Two major mistakes that will keep you from enjoying songwriting and how to overcome them
There comes a time in many of a musicians’ journey, when they have been playing for enough time, that they start thinking about writing some songs themselves. It is one of the most awesome activities a musician can do, but sadly it is often not as fulfilling for musicians as it could be.
I cannot emphasise the awesomeness of songwriting enough and want you to experience it too. I made this article to show you two major mistakes people have when approaching songwriting and how you can avoid them.
If you follow the advice in this article you will get less headaches and instead have tons of fun and feel good about the results you get out of songwriting!
There are two major contributors that will almost certainly lead to not getting the awesome feeling of fulfilment from songwriting:
- Thinking you don’t have what it takes and giving up
- Trying to do it all by yourself and not finding a good teacher to help you
I will do my best to explain why these hurt your songwriting and how you can avoid that.
Why you should forget the disastrous idea of needing natural talent to write songs
It is very unfortunate that people have propagated this myth that you need to be a talented and great musician to be able to write good songs and to enjoy the activity. Lots of people have a fixed idea of musicality: “Either you are musical or you are not and that goes for the whole of your life.” Some people have a slightly better idea: “People have varying amounts of musicality. It can be developed, but it takes a lot of work.”
Both of these thoughts are wrong! The truth is that yes, people have varying degrees of musicality and you can easily develop your own.
As a rough rule:
If you want to be a good songwriter, you need to be a good musician.
If you want to be a very good songwriter, you need to be a very good musician.
If you want to be a great songwriter, you need to be a great musician.
Anyone can become a good musician and a good songwriter!
Even if you don’t have much natural talent already and are not very self-disciplined, you can easily become good. All you need is to find a competent teacher and do what he or she tells you to do. Any competent teacher who has taught for some time will have helped loads of ordinary people develop their musicality and write their own music.
“But what if good isn’t good enough? What if I want to become very good, or even great?”
Awesome! 🙂 This is a great vision and in this case you definitely need a great teacher and be meticulous in following his or her advice, especially in the department on developing your musicality and self-discipline. This brings me to my next point:
Why it is critical for you to find a teacher who has experience in helping people like you improve their songwriting
It doesn’t matter whether you want to simply write nice good songs and have fun or if you want to become great and have fun in the process anyway. You will not get very far if you don’t get quality lessons from someone who has experience teaching songwriting.
What will happen if you try on your own or with someone unequipped to teach songwriting?
- You will enter many dead ends because there is nobody to warn you beforehand and steer you in a better direction. You will also not know how to get out of these dead ends. A competent teacher will direct your learning so that you will save yourself from most of these dead ends and in the rare case that you do meet a dead end, will help you get out of it as fast as possible.
- You will not have many approaches to songwriting. Most self-taught songwriters only have one or two ways to write songs, resulting in the songs sounding all the same – how boring! A competent teacher will give you many more ways to approach songwriting, giving you the ability to stay fresh and get the variety you need to be able to have fun!
- You will not get expert feedback on the songs you’ve written. It is very hard to be critical of your own songs and to find how to improve them – that’s why even high level musicians and artists often have producers to help them out. Having a competent teacher along to help you through the process will also result in you finding improvements you would not have otherwise found. Over time, he or she will help you become more independent in this.
- You will not address the underlying skills that are required to improve your songwriting. There are many skills in general musicianship that need to be developed and directed to improving songwriting so that it can become more natural and effortless. Even if you already have lessons for your instrument of choice, you will have a hard time addressing these from the viewpoint of songwriting, unless you have a teacher that has experience in just that.
- You will have many unfinished songs. One massive problem of new songwriters is having hundreds of song ideas but barely any finished songs. Oftentimes it can feel like luck has more to do with whether you will finish a song than your skills and as a result the process can become tedious, overwhelming and demotivating. A competent teacher will show you ways you can reliably finish songs and make the whole process fun, easy and a whole lot inspiring!
If you care about writing songs, you should definitely find a competent teacher for it. If the best you find doesn’t teach your instrument of choice it is still worth it. Someone like this should be able to get you to write better, regardless of your instrument. And hey, you can also learn a new instrument too if you want. Fun! 🙂
What you should do to have the most fun and make the best music you can
Keeping in mind what I’ve written above, I want you to make two resolutions right now and keep them in mind for the rest of your musical life. Taking these to heart and following them will give you great chances of enjoying songwriting and feeling good about the results.
Resolution number one
“I will not focus on the amount of natural talent I do or do not have, but will rather focus on the idea of writing awesome songs and feeling good about it.”
Resolution number two
“I will find the best songwriting teacher available and do my best to be a good student. I will do whatever it takes to get the most out of songwriting that I can.”
Follow the resolutions above and you will change your musical life for the better. If you need to be reminded of those more often, write them out or print them on paper and have them visible in the space where you practice your instrument and write songs.
Hope you got a lot out of the article and if you liked it, share it with your musician friends!
About the author:
Hey, I am Jere Toikka and I am a piano and guitar teacher in Turku with a passion for songwriting and composition. I have helped many students learn to compose and write songs that they are happy about. Oftentimes when I listen to my students play their songs or compositions I am really moved emotionally – It is the best and most rewarding part of my work!