One great way to practice your songwriting skills is to help others. So many songwriters these days post their music online (Reddit and other services), asking for comments and opinions.
I’ve always thought that asking random people for thoughts on your latest song is not the best way to improve. But, being a songwriter, you are uniquely positioned to offer some great advice to those who are asking for it.
In giving advice to other up-and-coming songwriters, you can hone your own songwriting and listening skills. In that sense, this can definitely be a win-win.
Here are three tips for helping songwriters who’ve posted online, looking for an opinion on their new song:
- Start your comments with something positive. Practically every song, even one that seems riddled with problems, will have something redeemable about it. Share that positive thought with the original poster.
- Share your thoughts on what you think the next step should be. We all have strong opinions about the songs we listen to, and you can be tempted to express those opinions more harshly than is necessary. That’s going to be counterproductive. Rather than saying something like, “Wow, that verse lyric just isn’t working!”, You might try, “You’ve got a great chorus lyric, so I think the next step is to go back into the verse lyric and…”
- While being specific about what you think needs to improve, it’s important to resist the temptation to tell them what you would do. Remember, when all is said and done, it’s their song. Find a way to describe a principle, or even mention an existing song that demonstrates the principle your trying to convey, but let them come up with their own fix.
In helping others, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to put into words what makes a good song. You’ll find that the more you do this, the better you get at it.
And in the end, you will find that your own songs will start to improve because helping others has improved your own analytical skills.
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