Music Critiquing Requests

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Gary EwerI love listening to the songs that readers of my blog have been writing, and I love giving suggestions for improvement. Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of requests to listen to songs my readers have been writing, and am doing my best to listen and get back to you all. That said, I have some requests and suggestions for you if you’d like for me to listen to something you’ve done. (If you’d like for me to listen, please read this entire post.)

  1. Please don’t send a sound file to my email. It’s better to upload it to a secure site such as SoundCloud, or some other equivalent online service, or upload it to your own website and then send me a link. If the song is unfinished, or if you’re worried about security, most online services (SoundCloud included) will allow you to upload privately, and the song won’t appear on your profile. You can then send me the link privately through email (contact info at the end of this post).
  2. I will make the assumption that you think something needs fixing. It can help me understand the kind of musician you are if you tell me what you think is wrong with your song, and also what you think is right about it. Don’t just send me a link and ask me what I think of your song. Tell me the specific problem you’re having if you can. Example: “I’m almost finished this tune, but something about the verse melody is bothering me.” That’s a good kind of question, because it tells me that you’ve got the issue narrowed down a bit, and then I’m able to be more concise in my suggestions.
  3. My expertise is in musical composition and performance issues, not sound recording techniques. I’m not the person to ask if you should have used an AKG K-181, or if it’s OK to apply phantom power to a dynamic microphone. There are better people around to answer those kinds of technical questions.
  4. My time is a bit limited. I love listening and helping songwriters whenever I can, but I probably only have time for a reply, and then an additional correspondence if you want to fix things and request another listen. This is not an open-ended offer of help, so I’ll do my best to make concise suggestions for improving what you’re working on.
  5. (I don’t necessarily like this, but) I tend to prioritize requests to listen by tending to purchasers of my songwriting manuals first. That’s mainly because I assume that they’ve been applying the guidelines and principles I’ve described in my books, and problems with their songs are often solved quickly.
  6. I don’t charge for this, so please consider this an offer to give some quick observations and help, not a songwriting lesson as such.

I always respect the work that any songwriter does, and so you can expect me to be respectful and courteous always in my correspondence with you. It’s never my style to express myself negatively when I’m helping others. I confess that I’m opinionated when it comes to music, but I only express those opinions if they’re relevant to what you need from me.

Also, keep in mind that some music will sound great even though some basic principles of songwriting have been violated. That’s the nature of music. So if your song is working well and people seem to like it, be happy with that! It’s then time to move on to your next one.

If you think I can help you solve a problem you’re having with a song you’re writing, please write me and include a link: songs [at] secretsofsongwriting [dot] com. (reminder: no sound files, please).

All the best with your songwriting projects!


Written by Gary Ewer. Follow on Twitter.

“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 6-eBook Bundle looks at songwriting from every angle, and has been used by thousands of songwriters. How to use chords, write melodies, and craft winning lyrics. $95.70 $37.00 (and you’ll receive a FREE copy of “From Amateur to Ace: Writing Songs Like a Pro.“)

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  1. Thank you for taking the time to do this kind of thing. Time is a valuable thing. And it’s very generous of you to give yours to us for nothing specific in return. So to clarify though, if i think i’ve written something better than Bohemian Rhapsody, best not to pass it along. I think i would and say, “hmm..i don’t know know what to do with this.” haha. joking. Thanks again, Gary.


  2. Found your blog recently when contemplating a restart of my own blog. I would very much appreciate any advice you have on my work some of which you can find at I look forward to your critique of my work

    • Hi GK:

      I went to your site, but found no music. It’s better, anyway, if you have a specific tune of yours in mind, one that you think needs some help. I’m very happy to critique, but this is meant more for people who are in the process of writing something, or have just finished, and are trying to narrow in on a few possible problems.


      • I have several pieces about which I have need for guidance. Would it be acceptable to email one to you, and if so what address?
        I retired from a career doing music therapy with autistic kids, and short story… started composing, had a stroke, fighting to get back some chops get back with it. Trying to write ‘ visual music’. That which promotes, encourages daydreaming. Would really enjoy seeing what happens if one were to reverse the process and have the musician drop the music on the writers desk and say ” here’s the music, make me a movie “.
        Look,forward,to hear from you

        • Hi Gerard:

          My email is not set up to accept attached files. If you have something for me to listen to, I’d love to help. If you don’t have a SoundCloud account, I’ll show you how to set one up, and that will be the easiest way for me to help you. Please write me: songs [at] secretsofsongwriting [dot] com.


  3. Pingback: Interesting Links For Musicians and Songwritiers – June 20, 2014 | Creative Music | Inspiring Musical Creativity

  4. This is very generous of you and I might just take you up on it! I’ve been reading your blog for years and have a lot of respect for your work. Need to buy your book still but have not because I have been busy doing just about anyihng but songwriting for a couple of years, thanks to fatherhood, new job, move to a new city, new career,and on and on and on! Will grab a copy before I send you anything, though, because the answer might just already be in your pages!

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