September 27, 2021

About the Author: Stefan Joubert

Stefan Joubert is the manager of the London Singing Institute. He is passionate about helping adults find their voice. He truly believes that no one is too old or not talented enough to start singing. To get started with your singing lessons contact Stefan at enrol@londonsinginginstitute.co.uk

Many students who come to us for adult singing lessons inevitably get inspired to create their own songs! Singing lessons work hand in hand in encouraging your own creativity, as you become comfortable with using your instrument and learn more about music theory. Sadly, too often artists start out with an idea that never quite fully manifests into a complete song. We have ten helpful tips on how to write a song and finish it so you can share your creations with the world!

Start Simple

Many musicians discourage themselves from writing, before they even start! Don’t overthink your initial idea. Complex doesn’t equal good and simple doesn’t equal bad. Find a chord progression, a lyric, or a melody you like and use it as a starting point. The beauty of starting simple is that sky’s the limit! Your song can keep developing in so many interesting ways.

Choose a Direction and Create a Vision for Your Song

Once you have played around with your initial idea, you will get a clearer direction for the rest of your song. For example, as you vocalise over your chord progression, lyrical concepts may start to form that will create a vision for your track. From here, you can make further decisions to complement your new song, but don’t be afraid to experiment and go where your intuition takes you. You don’t have to stick with a particular genre or mood.

woman writing a song

Develop Your Arrangement

At this point, you may have a verse, a chorus or a loop for your song. It’s time to expand it! Think how you can tell a story through music. For example, if you have a big, catchy hook, can you add more details to the storyline in the verses? If you’re starting off on a guitar, can you add other instruments, or vocal harmonies perhaps? Even simple things like switching up your groove or playing style can be great for building up your track.

Add Variation

A few minutes of a song may not seem like a long time, but your listeners could get easily distracted or bored, so keep things interesting by adding variation to your song! If you study how to write a song, you’ll find there are, often, many different sections that make up the tunes we love. Verse, chorus, middle 8 and bridge will all keep things interesting and keep the story going. Try switching up your chords, introducing new melodies or even adding a key change. Add and remove certain elements throughout the song, they don’t need to remain there the whole time.

A good rule of thumb is to think of introducing something new every eight bars or so. Also, consider your dynamics, rhythm and range. If your verses mostly stay in the same place, try adding larger interval jumps in the chorus to make an impact. Switch up the rhythm and melodies of your vocals to keep things interesting. If you’re not sure how to add variation, listen to some of your favourite songs and pick out the elements that catch your attention or even surprise you. Try to recreate it in your own writing and arrangement.

woman singing in the studio

Think About Ear Candy

Ear candy is usually described as those special elements that make our ears prick up! These can be anything from selecting interesting and unusual sounds, catchy riffs, vocal harmonies and more. They will further complement your arrangement and make the song enjoyable, engaging and ear-pleasing to listen to. Listen to your favourite tracks and try to find examples of ear candy!

Clean Up Your Arrangement

We often teach students in our adult singing lessons to let themselves be creative and remember, you can always change things later. Use the same approach in your song writing! Get all your ideas out, no matter how silly or unsuitable they may seem and then start to tidy up your arrangement. If something doesn’t quite work, get rid of it, or ask yourself why it doesn’t work and how you can make it fit. At this point, you’ll likely have plenty of ideas to choose from and you want to keep things simple going forward. Your song should feel cohesive, and its different elements should complement each other instead of clashing.

Don’t forget to use repetition to make your song memorable. Strike a balance between enough variation and keeping that familiarity, like repeating the choruses, for example. Some of our favourite songs do it so well by introducing new elements and sections, then bringing us back to ones we already know. This way, your tracks will be memorable, yet interesting enough to entice people to listen again.

man writing a song

Focus on Your Performance

One thing that sometimes gets overlooked is your performance. We’re not talking just about your pitch and timing, but also your dynamics and emotions. Sometimes, the imperfections can really make a song come to life. For example, if your voice breaks during an emotional passage or a groove is slightly off, it can bring a powerful sense of authenticity to the song. Again, there is no right or wrong here and it’s all about getting a good balance between nailing the performance and allowing your emotions to come through. Another great piece of advice is to think of how your performance conveys the message of the song. Should certain passages be played or sang a certain way to complement the mood? Use the range and dynamics you have available to connect with your listener.

Mixing and Production

There are entire books written on the mixing and production process, so we won’t cover it all! But they are important steps to make sure your songs have the sonic quality of professional records and can compete in today’s saturated music market. If you’re not familiar with the engineering and production side of music, we would recommend hiring a trusted expert who can make your ideas come to life and ensure they have the best representation.

man and woman working in the studioi

Take Regular Breaks

It’s easy to get tunnel vision when you are working on your music non-stop! A flow state can be great for creativity, but not giving yourself regular breaks will make you less productive in return. Take some time away from your song, get inspired by new music, seeing friends, going out, however you choose to unwind! You’ll come back to your project refreshed and raring to go and your ideas will flow much easier. Also, as you wrestle with perfecting your song, don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t quite work. Ask yourself why you don’t like it, how it can be improved and try to look for solutions. Your initial idea doesn’t have to end up on the final record and just because it didn’t work doesn’t mean that it can’t be fixed.

Play Your Song to Someone You Trust

This may not sound like a tip on how to write a song, but getting feedback from people you trust is so important for your artistic development! We would recommend playing the track to someone who has your best interests at heart, yet will give you honest, constructive criticism you can learn from. Of course, you should always trust your instincts, however, other people can provide a useful, objective, and impartial input that can help to gauge how the song will be received. You may not have even considered their point of view, but it can give you a fresh perspective on your track!

Develop Your Voice with Professional Adult Singing Lessons!

If you are looking for helpful advice on how to write a song and tips and techniques for developing your voice, our adult singing lessons are perfect for discovering your unique talent! We teach adults from beginner to advanced level in a non-judgmental, encouraging environment so you can grow your singing confidence. With courses available in all styles, we can tailor the lessons to suit your unique requirements. Get in touch to find out more about our adult singing lessons in London and online!

Tags: Productivity, Songwriting tips

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Tags: Productivity, Songwriting tips