Do We Know Where We’re Coming From?

Do We Know Where We’re Coming From? I find, in talking to prospective students and other songwriters, there are those who respect roots and those who have no idea of them. Some of them, like my former student and friend, Mark Islam, know more about who wrote what in...

Art for the Craft of Songwriting

  I’ve recently come to the viewpoint that it’s necessary to understand all art in order to understand any art. I’ve noticed that people who have an appreciation for the visual arts, literature, dance, etc. also approach music in a more vulnerable way. And,...

If You’re Doing it for the Money, You May Not Make Any

Last week, one of my Advanced Class students said something which has bothered me ever since. It’s not that I haven’t heard it before-in fact, I’ve heard it much too often-but usually from business executives, and jaded ones at that. The whole thing...

Step One: Touch Somebody

Step One: Touch Somebody Think back to the first time you wrote a song for someone and then played it for that person. Did it have an effect on him or her? And wasn’t that a thrill? At that moment, you may have realized that the whole thing is about communication. And...

Reality: The Training Wheels

Did you ever use training wheels when you were learning to ride a bicycle? Or did you ever see anyone else use them? The purpose is to keep the bicycle from tipping over. They allow the rider to stay on long enough to perfect some of the skills of riding a bicycle....

Oysters and Muses

An oyster makes a pearl when some foreign piece of matter, like a grain of sand, has entered the oyster and he covers it with layers of nacre (mother of pearl). Basically, he’s sort of spitting at it because it’s an annoyance. I think songwriters are like that. If...