Galdston said it was Frey's idea that a few of the students perform as the opening act. Using a violin, a piano, a cello and a guitar, the three students worked through three songs that received a warm reception from the audience.
The students and the teachers said the goal of the class was not to look for the next big hit, but instead how to tell stories through music and end up with great songs. Weekly assignments included writing a song with no chorus or with a limited number of chords, then the teachers and the students worked on the songs in their next classes.
Tiger Darrow, a sophomore from Dallas studying music composition, said Frey helped her focus on the idea of telling a big story into a small package — a song. She said she and her colleagues weren't intimidated working with Frey, although she got a bit nervous when she realized the details of his legendary life.
Frey explained how songwriting classes weren't available when he was trying to make it as a musician, and he instead worked on his craft with masters like Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Bob Seger. "We just said, 'I wonder if they'd like this,'" Frey recalled of songwriting with those musicians.
A.J. Smith, a senior studying music composition from Washington, D.C., said Frey helped focus the students on the songwriting process and the idea that all parts of their songs "should be something someone can feel and appreciate."
He also said Frey noted that the Eagles even tried to make their guitar solos "sing-able" — thus the reason almost everyone knows the final minutes of the song "Hotel California," a surefire highlight of Thursday night's show.
Lou Ferrara is an AP managing editor. He can be followed at twitter.com/LouFerrara.