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Do I Need to Study Songwriting to Be a Good Songwriter?

Updated: May 21

TL;DR: Today we explore the question: “Do I need to study music to be a good songwriter?” I unpack three main routes available, no study, self study and supported study, and the pros and cons involved. All of this is also unpacked in today’s Be Radical Make Music podcast episode >>

A question that pops up a lot when I’m working with songwriters is:

“I’ve never studied music, can I be a songwriter?”


I usually answer this question with a straight yes or no but I feel that it’s a little more complex than that, so I wanted to explore the topic further in this week’s podcast episode. Let's explore what studying really means, the different approaches to it, and the pros and cons of each path.



And before we jump in I want to say that it’s hard to make a “wrong” choice in this realm.


Sure, sometimes our decisions bring consequences that feel overwhelming, but there’s always a balance of pros and cons. And in the world of songwriting, music-making, and art, nothing is black and white!


There are three broad routes towards songwriting that you can take. Each path has its own positives and negatives which I have laid out below. The choice you make really depends on your personal needs and goals so if you are not too sure what they are yet then that’s a good place to start!


📚No Study:

PROS:

Going the DIY route requires a lot intuition and driven the feelings and emotions you have around your writing. There is often minimal focus on technical skills but is heavily weighted towards practical skills. This approach could look like writing songs and performing them live to ‘feel them out’. It’s about finding your own way and learning by doing, which can lead to you to develop your own unique and authentic voice and writing some super cool, original music!

CONS:

However, a lack of technical skills, feedback and support could mean that you hit a wall pretty fast, your songs all might start sounding very similar and you can feel ‘stuck’ not knowing how to move forward with your music.


📚📚Self Study:

PROS:

This involves using outside resources to learn about the craft of songwriting like books, YouTube lessons, and self-paced courses. It offers total flexibility in your learning and can be tailored to your own learning style. Self study is a great way for you to engage deeply with the craft of songwriting and seek feedback on your own terms.

CONS:

The drawback to this is a lack of accountability and structure means many writers ‘fall off’ their studies, have huge gaps in learning and implementing or feel lost in the vast sea of music education like songwriting theory, musicianship, and performance skills. Unless you have very strong discipline skills the stop-start nature of self study can damage confidence and motivation over time.


📚📚📚Supported Study:

PROS:

This includes more formal education options like university or college as well as structured live online programs with support, live memberships, one to one lessons, and mentorship. It’s the most comprehensive learning route of the three and offers guidance, and often community support, which can significantly benefit your songwriting journey. The consistent feedback means you can learn from experienced mentors and tutors who tailor lessons to your current ability and music ambitions.

CONS:

The downside is it requires financial and energy investment and a more immediate commitment to your music in a way that the other routes don't but the results and learning outcomes make supported study the most effective route of the three (in my opinion!) in exponentially developing your songwriting and reaching your goals in the shorter term.


There’s no ‘best way’ to study, and when it comes to songwriting we are all on our own separate paths.


As a songwriting tutor and (lifelong music student!) my personal choice for my own music development is supported study. Perhaps it’s the same for you, perhaps not. Ultimately, it makes no real difference as long as you are practicing writing your songs and continuously committing to your creativity.

It’s a journey and an adventure all of which I discuss more in this week’s podcast episode >> 🌎


I’d love to let you know how I can support your own music journey, should you want to dive into some supported study…


🎵🎵🎵 Authentic Songwriting: a 3 Day Online Workshop starts on Monday 27th May!

It’s focussed around building up your unique artistic voice through your songwriting with classes on lyric writing, melody making and song structure plus TONS of bonuses! And only £17 to join! Check out the details here and register today for your spot >>

🎵🎵🎵 Radical Songwriting Academy is coming BACK!

This isn’t a self-paced online course like before; it’s now a live 8-week songwriting program with loads of juicy pre-recorded content built in. We’ll cover lyrics, melody, chords, and structure, plus weekly mentoring sessions, creative sessions, and a monthly songwriting challenge and feedback session.


Starting Tuesday, June 11th, we’ll kick things off and by the start of August, you’ll have a 4-track E.P. written and ready to record and release, keep, or pitch! You can also upgrade for some 1:1 support with me to guide you through the program and your own music projects.


However you decide to move forward, know that your commitment to your music is the number one deciding factor that will get you where you want to be. And all the help and support is there for you as and when you may need it.


Thanks for reading, and stay radical! 🤘🤘

Rosie


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