Anyone Can Write Songs



Songwriting is a skill that can be learned by anyone who can read and write. So, if you made it through third grade you can learn to write songs. In my 25 years of teaching, ALL of my students who wanted to write songs, did learn to write songs, when they studied the information in this book, and did the recommended exercises. If you have no idea how to write songs right now, don't worry. I started off just like you. I had a desire to write songs but had never written one. My first few songs were pretty raw, and I would be embarrassed to have you hear them now. But over the years, I developed my writing to the point of getting my songs and jingles on TV and radio. I was not gifted with extraordinary talents. I just studied and kept writing. The more I wrote, the better my songs became. If I can do that, so can you. If you're just starting out as a songwriter, your first few songs will be rough. That's normal! It doesn't mean you're a bad songwriter. It just means you're a beginning songwriter. If you stick with it, you'll get better. So start writing and keep writing.

The first step in learning to write songs is to understand how songs are put together. Once you understand this, writing will be easier and you'll write better songs. Most hit songs use the same formula Over the past 50 years, most hit songs have been structured in about the same way. In other words, they all follow some sort of "industry standard." They're about 3-4 minutes long. They all have Verses, Choruses, and sometimes Bridges. As I explain the way songs are put together, keep in mind that there are rare songs that don't precisely follow the patterns I describe. My goal is to give you an understanding of successful songs, so you can blaze your own trails, and still stay within industry standards if that's your desire. The advantage of following the industry standards, is that if you want to get your songs on the radio, or you want to sell your songs, you need to follow the industry format. Also, I've found that writing songs in this way makes it easier for audiences to listen when you perform live. What makes up a song? In order to write a song, you need to understand the ingredients that make up a song. If you want to bake an apple pie, you need ingredients:

Melody: The melody is what you sing or hum. If you hum "Mary Had a Little Lamb. Background Music: The background music is what the musicians in the band are playing." To write a song you need "song SONG INGREDIENTS Songs are made up of three basic ingredients: lyrics. The background music can be created by hired musicians. sugar. ingredients. They are arranged in sentences that contain meter (a beat) and rhyme. etc. Most hits become hits because of the power of the lyrics and melody. shortening. melody and background music. 3. 2. The background music supports and blends with the melody and lyrics. paint a picture.apples. the lyrics and melody are the most important. you are singing the lyrics. flour. The background music isn't as important or difficult to create. Lyrics: The lyrics are simply the words of the song. No amount of money however can force a songwriter to create great lyrics and melody. and express emotion." you are humming the melody. When you sing the words of the song. Lyrics and melody come first Of these three ingredients. 1. It is a series of notes strung together. with the melody. They tell a story. Where do you start? . That has to come through work and inspiration.

. I will explain later how you can create the background music. I estimate he earns well over $100. You don't need to be able to write music in order to be a successful songwriter.000 per year just writing lyrics. If you're interested in writing music I'll explain how to get started. or lyrics with melody. You'd probably recognize some of the songs he's written. He is good. Does writing just lyrics really make me a songwriter? Yes! I know one of the top songwriters in California and all he does is write lyrics. later on. your job. So. A good lyricist is extremely valuable in today's music industry.I recommend that as a beginning songwriter you start by writing lyrics or lyrics with melody. should you choose to accept it is to learn to write lyrics. You do need to write lyrics or lyrics and melody.

2 SONG PARTS AND ARRANGEMENTS When you take your lyrics. and put them together. it's important to understand what the different song parts are. the song part that usually appears first in a song is the introduction. This is where the singer starts singing. Get it? Go listen to a couple of songs now. This song can be broken up into song parts. The next song part is generally the verse. Pre-Chorus (PC) 4. Chorus (C) 5. It is music with no vocals. melody and background music. It sets the mood and introduces you to the song. Introduction (I) 2. Bridge (B) . Verse (V) 3. There are only seven possible song parts that can be used to build a song. you have a song. They are: SONG PARTS 1. For example. Since song parts are the building blocks of songs. After the verse you'll usually find a chorus.

now. now. All I want. is all of you. Melt your body to mine. Pre-chorus We danced like we were flying. I fell in love with you that day. I walked to you and took your hand. beneath the moon. Melt your body to mine. Made a mystical connection. Chorus Dance with me. Verse two I saw you riding on a wave. All I want. is all of you. Ran like we were free. beneath the moon. Chorus Dance with me. A picture of supreme perfection.6. My sweet Valentine. now. Blonde hair rolling on your shoulder. now. Pre-chorus We danced like we were flying. Solo (S) Here is an example of a real song. Ran like we were free. and how the different parts come together: My Valentine copyright 2007 John Ford Verse one I saw you standing by the band. . Beauty always makes me bolder.

and you'll hear the intro. you gave me a smile. 1. so you can tell a verse from a chorus. 2. You could have a song that went: Verse--Chorus--Verse-Chorus--Bridge--Chorus. Some songs go straight from the verse into the chorus. Melt your body to mine. at the very beginning of the song. My sweet Valentine. Chorus Dance with me. A song has anywhere from two to four verses. On rare occasions a song will start with a chorus. now. The verses tell the story and paintS a picture. +3. Introduction: The introduction (often called the intro) is the music. All I want. You light me up so easily With your fire. or it could go: Verse--Pre-Chorus--Chorus-Verse--Pre-Chorus--Chorus--Bridge--Pre-Chorus--Chorus.My sweet Valentine Bridge Today.. The melody and background music are the same from verse to verse. With your fire. Verse: The verse is usually where the singer begins singing. but the lyrics are different in each verse. Pre-Chorus: Pre-Choruses are optional. beneath the moon. Start any song at the beginning.. but 95% of the hits over the last 50 years start with singing on the first verse. is all of you. and others use a pre-chorus to get into the chorus. It sets the mood and helps you recognize the song. now. Identifying song parts Let's help you understand song parts. It's pretty easy.. You probably already know more than you think. usually without vocals. Either option is .

4. About 95% of today's songs are Verse/Chorus songs. The hardest place to keep your listener interested is in the second half. Each type of bridge has a different purpose and design. Type "A" Bridges. both lyrically and musically. and the lyrics. and Verse/Bridge songs which contain the title or hook in each verse. the pre-chorus can use medium notes to help you make a smooth melodic transition from the verse to the chorus. hearing another verse could be very boring. which is often repeated two or more times within the chorus. Note: The two types of songs that exist today are Verse/Chorus songs which contain the title or hook in each chorus. Bridge: There are two types of bridges. It contains the title or the hook of the song. A chorus occurs at least three times in a song. if your verse is comprised of mostly low notes. The pre-chorus can also help you make a smooth lyrical transition from your verse to your chorus. Chorus: The chorus is usually the most exciting part of the song. melody and the background music are the same in each chorus except in an outro chorus where the entire chorus is modified to make it more interesting. The most common type of bridge is used in Verse/Chorus songs.fine. For example. By the time you get to the second half of a Verse/ Chorus song. The hook or title is the most memorable phrase of the song. The other type of bridge is used in Verse/Bridge songs. A bridge is a brand new part. and is not at all like a verse or a . +5. They have already heard verses and choruses and probably don't want to hear them again. (used in Verse/Chorus songs): The purpose of Bridges in Verse/Chorus songs is to give the listener something new in the second half of the song. and your chorus is mostly high notes. That's why bridges are written.

+ Here's an example of the way song parts come together: Intro -Verse -Chorus -Verse -Chorus -Bridge -Chorus -Outro The song starts at the intro. so hang in there! You might need to read this section a few times. Note: Not all songs use all of these song parts. so the band and singer change the last chorus. and ends after the outro. Outro: An outro is usually a chorus where the singer and the band improvise. Bridges are put in between verses so the song doesn't go verse. It contains new lyrics. + Maybe Example now (used in Verse/Bridge songs): Verse/ Bridge songs have no choruses. and the guitar player. designed to keep your listener interested. I know this seems confusing. verse. but the bridge doesn't contain the title. It's still a chorus. The purpose of a bridge in a Verse/Bridge song is to break up the Verses. sax player. Some songs don't have pre-choruses. The bridge acts like a chorus in that all bridges are the same lyrically and melodically. Again. It will become clearer to you when you see the examples of the two types of songs later on in this book. It's an exciting new part. 7. and provides a smooth transition between the verse and chorus (or solo). the Verses do. it just gets changed around to make it more interesting. Verse/Bridge songs have the title in each verse. bridges or solos. . verse without a break. or any other musician takes a solo. Outros are a lot of fun. Solo: This is where the singer stops singing. The listener doesn't want to hear the same old chorus.chorus. music and melody. It is confusing. it's a way to break up the song. 6.


SONG ARRANGEMENTS Song parts can be put together or arranged in different ways. The most common song arrangements are: Verse/Chorus Songs: Arrangement #1: I-V-C-V-C-B-C-O Intro Verse Chorus Verse Chorus Bridge Chorus Outro .

Arrangement #2: I-V-V-C-V-C-B-C-O Intro Verse Verse Chorus Verse Chorus Bridge Chorus Outro .

Arrangement #3: I-V-PC-C-V-PC-C-B-C-O Intro Verse Pre-Chorus Chorus Verse Pre-Chorus Chorus Bridge Chorus Outro .

Arrangement #4: I-V-PC-C-V-PC-C-S-C-O Intro Verse Pre-Chorus Chorus Verse Pre-Chorus Chorus Solo Chorus Outro .

Arrangement #5: I-V-C-V-C-S-C-O Intro Verse Chorus Verse Chorus Solo Chorus Outro .

Arrangement #6: I-V-V-C-V-C-B-V-C-O Intro Verse Verse Chorus Verse Chorus Bridge Verse Chorus Outro .

the arrangements will more or less work themselves out. Don't worry about understanding them all now.These different arrangements are just options you have when finishing your song. As you become a more experienced songwriter. Arrangement #7: I-V-V-B-V-O Intro Verse Verse Bridge Verse Outro . Here are some examples of how Verse/Bridge songs are put together. there are two types of songs. and Verse/Bridge songs. Verse/Chorus songs. Verse/Bridge Songs (much less common): Remember. just try to get a general picture.

Arrangement #8: I-V-B-V-B-V-O Intro Verse Bridge Verse Bridge Verse Outro .

“I'm as free as the wind. He had nowhere to go. Verse two By the side of the road sat a man his head hung low. She talked with him for a while. Write down their arrangements. . so whatever arrangement does that job is the right arrangement. I'm using songs that I have written. Turn on the radio. a burning fire. Also. Experiment with different arrangements. Here are some examples of actual songs with different arrangements. A moonlight lover. I saw him smile. Hurricane Jane. See if you can figure out where each of the song parts are and how they follow each other. Bridge She's a wild one. follow the lyrics. or go to i-Tunes right now and listen to three songs. you won't be so baffled by the various arrangements. Hurricane Jane. He lost his job. but once you understand the different song parts. it is very difficult to use other people's songs. Make some up! Your goal is to keep your audience interested. She had a smile that whispered. Example 1: Here is an example of a verse/bridge song that follows arrangement number 7: Hurricane Jane copyright 2007 John Ford Verse one She walked into town with a rose in her hand.These arrangements might seem confusing at first. As you listen to the songs. A little later on. because for copyright reasons.” Every now and then on this earth God puts beauty first. print out the lyrics of some of your favorite songs. It will help you make sense of what we've been talking about.

You don't see the outro in this song because it is mostly musical. “Hey there baby. a man pulled out a gun. .” appears at the end of every verse. we're going to have us some fun!” But faster than the blink of an eye. If you heard the song. and his hands held high. This is how verse/bridge songs are constructed. He said. “Hurricane Jane. She had his gun.She's a dancer in the rain Hurricane Jane Verse three On her way back home. Notice that the title of the song. Hurricane Jane. you would hear the outro.

All I want. Melt your body to mine. I fell in love with you that day. My sweet Valentine. Blonde hair rolling on your shoulder. Beauty always makes me bolder. Ran like we were free. Ran like we were free.Example 2: Here's an example of arrangement #3: My Valentine copyright 2007 John Ford Verse one I saw you standing by the band. Chorus Dance with me. beneath the moon. You light me up so easily . Chorus Dance with me. you gave me a smile. now. beneath the moon. is all of you. Made a mystical connection. I walked to you and took your hand. A picture of supreme perfection. now. My sweet Valentine Bridge Today. now. now. Pre-chorus We danced like we were flying. Verse two I saw you riding on a wave. is all of you. Pre-chorus We danced like we were flying. All I want. Melt your body to mine.

My sweet Valentine. She can dream in colors I can't see. Shakes away any glimpse of reason Wakes the madness in this Gringo town. She reaches out and rearranges me. Here's an example of a song that follows arrangement number 2: Miracle Baby. Verse one She gives me something I can believe in.. Chorus Dance with me. With your fire. now. Verse two Don't know if she's an angel or a devil. And I'm as willing as a ship of fools. Chorus She's a miracle baby. Like a river. she finds her own way. Shoots a fire through the center of my house. Verse three Give her anything and she's in heaven. Chorus .. she takes A piece of my heart. All I want. And when I trap myself in my own prison. now. Copyright 2002 John Ford. beneath the moon. When she smiles. But I know I want to like that fuse.. is all of you.With your fire. Melt your body to mine. She's a cross between innocence and trouble.

she finds her own way. When she smiles. She's a thunder and lightning show.She's a miracle baby. When she smiles. Print out the lyrics and identify each song part. Understanding song parts is the first step in being able to write songs. With practice. A locomotion machine. Assignment: Listen to ten hit songs. . you're still learning. You'll be surprised at how much you'll be able to figure out. Spend some time listening and studying. you'll get real good at identifying song parts. Like a river. that's normal. Chorus She's a miracle baby. You can google the lyrics. Bridge. she finds her own way. It's hard to believe something as pure as this Could ever come from me. Like a river. Remember. try to figure out what each part is. If you get lost a few times. she takes A piece of my heart. When you're listening to your car radio. and then figure out which arrangement the song follows. she takes A piece of my heart.

As you analyze hit songs you will see a wide variance in approaches. There are 6 Lyrical Principles that you will need to learn and apply to your lyric writing. and if you don't know the standard.3 THE 6 LYRICAL PRINCIPLES Lyrics are used in five of the seven song parts: verses. you'll have a hard time breaking in. bridges and lyrical outros are optional. because you may eventually be trying to market your songs to the industry. pre-choruses. bridges and usually the outro. . since pre-choruses. A simple song will only need lyrics for verses and choruses. but you will see certain things that most songs have in common. These commonalties are explained by the 6 Lyrical Principles. If you're not interested in selling your songs. Following these principles will make your songs better and help keep your songs within "industry standards. The 6 Lyrical Principles will help you write songs that will give you and your audience greater satisfaction. choruses." This is important.

usually it's cliched. but “cliched” rhymes are trouble. and needs to be rewritten. No rhyme: day and wish 4. Here are some examples of different ways to rhyme: 1.LYRICAL PRINCIPLE 1 Lyrical Principle 1: “Literal” rhymes are fine. Literal rhyme: day and pay 2. Cliched rhyme: love and dove (it's too obvious and corny) Rhyming works best when it feels and sounds natural. “false “rhymes are great. If it feels corny when you read it to your friends. . You will have to be the judge about what's literal and what's cliched. If it feels forced or too obvious it may be cliched. Most lyrics today are based on some sort of rhyme. “no” rhymes can work. False rhyme: love and up (they both have the "UH" sound) 3.

But. If I can show you who I am. I shake and tremble 'til I fall. You'll feel love and you'll touch sin. . We see that the last word in lines 3 and 4 of each verse rhyme: smile and awhile in verse 1. now.LYRICAL PRINCIPLE 2 Lyrical Principle 2: The rhyming scheme in the first verse should be followed in all verses. VERSE: I used to be afraid to cry. it's been awhile VERSE: If I go out with you today. In the song below we see that the last word in lines 1 and 2 of each verse rhyme: here and fear in verse 1. In general it's best to keep the rhyming schemes consistent. am and sin in verse 2. I break my wall. I might not have a thing to say. my tears I cannot hide. (The rhyming of am and sin is a good example of a false rhyme.) EXAMPLE: VERSE: I'm feeling lonely sitting here Playing chess with my fear A steady job might make me smile But I don't know. today and say in verse 2. And when I break.

When I hear God. if you can get away with it. It's up to you how you rhyme. “Let go. . you didn't get away with it. It's okay to be a little bit loose with this principle. stick with it in the following verses. And you'll find life ain't that cold/” In the above song I rhymed lines 1 and 2 with each other and lines 3 and 4 with each other. That's just one way to do it. But once you set up up a rhyming scheme in your first verse.VERSE: I take my life too serious With made up rules that I can't trust. If you or your audience cringe when you come to the loose part. In your songs you could rhyme lines 1 and 3 and have no other rhyme. he says.

If line 1 in verse 1 has 4 syllables (as is the case in the song below). 3. Consistency keeps the song memorable and gives the listener something he can grasp on to. (9 syllables) I'll give you hope. (10 syllables) VERSE 2: I'll give you strength. I'll pull you up. The melody in line 1 of verse 1 is the same as the melody in line 1 of verse 2. (10 syllables) And if you call. (4 syllables) When you're feeling down. Line 1 in verse 2 could have 5 syllables and still work. you'd have a hard time staying within the original melody. but if it got up to 7 syllables. There's no room to add or subtract a lot of syllables without changing the melody. (4 syllables) I'll stand beside you each and every day. then line 1 in verse 2 should have around 4 syllables. (4 syllables) I'll talk with you and wipe your tears away. Notice how line 2 of verse 1 has 9 syllables and line 2 of verse 2 has 10 syllables. and 4 of each verse. VERSE 1: I'll give you love. (4 syllables) I'll shoot a ray of light right through your soul.LYRICAL PRINCIPLE 3 Lyrical Principle 3: Keep the number of syllables per line fairly consistent from verse to verse. (10 syllables) . and changing the melody from verse to verse is not really an option. The same thing goes for lines. 2. Keeping the melody the same from verse to verse gives the song consistency.

Then compare the verses with each other and you'll see they are fairly consistent.Assignment: Write out the lyrics of 3 radio songs and count and write down the syllables of each line in each verse. .

Be sure all the parts of your song are focused towards your big message. you're in trouble. You only have so many words to tell the story. It gives me chills to touch her and watch her body run. If your verses are about being in love and your choruses are about hunting polar bears in the Yukon. (unless you're in love with a polar bear. Chorus Every time I hold her.) The key here. I have found my fortune in this love Verse two She can see. and don't try to judge what is good or bad in the moment. . Good lyrics tell a story and communicate a message. that arose from the creative process: My Fortune Copyright 2007 John Ford Verse one I find her in the candlelight amber like the sun. so you can't afford to waste words. Here is an example of a love song. She flies like a raven over the summer lava flow. all I am and all I shouldn't be. before she takes me home. Wraps me in electric light. You can sort that out later. She keeps my eyes clear and bright and sets my body free. Let all your ideas come out. is to let the creative process flow.LYRICAL PRINCIPLE 4 Lyrical Principle 4: Write honest and bold lyrics. She heats me in her golden fire and coats my every bone. My body feels like sunshine in a storm. write them down.

Bridge She can like the darkest sky. Great lyrics express real life. Tell your story as it really is. and you'll write junk with that approach. General. and you do not want your critical mind to become involved. but at this stage. Tell the truth. I have found my fortune in this love. Be bold and be honest. do not edit! Let me say it again: do not edit! Editing is important later on. . You want your lyrics to be as interesting as a short story. I have found my fortune in this love Do you see what I mean? Get into your life and let us know you. My body feels like sunshine in a storm. Many find it helpful to brainstorm and get all their ideas on paper. My body feels like sunshine in a storm. generic. She can make my melodies fly. The truth is powerful! Don't try to write what you think the audience wants to hear. Chorus Every time I hold her. You can't figure out what they want. without any lyrical structure or rhyme. You are generating ideas. When you are writing or brainstorming. Chorus Every time I hold her.And dances like an angel on Serengeti snow. Tell exciting and captivating stories. so they hold your audience's attention as a great story would. Take chances and paint bright pictures. cliched lyrics won't make it. Once you have the story you can work it into a good song structure.

If some of your lines are hard to read and feel awkward when you're reading them.LYRICAL PRINCIPLE 5 Lyrical Principle 5: Be sure your lyrics are easy to speak. Don't expect the cringe to disappear later on. . it's a good idea to be aware of the “cringe factor. they may need to be rewritten. It won't.” If you cringe when you are reading your lyrics to yourself or someone else. you need to rewrite that part. Try reading your lyrics out loud to yourself. and to a friend. they'll usually sing well! Throughout the songwriting process. If they speak well.

Go listen on iTunes. For example in the previous songs the titles are the same as the hooks: My Valentine. when you go to write a song. but with practice you will become successful at writing good hooks. More and more songwriters today are writing like this where the lyrical phrase that the audience remembers (the hook) is different than the title. pick a one that inspires you. Spend part of your writing time coming up with titles and hooks. that will be memorable for your audience. By the way. the lead singer and guitar player from that band were both students of mine. This can be frustrating. Hurricane Jane. A common predicament for songwriters. . although occasionally they have more than five words. and Miracle Baby. A good title or hook is a strong statement made in five words or less. Usually the title and hook are the same. Then. The title or hook of the song is the lyrical phrase that the audience remembers. is to have a pretty good song with out an obvious title or hook. Keep a separate page in your songwriting notebook dedicated to titles and hooks. When you find yourself in this situation. What's important is to have some sort of lyrical phrase that the audience can sing along with and remember.LYRICAL PRINCIPLE 6 Lyrical Principle 6: Write a strong title or hook. you will need to come up with some kind of title or hook. An example of a song where the title and the hook are different is 4Non-Blondes What's Up where the title is What's Up and the hook which is repeated throughout the song is What's Going On.

You'll get a better understanding by seeing how the rules apply to real life songs. Lyrical Principle 4: Write honest and bold lyrics. Just keep writing and in time you'll find yourself applying the principles automatically. Lyrical Principle 2: The rhyming scheme in the first verse should be followed in all verses. false rhymes are great. Do the same with the lyrics in this book (and with your lyrics if you've written any yet). as well as how great writers break the rules and create even better art. . Here's a recap of the 6 LYRICAL PRINCIPLES: Lyrical Principle 1: Literal rhymes are fine. Lyrical Principle 5: Be sure your lyrics are easy to speak. Assignment: Go online and print out some lyrics from your favorite songs. Check out the lyrical principles and see how they apply to these songs. but cliched rhymes are trouble. Don't expect to get them all at once.Learning to apply The 6 Lyrical Principles It will take time and practice to learn The 6 Lyrical Principles. no rhymes can work. Lyrical Principle 3: Keep the number of syllables per line fairly consistent from verse to verse.

Lyrical Principle 6: Write a strong title or hook. .

the weakest links in my songs were turned into great parts. just be sure to write whether you feel like it or not. look at it as an opportunity to develop a great line. I try to make it fun by looking for ideas that are fresh and exciting. rather than just trying to get by with finishing the song. keeping in mind what you've learned. I divide my writing into two categories: 1. Write junk. try to look at all the rewriting you were doing as a way to make your song exciting and great. This part of the process is work! I take my unfinished ideas and apply the Lyrical Principles to them. If you write only when you're inspired. 2. Writing from inspiration. When you're trying to finish a song. Many times. If you have a weak line. fun. I suggest you set aside an hour or two a day and just write. My goal is to finish the song and make it the best that it can be. I might spend two hours coming up with just one line. because I took the opportunity to . you may spend most of your time waiting to be inspired. This is where it is easy. This is a good time to get bold and take chances. Rewriting.4 WRITING YOUR OWN LYRICS Now it's time for you to start writing your own lyrics. and I feel like a genius. write great stuff. Stuff just flows out of me. Writing from inspiration will be a part of your process but not the only part.

Songwriting tips 1. If writing becomes painful. Pen and paper: Keep a pad and pen with you at all times. Sometimes they are productive and sometimes they aren't. schedule time in your calendar. Scheduling time for writing The professional songwriters I know write for about four to six hours a day. you need to spend a lot of time writing. If "waiting till you feel like it" isn't getting the job done. I never want to lose the joy and fun of writing even when it's work. Songwriting team . and every songwriter needs one. I write about the pain. 2. You never know when ideas will come and if you don't get them recorded you may lose them forever. Go towards the songs you feel like working on. They show up to write. and editing with them is a breeze. Write whenever you get an idea. I keep one by my bed because I get ideas when I wake up in the morning. If you want to succeed as a songwriter. rather than just trying to finish the song any old way. do the work. and then show up. and you'll see results. Put in the time. 3. They are so easy to use. There are about $50. whether they feel like it or bold and work for greatness. five days a week. Digital micro recorder I absolutely love these little devices. Have fun When I sit down to write I generally gravitate toward what I feel like writing.

This is because some people are good at lyrics but have trouble with music. Make the time and pick up that pen. Writing with other people has its advantages and disadvantages. Turn on that digital micro recorder. and keep writing. and when I get stuck. write. It is the practice of writing that will turn you into a great songwriter. they can generally come up with something I really like. Overall.One of the best ways to improve your writing is to receive regular feedback from supportive peers. and the process is usually easier and more fun. The feedback will make your songs better. What I don't like about writing with other people is that they say things differently than I would say them. write! The most important thing you can do to improve your songwriting is to start writing. 4. You'll make progress you couldn't make alone. . and get together with them once or twice a month. The deadlines will help you finish your songs. because you'll receive feedback and you'll have deadlines. Try writing with a few people and see how you like it. Collaborating with other songwriters If you look on CDs or sheet music you will find that most songs are written by more than one person. Write. Sometimes what they write is better than what I had in mind. I really like collaboration because I write more songs. Some writers do write both music and lyrics. What I like about collaboration is that I have another person to bounce my ideas off of. but sometimes it leaves me feeling frustrated because I wanted to say something different. Put together a team of 2-6 songwriters.

You just wrote and sang a melody! Now you can no longer say "I just can't write a melody." You can and you did! With time you'll learn to write more complex melodies. your song is practically finished.5 CREATING MELODIES FOR YOUR LYRICS The next step is to create melodies for your lyrics. What is a melody? Now don't freak out! Many people find that writing melodies is easier than writing lyrics. but many of the greatest songs ever written have very simple melodies. a melody is two or more notes sung or played by a musical instrument. As a beginner your melodies will probably be pretty simple." Sing it anyway you like. I'll start by explaining the concepts of melody writing. I want you to write a melody. There is no right or wrong way. Change the notes or keep them the same. All I want you to do is to sing "la-----la-----la-----la-----la-----la. When you have lyrics with melody. . Technically. Sound scary? Well it's easier than you think. right now. I'll explain more about that later. All you need to do is hire somebody to create the background music. If you can sing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" you can write melodies.

Writing melodies for your lyrics Let's write a melody for some of your lyrics. always paying attention to what feels good. Choose the lyrics from one of your verses or choruses. Your song will come alive. When you listen to your newly written melody. there is no right or wrong here. When you find something you like. moving from line to line. because without music behind it. Now sing the first line and start experimenting with different melodies for the second line. turn on your tape recorder and save it. Be sure to record your finished product. Just experiment with different ways of singing. Remember. Don't lose heart. it's easy to get discouraged. Keep going in this manner. until you've finished the verse or chorus. Start with the first line and sing it. When you find a melody that feels good. your song may not sound too glamorous. When you record your song with music. record it. Most of the greatest songs in the world would sound pretty raw without music behind them. you'll be pleasantly surprised. . We're going to start slow and make it real easy.

6 THE 3 MELODIC PRINCIPLES Now that you've played around with writing melodies. Here are the 3 Melodic Principles. lets refine them a little bit with the 3 Melodic Principles. These principles will help you to understand and write better melodies. .

The idea of the melodic graph is to give you an idea about how melodies change throughout songs. Listen to some songs on the radio and notice how they provide melodic contrast. the song would just drag on and on with mostly low notes. When the melody gets higher your line will go higher. your chorus should have some high notes to give a feeling of release and excitement. If your verse has lots of low notes and feels suspenseful. The idea is for you to start to get a better understanding of how professional writers work with melodies. There would be no contrast or drama. When the song has a low melody. The singer would never get a chance to stretch out and belt. you will be drawing a line at lower in the graph. . Assignment: Pick three songs on the radio and draw melodic graphs. medium and high notes throughout your songs. The song would be boring. Melodic contrast keeps your songs interesting by interspersing low. They don't have to be perfectly accurate. If you were to have a verse with mostly low notes and then were to follow with a chorus that had mostly low notes. Your graph doesn't have to be particularly detailed.MELODIC PRINCIPLE 1 MELODIC PRINCIPLE 1: Provide melodic contrast.

when blended with the peak of the melody. you don't want to land on a word like "the" or "but. Listened to some songs and you will see what I mean." These powerful words." You do want powerful. easy to sing words at the peak of a melody. Melodies generally build to a high note or peak. Remember. easy to sing words like "free" or "fight.MELODIC PRINCIPLE 2 Melodic Principle 2: Put powerful. When you get to that high note. will add drama and excitement to your song. . you always want to make the song fun for the singer to sing.

choruses and bridges to each have distinctive melodic feels and personalities. Listen to some songs.MELODIC PRINCIPLE 3 Melodic Principle 3. Many times a beginning songwriter will use a version of the "Mary Had a Little Lamb" melody for their chorus as well as their verse. it will be difficult to tell where the verse ends and the chorus begins." Your chorus needs to have a completely different melody. choruses and bridges different from each other. It's very easy. (but incorrect) to write songs in which the verse melody and chorus melody sound similar. choruses and bridges have very different melodies. Let's say your verse melody was the melody to "Mary Had a Little Lamb. . You want your verses. and notice how the verses. This doesn't work. Keep melodies in verses. If your melody in the verse is very similar to the melody in the chorus. It would also make for a boring song.

If you look for perfection you won't find it. Look at the progress you've made since you started. HERE'S A RECAP OF THE 3 MELODIC PRINCIPLES: MELODIC PRINCIPLE 1: Provide melodic contrast. . We are humans. listen to some of your favorite songs. Also. you will quit. The more you listen the more you will understand. Remember to look for progress. and humans go slow and make mistakes. choruses and bridges different from each other.Using the Melodic Principles for writing your melodies Now that you understand the principles for writing good melodies. If you expect perfection and don't find it. Don't be hard on yourself. Get out your tape recorder and start singing. listen for the parts that you like and change the parts you don't like. easy to sing words at the peak of a melody. and listen to how the melodic principles come into play. It's impossible. you won't make progress. as long as you keep writing. When you play back your ideas. Melodic Principle 2: Put powerful. not perfection! I can't tell you how important this is. Apply the 3 Melodic Principles. So remember. I want you to apply these principles to one of your songs. you'll get better. If you quit. Melodic Principle 3: Keep melodies in verses. Give yourself a pat on the back for being able to come up with any melody.

Taking chances Take chances when you're writing. Great poets depend on emotion because they have no music to spice things up. the possibilities are endless. When we can put emotion into our lyrics. the audience is affected when they hear those lyrics. you need to be writing emotionally! Writing from emotions The most powerful tool we have as songwriters is our emotions. They respond emotionally. When you've written a hit you can phone record company executives and they will talk to you. If you want to write hits. Say things in a bold new way. lifeless and boring. Hits make songwriters popular and rich. A hit is not something people respond to intellectually. Risk sharing your deep feelings. You will be able to give the audience something powerful and real if you adopt this attitude. If you write from your heart. .7 WRITING HITS Most songwriters want to write hits. If you're writing from your head. read on! What makes a hit? What is a hit? A hit is a song that a large number of people get excited about as soon as they hear it. In order for your audience to respond emotionally. your lyrics may be dry.

You cannot figure that out. You can clean it up later. you will fail at times. You will learn through these decisions. If you like it. The craft involves learning the technical principles of songwriting. keep it. Don't worry about getting it perfect. Blending art with craft Great songwriting is a combination of creative art and disciplined craft. With time. Emotion and creativity generates the art. change it. be descriptive. But what you can do is decide if you like it or not. you will keep getting better.When you're taking risks. . and as a result. become a better songwriter. But you'll be doing that even if you're playing it safe so you might as well risk!. When you're writing lyrics. They have been working at it for longer than you have. just get it out. That's it! If you keep on writing. You'll come up with ideas that don't work. you'll come to write great songs. Be patient The main difference between you and those who are earning a living as songwriters is time. If not. Paint powerful pictures with your words. You'll be experiencing both art and craft on your journey to becoming a songwriter Be sure you like what you write When you are listening to or reading what you wrote do not try to figure out whether other people will like it or not.

Recording your rough songwriter demo When you finish your first set of lyrics and have written a melody for them, it's time to create the music. If you write music yourself, you can skip this chapter. But if you're like many writers who don't write music, here's how to do it! You need to find a musician who is accomplished on her instrument and has a fundamental understanding of music theory. The best instruments are keyboards or guitar, with keyboards being the most desirable in my experience. All you need to do is sing your song for her or play the tape of your song for her, and she can write the music. It's no big deal for a good musician to do this. It's important for you to tell the musician what you want in terms of style. Is it a rock song or a country song? Is it slow or fast? If you hear something you don't like, tell her, and try to explain what you would like to hear. If you just sit back and provide no input, you may end up with something you don't really like. Once you and your musician agree on the music, it's time to record your rough songwriter demo. This can be as simple as turning on the tape recorder while she plays and you sing. If you want to be more elaborate, you can go into a professional recording studio. We'll go into that later.

For now it's important to get your song on tape. Making your song better through rewriting When you've recorded your song on tape you'll hear it in a whole new way. You'll be able to hear what you like and what you want to change. This is where rewriting comes in. Most songs are not finished the first time around. Many songs get rewritten up to a dozen times before completion. The rule for rewriting is simple: Keep what you like and rewrite the rest! This is where "the cringe factor" comes in. If some part of your song makes you cringe, you'll probably cringe every time you hear it. Change it to something you like. If your song gets boring you need to rewrite it. Beginners often create songs that are too long. Part of writing is throwing away some of what you have written. It's hard to do but if it makes a song better, it's a good thing to do. After you've improved your song, record it again. Do your changes make the song better? Do you need to do some more rewriting? If so, do it! Keep following this process until you hear your song in a way that totally pleases you. Now you can start to see that much work goes into creating a hit song, and why a hit song can earn a writer hundreds of thousands of dollars. Recording your professional songwriter demo Your rough songwriter demo is fine for writing purposes, but you eventually need to record a high quality demo so people can hear your song at its best. Since you're probably not experienced at producing and recording, I recommend you hire someone who is. Here's what you do: Most cities have recording studios listed in the yellow pages. You can also go online and get the names of some studios in your area. Just get on the phone and tell them that you're a songwriter who needs to have your

song recorded. You should be able to find a studio that can record your song for between $100 and $300, total. The factors to consider are: 1. Do I want a full band or just a keyboardist and singer? The band will be more expensive. 2. Do I want to sing the song myself? 3. How many final copies will I need? The studio will help you answer these and other questions. Don't be intimidated by the people at the studios. They want and need your business. They are working for you! Visit some studios and listen to songs those studios have produced. If you like what you hear, and like the people who operate the studio, give them a try. If not, visit some other studios. The process of recording your professional songwriting demo is similar to recording your rough songwriter demo, except now you'll be in a real recording studio with professional musicians. You'll be creating professional quality music for your song! Mail order demos If you live in an area where you can not find a good studio to record your songwriter demo, there is another option. Go to Google and type in “songwriter demos.” You'll find a wealth of information. These studios will take your rough songwriter demo, or just you singing the song a cappella, and create a professional quality demo. The advantage is that you can generally get a demo recorded fairly inexpensively. The disadvantage is that you were not there to oversee the project, and it may not be done the way you would have liked. You also won't get the advantage of being there and learning. But, if you have no other options, it is much better to record your song in this way, then not to record it at all. Who owns the song? This is actually pretty simple. If you paid anyone (such as the person who wrote the music or the recording studio), they don't own any part of it.

Sometimes studios record songs for writers "on spec. Most of the time it's better to pay the studio and keep full ownership of the songs. she was working more as a collaborator than as a hired gun and she owns part of the song (usually 50%). McCartney and Lennon did that with everything they wrote. It puts too much stress on the creative side of the relationship to try to figure out who did what and how much it's worth. I collaborate with many writers. I highly recommend 50/50 splits. and we split most songs 50/50. It all evens out over time. It was incredible. If someone offers you a deal like this you'll have to weigh it out. Now you'll be hooked as a songwriter! .If the musician who wrote the music didn't get paid. but they would end up owning part of the song. but it does happen. Whatever your agreement is. When you finish your first songwriter demo you'll be so happy! I remember hearing my first songs produced in a recording studio. they get the percentage of the money that you agreed upon. It's good to work this out in advance." This means the studio would let you record the song for free. When and if the song starts to earn money. get it in writing. Most studios don't do this.

The other advantage of keyboards is that you can basically play ten notes at a time.9 WRITING MUSIC YOURSELF So far we've talked about having someone else create the background music for your songs. acoustic guitars as well as piano. which makes for a very rich and diverse sound. It shakes my bones and makes me feel very expressive. But maybe you want to create the whole package. What I like about writing with acoustic guitar is that it is portable. organ and synthesizer. you need to play an instrument. People use electric guitars. The advantage of synthesizers is that I have access to thousands of sounds. Great sounds! This keeps me from getting bored and inspires different ideas. What's the best songwriting instrument? If you're going to write music. The two main instruments people write with today are guitar and keyboards. and millions of dollars are earned each year by songwriters who write just the melody and lyrics. Great! Here's how you do it. I write with keyboards and guitar and find advantages to both. I can take it wherever I go and write whenever I'm inspired. That's a very common way to write songs. I also love the sound of acoustic guitar. I like acoustic piano because it feels and sounds great. Whereas .

I think keyboards might be a slightly better writing tool than guitar. Step 1: Find a teacher and learn your instrument Before you can begin writing songs. the lessons and the things you are given to practice should be fun. Your current teacher should be able to help you with this. start taking lessons. With keyboards I can play alot more difficult and weird chords than I can with guitar. Also. In choosing a teacher. you'll need to understand some basic music theory. You won't need to understand how to conduct an orchestra. but if you like guitar better. Once your understand your instrument. Once you've chosen your instrument. but you will need to know the basics. The basics will be all you need to write great songs. Find a good teacher. Be sure to start with simple songs that you can master easily. If your teacher gets off on complex and wild theories. If at this point you play neither keyboards or guitar and are trying to choose between the two. look for someone whose playing you totally love. go for guitar. and practice 5 days per week for at least an hour a day. Step 3: Jam with yourself . tell them you just want the basics. If they're really good but their music doesn't really inspire you. This will give you confidence Step 2: Learn some music theory In order to write the music for songs. and this helps me write song I couldn't write on guitar. find another teacher. Start by playing other peoples songs. the theory part is very simple and can be learned in a few weeks. but if not look for another teacher. you need to learn to play your instrument. If you get a teacher who makes you feel like lessons and practice are drudgery.with guitar. you can only play six notes at a time. you'll eventually get bored with what they are teaching you. It will take about a year before you begin to get command of your instrument so be patient. go for whatever instrument you like the sound of. If they're not you'll quit playing.

sing and when you hear something you like. Playing an instrument will add a whole new dimension to your songwriting. The advantage of a digital micro recorder is that editing is very easy.Jamming is great fun! Just play your instrument. Or sometimes I'll just come up with a couple of verses and will have to write a chorus. take a couple of years and learn an instrument. The other advantage of learning an instrument is that you'll be able to accompany yourself and perform for friends. Sometimes satisfying and fun and sometimes it's frustrating hard work. Keep all your good ideas. at parties and in nightclubs. Often I'll come up with a verse and a chorus and I need to write another verse and a bridge. It's always different. record it. You'll be able to jam with other musicians and bands. Here's where rewriting comes in. Step 4: Harvest and rewrite Listen to your "idea tapes" and take your favorite ideas and see what's missing. Later on when you want to do some serious writing you'll have a tape full of ideas from which to harvest. If you think you'll be writing for the rest of your life. You'll have so more fun than you could ever imagine! .

There's no point in sending demos to people who haven't got the power to get your song published. That's what they do! Here's how to get your tape to these people: First you need to buy a copy of "Songwriter's Market" published by Writer's Digest Books. Once you have this list. Any major bookstore will have it or be able to get it. Go through the book and make a list of people you feel are credible. send them each a copy of your demo along with a lyric sheet (your lyrics typed out) and a cover letter. When you get the book. look for record companies and publishers who have worked with bands. You need to have people in the industry hear it! Getting your songs heard is easier than you think. The cover letter doesn't need to say more than: .10 SELLING YOUR SONGS Getting your song heard Now it's time for the acid test. There are industry professionals who have the job of looking for and listening to songs written by unknown writers like yourself. artists and songwriters you have heard of and like. You have written and recorded a song you think might be a hit.

Sincerely. club or organization in your area. (There are other songwriter Association's throughout the world. I appreciate your time and consideration. Songwriting organizations If there is a songwriting group. Just go to Google.) Once a month West Coast Songwriters has Demo Derbies where representatives from the music industry. If you want to talk to the decision makers active in today's industry. This won't be easy but if you are persistent you will make contacts. Remember. Visiting music centers personally There are three cities in the United States where most of the music business is conducted. On a given night they will listen to over 50 songs all written like aspiring songwriters like yourself. They are Los Angeles. (publishers and record company people). The best approach to marketing your demo is to go to one or more of these centers and present your tape in person. If your songs are marketable. . join! I live in San Francisco and we have West Coast Songwriters. they need new songs. come and listen to members' songs.Dear Shannon. your name You'll be surprised at how many of your demos will be listened to. you'll be talking to people in these three cities. so it's to their advantage to listen to whatever comes in. No one wanted my songs. you will find success. New York. I have enclosed a song you may be interested in. My very first mailing was done in this way and was very encouraging. and Nashville. but they did listen to them and some replied with personal letters encouraging me to continue submitting songs to them.

They reps are looking for hits which will make money for them. In my opinion. they are legitimate and can be helpful. After the song finished the audience broke out in wild and garageband. If you look at the Demo Derbies as learning experiences. It's an intense experience to hear your song played and have it commented on. Go to Google and type in “getting demos heard”. It was so intense. The two that I am familiar with. our taxi. The publisher told us why he liked the song and why he was taking it back to Los Angeles with him. Finally one night at a Demo Derby.The industry reps. almost dreamlike. I was so high! I went home and couldn't sleep for hours. It was unreal. Usually they just listened to a verse and a chorus and then stopped the tape to tell why they didn't like the song. or . I was devastated. so I took what he said and went home and tried to use his comments as a way to improve my writing. That hurt! But I was committed to learning to write great songs. the publisher listened to my whole song. This was a first. If they like your song they will announce that to you and every other songwriter in the room. I'd thought I'd written one of the greatest songs in history and he rejected it. Other ways to get your songs heard There are now organizations that will help you get your songs heard for a fee. My experience with Demo Derbies Every time I had one of my songs played at a Demo Derby I felt like I would and all the other song writers sit in a room and listen to everyone's songs. you'll learn to write better songs and eventually have one of the industry reps "pick-up" one of your songs. You'll learn alot by hearing your song and comparing it to other peoples songs. There are others. At that moment I suspected I had a good song on my hands. If they don't like it they will announce that also. The first song I ever played at a Demo Derby was rejected by the publisher. I liken it to the first time I heard my band played on the radio.

you will eventually succeed. I find that I can be much more objective about one of my songs if I let it sit for a couple of days and then come back to it. however. and because of his help. I thought I was a songwriting genius.” Making your songs better What do you do if nobody wants your song? You need to objectively look at your song and see where it could be improved. . the areas that need work stick right out. If you keep going. If you live in an area where songwriting classes are held. But I learned. The rejection will hurt. You have to be open to feedback in order to succeed as a songwriter. The songs on the radio are succeeding. You need to see what the songs on the radio have that your's don't. they are experts with valuable information. In each class I would bring in songs that he would tear apart. I hate to tell you this but many of your songs will be turned down by the industry. Use them as models to study and compare your songs to. sign up! The first songwriting class I took helped me tremendously. When I first joined. When I hear it fresh.“getting songwriter demos heard. Ask your friends for their feedback. my songs were picked up by publishers and record companies. If they listen to the radio. My instructor didn't hold this view. but don't let it stop you.

so I recommend giving them a call. simply Google: "copyright form PA". John Ford. The best way to protect your song is to register a copyright with the Library of Congress. The people at the copyright office are very helpful. For example: © 2008. They will help you figure out what to do your first time. Read the instructions to determine which would be best for your situation. The copyright insignia establishes that you are the owner and creator of the song. These two forms are the most commonly used by songwriters. .” It's just a way of saving money. All CDs and lyric sheets should include the copyright insignia (©) with the year and the author's name as proof of the copyright. or "copyright form SR". You can get their phone number through Google.11 COPYRIGHTING YOUR SONGS How to copyright The copyright for a song is a like a patent for an invention. It costs $40 to register each song. I might put five songs on one form and call it something like “John Ford's 2008 songs. To obtain copyright forms. What I do sometimes is register several songs at the same time on the same form.

it will be difficult for any thief to claim ownership because you will have proof and they won't. If you need to go to court because someone tried to steal your song. they are responsible. It's okay to play songs for your friends before they are copyrighted. When you file through the Library of Congress. When should you copyright your song? I copyright my songs when I have finished my professional songwriter demo. I prefer to have the government storing my proof of copyright. You will receive a sealed. ." Simply take your tape and lyric sheet to the post office and send it to yourself via registered mail. so I register with the Library of Congress. but you don't want to be sending out CDs of unprotected songs."Poor man's copyright" Another way to protect your song is to do what is called a "poor man's copyright. dated and stamped package. and well worth the money. which you should then store in a safe place. I need to have it protected. this registered mail package will be your proof that you wrote the song on a certain date. Song theft is actually rare. If you register your songs as soon as you finish them. but copywriting is a relatively easy process. At this point the song is finished and since I am about to begin playing it for industry people. The only disadvantage of this method is that you are responsible for not losing the package.

If you continue writing even when it gets tough. Most students need at least a couple of years to develop their writing to a semi-professional or professional level. It does take time. Songwriting is a skill that anyone can learn. Writing with other songwriters and taking classes will speed up this process.12 KEEP ON WRITING In my 25 years of teaching I have observed that all students who had the desire to write were able to learn to write songs. The only way you will improve your writing is to keep on writing. I guarantee it! . You will get stuck and become frustrated. you will become a good songwriter.

13 ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS People who want milk should not seat themselves in the middle of a field in hopes that a cow will back up to them. Some students aren't able to write down their goals at all. The following three exercises will help you to reach your goals. I have them write out their goals and bring them to their first lesson." Put down what you really want to be doing. Elbert Hubbart Writer. Most things we want to do we can do. These exercises are as important as anything you will learn in this book. and include the date by which you expect to be accomplishing this goal. For example: "I have just signed my first publishing contract. It stirs up all kinds of emotions. be realistic. if we are . My students often remark how difficult this was to actually do. When I take on a new student. creative and brave person. Waiting to be discovered will not get you discovered. 1. Do something! Get started! Thinking about becoming a songwriter will not make you a songwriter. Their old self is being challenged by a new. early 1900s The most important thing you can do is to act. Write down your goal. This is happening on or by December 1 1998. Get a 3X5 card and write down your goal as an "I am" or "I have" statement.

My daily life became much more satisfying and enjoyable.." Say it out loud. In our culture it is totally acceptable to whine and talk about how inferior we are. Our friends usually just nod their heads and try to give us comfort. Keep doing this until you reach your goal. Feel the wonderful emotions you will be feeling. Make any statement you like as long as you start with "I am" or "I have. I instantly had more friends." and as long as it is a positive statement. but after awhile you'll begin to enjoy it. 3. how we keep getting bad breaks. get another 3X5 card and write out your goal again with a new date. once I began replacing my negative thoughts and statements with positive ones. my life improved dramatically. and these new friends were also positive people who I really enjoy. you are living your dream. doing what you want to be doing. successful songwriter whom audiences love. we will probably have them. Spend 15 minutes per day visualizing yourself having achieved your goal. etc. My experience with this exercise is that I usually reach my goals. However." You need to counteract that poison with a statement like "I am a powerful. .willing to put in the work. 2. See yourself in your car listening to one of your songs on the radio. This is a fun exercise because while visualizing. Find a quiet place and get comfortable. The exercise works like this: Let's say a thought pops into your head like "I could never be good enough to write professionally. Replace all negative statements and thoughts with positive ones. If the date arrives and you haven't achieved your goal. but not on the first projected date. Imagine yourself where you want to be. You may feel a bit uncomfortable the first few times you do this. If we expect negative results and events in our lives. I understand this because I have been the king of whiners for most of my life. The problem is that all of this negative talking and thinking is very destructive. It feels much better to verbalize your dream than to talk about how bad things are or will be.

When I quit my safe corporate job to pursue my real dreams. nurture it like a tiny flower. That sounds so simple it's boring.Remember. If you stomp on all your seedlings. and then try it. When I wrote my first book. When an idea comes up. You won't be able to figure out all the angles and outcomes before you start. through experience and lessons. you'll generally get what you expect. and shouting with joy. The hardest part for most of us is listening to the ideas." "I could never get the money. not because I thought I had to practice writing. But . I kept windsurfing because it was fun! If I hadn't loved it so much I would have quit. by listening to those quiet voices in our minds and hearts. waves crashing on the rocks behind me. jumping waves. so expect the best! If you can dream it. That taught me something: I can learn most anything. I had no idea how I would be earning a living after my savings ran out." "people won't like me. I wrote because I had a strong desire to write." etc. I wasn't very good. Someone told me that if I didn't start in my early twenties. and I believed them. racing along. if I find someone to teach me. The universe has an amazing way of solving problems for those who jump in with both feet. But here I was. or should produce a book. The first few times I tried windsurfing. I believe that if we figure out what we really want. I did it because I enjoyed writing the book. and not killing them with negative thoughts like: "I could never do that. I'm actually doing it! Eight years earlier. and then keep doing it. I realized: Hey. But there is one more element here. I had the same experience. I could never learn. the rest will take care of itself. I had a belief that I could never windsurf. So just start. you can do it! Last week as I was windsurfing under the Golden Gate Bridge. and eventually I got good. in my mid fourths. you'll have no garden." "I'm too old. and you will discover solutions at each turn of the road. but it was so much fun that I kept doing it.

"Good decisions. the older man replied. "Bad decisions are my greatest teachers. emotionally and financially. He owned houses. "Well how did you get experience?" He looked the younger man straight in the eye. he asked." The more mistakes the better Once there was a young man who desired success but had no idea how to achieve it. "How did you achieve your high level of success?" Being a man of few words." The younger man left the mansion somewhat dazed. we have to risk. The younger man grew to be . When he arrived at the man's mansion." This left the younger man totally confused. They hurt. We can rely on other peoples wisdom some of the time. He had a neighbor who lived up the hill who was very successful. "Experience. "How could you achieve so much by making bad decisions?" The older man replied with great enthusiasm.things always worked out. so he decided he'd pay him a visit and find out how he became so successful. boats." the older gentleman answered calmly. he was invited into the study. The young man began his questions. but relieved. Mistakes were great teachers. but if we are entering uncharted territory. Feeling somewhat frustrated. and I was forced to develop skills I would have never developed under the safe umbrella of "The Corporation. We aren't born with all the answers. One opportunity led to another. and he vowed to live life in a way where mistakes were frequent and were honored. paused for what seemed like an eternity and spoke these two simple and powerful words." "How did you learn to make good decisions?" the younger man asked. "Bad decisions. fall and learn. There's no other way! All great discoveries come from venturing into unexplored territory. You cannot achieve greatness by following someones' safe path. This young man wanted to be rich like him. Mistakes cause me to do things differently the next time. planes and corporations. He realized that all the effort he had been using to try to be perfect was in vain.

I was complaining about my latest mistakes and how bad I felt about making them." I felt relieved after our conversation. I am willing to do new and scary things. It was a hellish life and I avoided doing new things in which I was sure to make mistakes. However. Go for your dream and you'll find happiness and satisfaction! . It isn't easy breaking out of the safe lifestyle you have established. But you'll be happy! Most people choose comfort over happiness." I feel light and successful instead of heavy. You will be continually challenging all parts of your being. I am giving you the assignment of making at least 20 mistakes per day. full of risking and living. I'm giving you the assignment of making at least 20 mistakes per day. What ended up happening is I would always make mistakes and then beat myself up for not being perfect. She said "John. comfort becomes very uncomfortable when a dream is being crushed.very happy and successful. I say to myself. When you've done that. I looked at mistakes as being good. Now when I make my first mistake of the day. Life is much better! So now. I no longer feel the intense fear I used to feel. This is to be your goal and when you achieve that goal you have succeeded. "Good job. Do you want to be comfortable or do you want to be happy? While you are working towards your goal. From now on. I didn't have to be perfect anymore. only 19 more to go. What she told me changed my life. or I would feel like a failure. depressed and self-berating. you've had a good day. I had to do it perfectly. One day I was on the phone with one of my most supportive friends. 20 mistakes per day I've lived much of my life with the deadly disease called perfectionism. you will at many times be very uncomfortable. In everything I did. an 89 year old woman of great wisdom. The pressure was off. It's human nature.


his paralysis disappeared. and now singing. to help pass the time. When she brought it to him. One of the nurses who had befriended him asked him if there was anything he wanted. With time he regained the use of both hands and arms. until one day he began to move his fingers on his right hand. and within 6 months he was playing and singing to other patients and the staff. When he regained consciousness in the hospital room.14 SUCCESS COMES TO THOSE WHO PERSEVERE Once there was a small boy who loved playing soccer more than anything in the world. he would get together with his friends and practice. He found he really enjoyed this. Everyday after school. But he had 12 hours a day to practice. Now it was time to leave the hospital and rebuild his life. He played well and his career progressed. On his 18th birthday. he dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player. He asked for a guitar. He wasn't able to compete professionally in the soccer leagues so he decided to devote his . he couldn't play. He began to have hope. One night on the way home. He was devastated. He was ecstatic. Miraculously. The only two things he really enjoyed were soccer. As he grew older. He regained use of his entire body. realizing his soccer career was over. he discovered he was paralyzed from the neck down. For three years he showed little sign of improvement. He had to ask himself what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. his car had a blowout and he became involved in a very serious accident. his dream came true: he was offered a position on a professional team.

But what's really hard is that if the audience doesn't like you they will start to boo. It wasn't until his fifth attempt that he was able to get through the entire song without being booed off the stage. His name is Julio Inglesias. He did. very loudly.time to singing. the audience started to boo. He went back two more times. humiliated. Once a week they have a talent contest. he has sold over 100 million albums. He had kind of a strange voice. This time he got halfway through the song and the same thing happened. only to have the same thing happen again. He could always go back and try again. Now that's perseverance. He left the stage. and about 20 seconds in. He got on stage and started to sing his song. 15 years later. He was down but not out. Now I would have been very discouraged at this point. He had never been properly trained. I don't know if I could handle that. what chances do you think he had of succeeding? He started relatively late in life. This young man was certainly discouraged. but not ready to quit. . He was unable to finish the song because they were so loud. we would not be able to enjoy his music today. Now. It's a huge place and performing there must be intimidating. His name is Lionel Richie. If he had given up. The Apollo Theater in Harlem is a place where singers go to get started. A young male singer decided to give it a try. Two weeks later he went back. and up-and-coming singers go there to test their skills. until you're forced to leave the stage. He is the most successful male singer in the world.

The turtle won. The hare had the talent (speed) but the turtle had tenacity. I have seen a common denominator among my successful students. I have seen songwriters with great talent who never succeeded because they didn’t have the perseverance necessary for success. no matter what the obstacles were. or parents that gave them music lessons at age six. Contact: bajarest@gmail. It wasn’t talent. you will be! Good luck. What they all had in common was a strong desire to write songs and the ability to keep on pushing. Remember the story about the race between the turtle and the hare.CONCLUSION In my 25 years of teaching. If you really want to be a songwriter. great .