Hey everyone!

I hope you are all doing well.

I am already in my third month of internship! Each week, I have various assignments to complete. Over the past two months, I have been writing and recording songs for one of the schools I am working with. While I have not been able to meet them in person yet, I have been helping to create music therapy materials to send to them during this time of remote learning. These songs will serve as the materials for their third quarter.

When I first started these assignments, song writing was intimidating. I had very little experience writing and I wasn’t sure where to even start. At this point in my journey, I have written about ten songs! As I have finished writing my last song for this set of assignments, I thought I’d share with you all some of my songwriting tips!

Prepare your space

It is important to prepare before writing. When I get ready to write, I make sure to have my computer with my song template and rhyme song pulled up. Next I have my phone ready with my voice recording app to record as I write so that I can keep track of the vocal melodies that I think of. It is also best to have an instrument close by, such as a piano or a guitar. For me personally, I like to write using pen and paper so I have that in my set up as well.

Ask yourself: “what is the purpose of this song?”

Before I begin writing, I ask myself what this song will be used for and what is most important to include. I like to write down the main points of what I want in my song. For example, one of my songs was about the season winter. I knew I wanted a verse about the changes in weather, clothing we wear, and activities we might do. This gave me an outline to follow and made it much easier to stay focused on the goal.

Simple is okay!

When I first started writing, I mainly stuck to a I-IV-V chord progression. I didn’t really start adding additional chords until my last few songs. At first I felt as though my songs weren’t very good because they were so simple. However, simple can be good! Especially when you are first starting. Not every song has to be Grammy-worthy as long as it does the job you want it to do!

Just go for it!

The first few times I started writing, I would sit there staring at a blank page trying to think of the perfect melody or the perfect lyrics. I was scared to write something “bad”. As the weeks went on, I found it was easier just to start writing things down and trying it out! Just because I write it down doesn’t mean I can’t change it, but I can’t change it if I don’t write anything down.

While I still wouldn’t call myself a “professional songwriter” yet, I am proud of the growth I have made in this skill so far! I know that this is a skill I will use throughout my time as a music therapist and I am glad to be improving it so early on my journey.

Thanks for ready! Stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain