Studio guitar

Songwriters Should Work On Playing as Much as They Work on Writing

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As a songwriter looking to improve, you probably think that the best advice you’re going to get is from other (hopefully more experienced) songwriters. That might be true, but there are many others involved in the professional world of music that can offer excellent thoughts and guidance to you as a songwriter.

Songwriters create the song, but the actual shaping of the music into something that people will want to listen to requires others — usually performers, producers, engineers and likely many others.

If for you songwriting is simply you sitting with your guitar in a room by yourself, or sitting at your computer/home studio/DAW, you might be writing songs in the proverbial “songwriter’s vacuum”, where you go from start to finish without any meaningful engagement from any other musicians.

And that’s rarely a good thing. Remember, other musical professionals, though they may not be songwriters themselves, can offer powerful (and relevant!) musical ideas as your song takes shape.

Especially these days, where computers can get you from initial idea to completed tune with practically no input from others, you can find yourself writing songs that spring forth in spite of (rather than because of) human involvement.

One of the best ways to ensure that your songs always have that all-important “human touch” is this: work on your playing as much as you work on your songwriting.

That means that as you work on your song, try picking up your guitar, or pull up to a keyboard instrument, and play some of your ideas. Even if you plan for your song to be mainly DAW-created, with no involvement of acoustic instruments, the fact that you’re playing your ideas with your fingers gives those ideas an important touch of reality and relevance.

It may sound old-school or old-fashioned to you, but playing your instrument keeps the process of songwriting organic. The better you become as a player, the more ideas you can generate.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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