Learn songwriting from Nashville Artists
Songwriting is a process. Everybody can learn how to write songs, and engaging in songwriting lessons with professional songwriters and artists is a great way to gain insights and skills into the process.
At Green Hills Guitar Studio, we have experienced, professional songwriters to provide feedback and nurture your songwriting and musical growth. Whether you are new to songwriting or you have been writing for years and just need a sounding board or spark, we are here to help your way into the process. Being a pro doesn’t mean you don’t help or support. We all have self doubts, feel unmotivated and can get lost in the tall grass. Here is an inspiring tale from Ray Lamontagne regarding a songwriting lesson he got from Elvis Costello:
“I had a batch of songs that wasn’t calling at me strongly enough,” LaMontagne relates. “It was all good stuff. I felt like everything had potential. There were good melodies. But they weren’t calling for my attention that strongly, so I just kept putting them down and not finishing them.” This, not surprisingly, was troubling, so LaMontagne reached out to Elvis Costello, a friend and personal hero, for some counsel.
“He sent me back a really lovely letter that said, ‘There have been times I’ve felt the same way, too,’ and he just sort of said, ‘You’re the only Ray LaMontagne there is, so just trust that voice,’ and that was really enough.” LaMontagne followed that by digging into Costello’s music — specifically his second album, THIS YEAR’S MODEL — for a crash course in what his mentor was talking about. “That record is just unapologetic. It’s so…Elvis, y’know. He’s just so unapologetically himself, and there was something about that that really struck me, and it was like a light bulb came on, like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s it! You’ve just got to be yourself.’
“I think that was sort of a turning point. I just kind of turned off the inner critic and got out of my own way and started making music.” You can read the full piece here.
Areas of Study
- Melodic study and writing
- Accompaniment skills
- Live performance & recording studio preparation and coaching
- Harmony, chord function and chord progressions
- Lyric study and writing
- Music theory and ear training
- Rhyme scheme
- Form/structure – how to define sections and set up the chorus/hook
- Song analysis and study
- Song arrangement
- Performance and recording preparation and techniques
- Finding and developing YOUR voice as a songwriter
- Charting songs and the Nashville Number System
- The art of co-writing
- Who are you writing for? – defining and embracing YOUR goals and aspirations
- Creativity, and the whole bag
- The critic and the judge (those voices in our heads, we all have ’em!)
- Seeing the choices and options within an idea
- Living as a songwriter – publishing, recording, performing, touring
- Staying “in the process”- how to get out of being stuck, and how to FINISH songs
Begin writing your songs TODAY! Finish those ideas that have been lingering around like ghosts, improve your existing songs, or start that new project and take off in a new direction.
All you need to know is in the music that you love.
– Bob Dylan
This Dylan quote describes a great way of looking at the songwriting process. What type of music resonates with you? What frightens and intimidates so many people, even more than learning to play guitar, is suggesting to someone that they COULD actually write a song. It is magical, but it isn’t magic.
The Dylan quote signifies the enormity and the simplicity of songwriting. It is also comforting because it is about exploring the music you already love. And importantly, that there is a process. Study the music you love and that will help you find your own songwriting voice.
Having a teacher or mentor who helps you understand all of the components of a song or piece of music is really key to this process. The process is not always the same or linear from project to project. But if you learn the tools and skills to work the spark of an idea when it appears, you can mold that idea into a song. These tools will also give you insight into how to go hunting for an idea.