5 Things You Can Do to Take Your Songwriting to the Next Level

Next Level Songwriting Headphone MusicYou’ve started to write songs.  You really enjoy creating these songs.  Up to now it has only been a hobby but now you want to take it more seriously.  You’re creating some great sounding songs, but now it’s time to improve your skills as a songwriter.  Here are some ways to help move you toward next level songwriting.

Learn Music Theory

Understanding music theory can help you with the inner workings of how music is put together.  To get start you need to pick up a good music theory book or enroll in lessons.  The essence of music theory will help you learn about scales, chords, rhythms, harmony.  Learning these elements in music will make you a better songwriter.

Emulate the Pros

Do you have a favorite songwriter?  If you do take some time and learn for them.  To do this start listening to what they do.  Then try to copy what they are doing in their songs. Take a song and deconstruct it.  Take it apart and look at each element of the songs.  Figure out the songs form. Examine how the melody goes.  Look for contrasts in the song.  Once you deconstruct the song attempt to copy each element and make your own song using what you learned as a template for your own song.  This process will expand your skill and knowledge of songwriting exponentially.

Do Something Different or Unique

Writing songs in a genre we like is normal.  That is because we connect and like that style of music.  As a songwriter it will benefit you to listen to other genre of music.  As music evolves it take influences from many styles of music.  If you only listen to Country then all your songs will sound that way.  But if you listen to Rock, Jazz, or Pop those musical sounds will influence the way you write songs.  Taking elements from different genre and skillfully combining them will create new and fresh sounds.   As you do this you will develop your own unique artistic style.

Write Songs Everyday

To be better at any task you must do something everyday related to that task.  Work on your songwriting every day and you will find that it will become easier and more satisfying.   Make a commitment to yourself to dedicate at least 30 minutes to an hour a day to work specifically on songwriting.  Even when you don’t feel like doing it, motivate yourself to practice your songwriting skills.  Learn something every day about songwriting and apply what you learned to your songs.  The amazing thing is all these days will add up and one day you’ll look back at the amazing amount of material you created.

Enjoy What You Are Doing

If you are not having fun or not passionate about writing songs don’t torture yourself.   It is important that you love what you are doing. I know that some of the work needed for improvement can be tedious.  But always allow for some time to have fun with what you are doing.  One guideline for learning is to divide your time.  Allow at least 60% of your time engaged in fun activities related to songwriting. The other 40% devote you rigorous practice.  This ratio of fun verses work will help drive your desire to continue writing songs.  It will balance out your time and avoid burnout. After all it is important to love what we do.

Now that you learned about these five ways to improve your songwriting it is time to get started.  To recap these five ways are learn music theory, learn from the pros, go outside the box, write songs everyday and finally make sure you have fun.  If you are new to songwriting these tips may seem overwhelming.  Here is some sage advice. Don’t concern yourself with having every step down pat just start writing songs. That’s correct start where you are at right now.  Every journey starts with the first step. As you apply each of these ideas into your songwriting routine, you should find that over time you will get better. As you get better your songs will get better.

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    Study the vocals, chord changes, melodies, and layers, all of it. You will never catch an A&R rep’s attention because you sound completely different. It will be because you sound familiar, only slightly different. For example, the band Five for Fighting’s vocals sounds like a different shade of Dave Matthews’. They sold 500,000 albums. Pete Yorn’s voice sounds like a different shade of Eddie Vedder’s. Coldplay is a different shade of Radiohead. Get over the idea of ‘selling out.’ If you want them to sell, make sure your oranges are orange because as we said, no one buys blue ones.