Songwriting Tips from a Grammy Award-Winning Musician

songwritingMany movies these days are filled with special effects, incredible cinematography and overall glitz and glamor. But for people like Marc S., two-time Grammy Award-winning songwriter, the magic is in the music.

Marc earned his awards for his songwriting work on “Trust in Me” from The Bodyguard soundtrack, and “(I’ll Give) Anything But Up,” featured on Marlo Thomas’ Thanks and Giving All Year Long. With over 25 years of experience in the music industry, Marc’s success is clearly a result of his hard work and dedication to his craft!

As a new teacher with TakeLessons, Marc offered to answer a few questions about his path to success. Check out the interview below…

, TakeLessons staff member and blogger

How did you get started with playing music and songwriting?

I started playing the clarinet when I was nine years old.  That didn’t last very long!  I switched to guitar at ten.  I always loved it but found it challenging. When I was thirteen, I met a teacher who, after one lesson, said to my folks, “Your son is the most natural bass player I have ever seen… why is he playing guitar?”  The rest is history; I became obsessed. My parents probably never liked him too much after that day!

I stumbled upon songwriting by accident.  I seemed to become the designated “arranger” in so many of my bands, just because I could hear all of the parts in my head. My mentor at the time was a very famous songwriter and he urged me to start writing… so I did. One of the first songs I wrote ended up being recorded by Joe Cocker. Beginner’s luck, I guess!

How do you find inspiration for your songs?
Ahh, the age-old question! Personal experiences, mood, how the sun is shining, divine inspiration???  No one really knows what brings on inspiration. The point is – it comes.  The trick is not to let it go.  You almost have to drop whatever you’re doing in the moment and just go for it, because inspiration can be brief.  You have to pay attention.

Not everything I write is worthy of the pen and paper, but it is the art of it all that keeps me going.  More often than not, you can tell when something special is brewing.  That’s a pretty amazing feeling!

What advice do you have for students hoping to break into the music industry?
Remember why you started playing music.  For fun?  For love?  Because it made you feel like you weren’t alone?  Figure it out and keep going back to that. The music business is no picnic.  It’s important to remember why you’re in it.  And practice a lot!

Songwriting requires a lot of creativity. How do you keep your creativity levels high and the ideas coming?
Be a sponge.  I listen well and observe my surroundings.  I also keep up on current events.  It sounds obvious but it’s true.  I take everything in so that when inspiration hits, I have something to draw from.  Also, I try to live my life in the most authentic and simple way possible.  Sometimes your art can mimic your life.  And aren’t the most honest and uncomplicated songs always the most memorable?

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Long Branch teacher Marc S.Marc S. teaches bass guitar, guitar, music performance, music recording, music theory, percussion, songwriting, speaking voice, and organ lessons to students of all ages in Long Branch, NJ. For over 25 years, Marc has collaborated with some of the top artists and writers in the music business. Learn more about Marc, or visit TakeLessons to find a teacher near you!

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