Not sure where to start when it comes to writing songs? Check out these songwriting tips from Austin, TX teacher Gfire M...
I started writing songs fairly early on at age 11, but I never thought about songwriting technique until later, when I studied with teachers from Berklee College, and in Los Angeles and Nashville. I now have songs that have been played on more than 200 radio and television programs around the world, including UnderCurrents, a syndicated program that airs on more than 65 NPR radio stations in the United States. It was a natural progression to teach what I know about songwriting to my singing, piano, and guitar students who wanted to express themselves in an individual manner. Here are two questions to ask yourself before writing a song:
1. What is your song about?
It is best if you can express the idea you want to convey in a single sentence. Songs are very short, averaging 3-5 minutes in length, so you really want to stay focused on one idea. Some examples are: “You and I will never, ever, ever, get back together,” “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and “Your love lifts me higher and higher.” Write your sentence on the top of the page you are using to write your new song!
2. What song formula are you going to follow?
If you study songs that you like, you will notice that there are formulas that a lot of songs follow. One common formula is verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus. (Check out Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” for an example of this formula.) So if we call the verse “A,” the chorus “B,” and the bridge “C,” the formula would be called A, B, A, B, C, B. Start with this formula for your first song — all you really have to write is two verses, a chorus, and a bridge.
Other Songwriting Tips to Consider
If your first song isn’t as good as the ones you hear on the radio, don’t worry – it’s your first song! If you write a new song every month this year, you’ll have 12 songs and you will get better and better at really expressing what you want to say and developing your songwriting voice.
You should also study your favorite bands and songwriters — analyze the structure of your favorite songs and then practice writing a song that follows that same structure. Again, the more you practice writing songs — and I do recommend completing each song, whether you think it is any good or not — the more you’ll refine your technique.
Find a Songwriting Teacher
A teacher can give you even more songwriting tips as you work on your songs. Just as you would take months or years of singing, guitar, or piano lessons, if you book lessons with a good songwriting teacher and invest a minimum of three months of lessons and practical work (i.e. write and finish one song per month), you will get better much faster than if you are on your own.
You already are a unique person with plenty of stories and experiences to share. Now give yourself the chance to be the songwriter you always dreamed of being!!
Gfire teaches music theory, opera voice, piano, singing, and songwriting in Austin, TX. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Music from University of Maryland, as well as her Master of the Science of Singing from Ernest George White Society. Learn more about Gfire here!
Photo by himpemelissa