzo. It is a book about truth, beauty and wisdom. "Sixty New Zealanders in the middle of interesting lives talk about what really matters, truth and beauty, and the things they hold dear to their hearts."

Royalties from the book sales will be forwarded to PLAY IT STRANGE to further their website and school programmes.

I Know This To Be True is an incredible collection of New Zealanders discussing what it is that is important to them. PQ Blackwell have generously donated all profits from book sales to Play It Strange. We cannot thank them enough for their support of Play It Strange, and we are so grateful to be part of such a rich, inspiring project.

The book is available for purchase from any good book store in New Zealand and online. Go and get one and enjoy!

Listen to more of our songs here 

The songs on our Bandcamp are free to stream and download. Go crazy. They are there for your listening.


See what our Alumni are up to

Play It Strange songwriters that have had their songs recorded for the annual CD are making cool inroads out into the world. Their career paths were fuelled from their time at school during which they sent their songs into our competitions and triumphed.

Here we have a selection of those who hit the ground running when they left school. With songwriting, performance and recording experience they were capable and poised for action.

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Happy customers and clients

CUSTOMERS: Those philanthropic institutions, individuals, grants bodies and funding agencies. We applaud their generosity in supporting us and their focus on the benefits we bring to the society around us.

CLIENTS: The songwriters and performers that bring their imaginative craft and performing skills to bear and we are all rewarded. From the secondary school songwriting competitions to the recording sessions for the top 40 songs.

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We Are One

A Concert for Autism

Watch Seven Sharp's story on our WE ARE ONE - Concert for Autism here

Photo GalleryNZ Musician Magazine Review