This past Monday and Tuesday (March 4-5) I went to a music conference at the Rock Church entitled “Innovate.” It was the very first music conference they had put out, and it was a big success. I had the privilege of going with my friend Rebekka. We had fun, learned some new things, and made friends. The first class I went to was a master clinic—“Secrets to writing great worship material.” Pastor Myles Young taught this class, and it was a really good one. He brought up some things about song writing that I had never thought of. Here are some ideas he gave that I took notes on during the class:
Remember the 5 W’s when writing a song–Who, What, When, Where Why. Is the song to God, or about God? Or is it to the congregation?
Make sure you have your tenses straight.
One thing he pointed out was what I just wrote above. Tenses. An example he used was a song with the words “All I wanna do is praise ye the Lord.” I guess people really don’t think sometimes when they write songs! Praise ye the Lord–that’s telling people to praise the Lord! And the way it starts off? All I wanna do….is praise ye the Lord? What?! That makes me laugh! But it’s easy to do without thinking about it, even if it’s not so obvious as “All I wanna do is praise ye the Lord.”
Another one which is not so obvious, is the song “I Am Blessed.” It’s really slow, and doesn’t sound very happy. He went on to say when he hears people sounding sad and singing slow “I ammmm bleeessseed,” it makes him want to sing “I’mmmm deeepresssed.” lol SO–remember to have your tenses straight, and think about what message you are conveying when you write a song. Write words that go with the music.
Write songs how YOU write them. Don’t be trapped into someone elses style of writing songs. Different things work for different people. Write for yourself–everyone is unique.
Don’t write like a beginner! (Don’t write just to write) Don’t keep repeating the same thing over and over, but don’t ramble when you write. Remember–some repetition is good, but not a lot.
The Rule of Repetition: 3 is plenty
Don’t repeat a line of words more than 3 times.
Don’t repeat a chord progession more than 3 times.
Maybe a 4th time with a twist.
I won’t go into everything he said, but he gave me a cool idea! For those of you piano players, or musicians in general, when you go to sit down at the piano to write a song, you tend to go the same chords and maybe end up playing the same tune. At least that happens to me all the time. The idea I got from him is so simple, but can make a big difference on your song writing. So, here it is: Get a cheap keyboard. Yep, you heard right! Go get yourself one of those cheap keyboards you can get from Wal-Mart or Costco. The reason is, these little keyboards (try a Casio keyboard) have many recorded beats on them. Different rythyms. To get out of the rut of going back to the same old chords, set one of these keyboards up next to your piano, start a beat, and wah lah! There’s something about a simple little beat that can help. He demonstrated this is the class. He started a fast beat, sat down at the piano, and something other than his normal piano chords came to him. He had other people help out. He started another beat, and asked if anyone was hearing anything they wanted to add in. A guy in the class said he could think of a bass line to go with the beat, so Bro. Young gave him a base, and the guy started playing to the beat. Then Bro. Young followed along with him on the piano. It started to turn into a song really fast. People from the class started suggesting words, and within just a few minutes, we we’re getting a song going. It was amazing how fast it happened! I tried using a beat from a keyboard I have at my house, and something else other than my normal chord procedure on the piano started coming to me. It’s really neat how the simple things in like can make a big difference.
So–those are just some of the thoughts from one of the classes. I might end up posting more later about other things I learned from different classes.
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