Listen to become a good songwriterIf you want to be a good songwriter, I’ve got a really good piece of advice for you. Listen way more than you talk. What do I mean by that? Well, it’s a multi-layered idea, but I will share it with you.

First, I want you to grasp a really important fact. I am in a massive community of songwriters, numbering well into the thousands, and after varying degrees of career success, virtually none of them still play the first songs they ever wrote. Why does that matter? It gives some perspective that professional songwriters have always used their early composing experiences for growth and development and that with continued writing practice, they got better and better. That should not only motivate you that work and practice will give eventual results, but also awaken you to the fact that you may be falling too much in love with your own early writing.

It’s really important for me to share this powerful observation with you. Whenever I attend song evaluation events, at songwriting workshops, song pitches, songwriting guild meetings, master classes, either as an evaluator or an observer, I tend to see the same thing over and over again. The moderators and panel members at these events usually have incredibly insightful things to say about the songs that they review; the same sorts of things that I tend to tell students about their songs when I’m asked to evaluate them. If each songwriter who submitted a song were to carefully listen to the feedback they are receiving, they could almost instantaneously accelerate their songwriting development. They are given numerous golden recommendations of things that they could do to make their songs better, hookier, more commercial or sellable. Continue reading »

My Songwriting CoachWhen you ask yourself, “How do I learn songwriting or become a better songwriter,” the answer just might take you outside of traditional pathways. The goal is to achieve a naturalness to the variety of musical choices you can make so that you can say what you feel about any subject and put it into a musical context that touches the people who hear it as a song!

I was just speaking to a prospective student who expressed a feeling that I have heard over and over again for as long as I have been coaching songwriters. He said that he took college music theory and composition classes, and even did well enough in the classes to get A’s, yet he is totally unsure how to apply any of what he learned. Why do you think that might be? It is certainly the way almost every student I’ve ever spoken to feels about formal training.

In order to successfully apply what is taught in music theory classes in college, you need to be able to separate what you learn from the era and genre in which that device was originated. I often express to students that there are only seven notes in a scale, and seven chords in a key, and that they are the same ones used by both Mozart and Ozzy Osborne. The trick is to see the big, big picture, and not be sucked into the fact that you might be learning the music theory through the vehicle of a Cantata by Bach. If you get stuck in the formatting of the classical approach that you are studying, you may never be able to feel how that technique might cross over into usefulness for a Rock, Pop, Folk, Country, or Jazz song in the 21st Century. Continue reading »

My Songwriting Coach, Getting IdeasGetting ideas for your various songwriting projects can be one of the biggest challenges to a songwriter. I’m sure you can join me in remembering times when you felt like writing a song, or even felt musically inspired to write, and just seemed to sit and stare at an empty page, never quite coming up with that quality idea. Well, I have a great solution so that you will never or, at least rarely, have to endure that experience.

I propose that you keep with you at all times, a “line and title” notebook. Of course I realize it’s 2012, and you’re more likely to carry a Smart Phone, iPad or other tablet, laptop, or even a portable, digital voice recorder. However, there is nothing that triggers creative juices like holding the pen in your hand and writing it out the “old fashioned” way. Ask Sting. So I still recommend a small notebook; Nothing too big, but just a small, manageable journal book that you can write in. Continue reading »

My Songwriting Coach Avoid Writer's BlockWe’re so happy that you found your way to our Song Chat blog. We will be regularly discussing everything that has to do with songwriting, and it is our intention to help you build a better tool box, filled with extremely useful songwriting tools. If you are a beginning, hunt and peck type writer, we’ll show you what you need to do. If you’ve already got several songs under your belt, we’ll take you from modeling your songs after your favorite artist’s songs, and show you how to begin creating something truly original that still has commercial value. Even those of you who are advanced songwriters will find material here that you may never have considered, and remember, it only takes one new idea to launch something new and remarkable.

The premise that we operate from, and it should be fairly obvious to you, is that songwriters can be developed and cultivated, they’re not just born. So if songwriting isn’t currently easy for you, you probably just don’t have enough information. We will be dissecting the elements of songwriting a couple times a week here in this blog, so we recommend that you bookmark this page, or even better, subscribe to the RSS feed.

This will be an exciting adventure. We have helped countless songwriters gain a firm grasp of all of the musical tools that songwriters need to know as well as lead them down a pathway of introspection about what’s going on in their life and in their world, so that they’re constantly developing ideas to write songs about. Whether you need to work on your lyric writing, your melodies, or your chord progressions, you are in the right place. And if you ever want to go faster than the posts in this blog can lead you to go, please contact My Songwriting Coach, we’d love to have you as a private student or welcome you into one of our group classes.

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