Songwriting session

7 Tips for Organizing Your Songwriting Sessions

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If songwriting for you means grabbing your guitar and strumming away until something sounds good, you’re likely wasting a lot of time. Good songwriting means using your time efficiently.

If you’re looking to improve the odds that you’ll write a good tune, use these tips to broaden your definition of what a songwriting could and should be:

  1. Consider listening to be part of a songwriting session. When I sit down to write, I like preparing by listening to a good tune or two. I find that it helps to focus my mind and get me thinking in a musical sort of way.
  2. Try starting songwriting sessions with improvisation. And make it smart improvisation. If you’re not sure what that means, read this article, “Make Improvisation a Smarter Part of Your Songwriting Process.” Be sure to record all your ideas, no matter how lame they may seem at the time.
  3. Try several different instruments for writing songs. This helps to avoid the typical “muscle memory” that happens from your fingers always moving to the same patterns when you use one favourite instrument. The instrument you choose for songwriting doesn’t need to be one you’re particularly good at. As long as you can find your way around on the instrument, it should work fine for you.
  4. Break long sessions up into several shorter ones, with lots of breaks. One long session is fine if you’re on a roll, but I’ve always found that shorter sessions, sometimes working only for 15 minutes or so before taking a short break, can keep my mind feeling fresh and creative.
  5. Use a cappella singing as part of your process. Instead of always opting for your guitar, piano or computer to guide you, try a bit of unaccompanied singing to create new melodies. Your voice gives you an immediate idea of the singability of your ideas, and it trains your mind to imagine the instruments that aren’t there.
  6. Try sketching out song ideas. Making a kind of map or drawing of how you see your song progressing is a great way to stay organized as the song unfolds. You can always change a sketch, of course, but having something like that acts as a guide that can give you confidence as you write.
  7. Give yourself a day or two off per week. Daily songwriting, which I think is important, doesn’t necessarily mean every day. Five out of seven can be just right for most of us. The days off can be great ways to keep your songwriting batteries charged.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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