Can You Teach Songwriting?

Storytelling through songwriting is something that has interested me since I was young. This week I listened to the SongTown on Songwriting podcast with co-hosts Clay Mills and Marty Dodson. Mills and Dodson are talented songwriters who have written songs for Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Darius Rucker, and George Strait.

In this episode, they answer the question, can songwriting be taught or do you just have to have “it.”

They believe many aspects of songwriting can and should be taught.

Marty Dodson described an experience where he had a challenge making songs universal that more people can relate to. He wrote a song about his grandfather passing away and his grandmother’s process of grieving. His challenge was that only his family could relate to this specific story. He learned to make it universal by taking the big idea of his families story and transforming it into a story that more people could relate to. This song ended up being While You Loved Me by Rascal Flatts and charted in the top 10.

Mills and Dodson explained that songs are conversations with people, so it is important to teach people how to musically and lyrically communicate through songs.

A quote that stood out to me when listening was Marty Dodson saying, “you can fill your head with so much knowledge about songwriting and never write a hit song because the key thing to learn is connecting your head and heart, so you are writing songs that make people feel things.”

They finished the podcast episode by describing a group of people who cannot learn songwriting.

“One class of people that can’t learn songwriting are those who think they know it all already.”

An important part of learning songwriting is being open and willing to grow as a songwriter.

Below are the key takeaways I got out of the podcast episode.

Key Takeaways:

  1. You need an open heart and mind
  2. You need to be willing to learn
  3. Songs need to communicate with people
  4. People need to be able to relate to your songs
  5. Connect your head and heart when songwriting

If you are interested in listening to this episode here is the link-

One thought on “Can You Teach Songwriting?

  1. Sounds interesting. While I’m convinced certain aspects of songwriting can be learned, I feel much of it also comes from immersing yourself in the music and lyrics by many other songwriters. If everything goes well, eventually, you may get inspired.

    You also need to be a good observer and write down stuff immediately that comes to your mind. This requires flexibility. I think most artists don’t tell themselves, ‘let’s sit down and write a song.’ Instead, oftentimes it’s a spontaneous melody they come up with or some words they like that spark the idea for a song.

    Liked by 1 person

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