How to learn Songwriting as a Beginner


Songwriting might be something that you think of as a talent that you either have or you don’t. Maybe you’ve tried your hand at it in the past, or perhaps you are a complete newbie who finds the idea of songwriting a little daunting. Whatever your skill level, writing songs is something that you can learn and get better at.

There are a number of techniques you can use to give yourself a helping hand in improving your songwriting skills. Here are just a few things you can do to develop your skills and find the inspiration to write fantastic songs, even if you’re a beginner.

Find Your Own Inspiration

Creativity needs inspiration, so this is something that you should be looking for at any chance you get. One of the best ways to find inspiration for songwriting is to listen to as much music as you can. When you listen, try to really pay attention to the structures, the rhythms, and the different musical elements.

Listen to music that stirs up a real emotional response in you to get well and truly inspired. Taking in plenty of music will also help you to understand more about what listeners expect in different pieces of music. Most songs have a relatively predictable structure, which can give a sense of satisfaction for listeners. By learning these patterns, you can create a piece of music that evokes those same responses.

Learn the ‘Rules’ of Songwriting

Music may not seem as though it has too many rules, but it does, in fact, have plenty that will help you to create a piece of music which makes sense to listeners. If you are a musician, the chances are that you inherently know a lot of these rules, even if you don’t know that you know them. You’ve probably picked up on the natural structures of songs as well as the different elements, such as key and cadences.

However, if you want to really get your head around the rules of songwriting, you can take online courses such as our two which focus specifically on songwriting - songwriting the basics and songwriting the creative process. These courses are designed to help you get to grips with all the nuances of songwriting, from structuring your writing sessions to harnessing your creativity.

Figure Out the Story You Want to Tell

Great songs tell a story, and those stories create an emotional response. Think of the likes of Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Freddie Mercury. Their songs tend to tell captivating stories which keep listeners interested, from A Boy Named Sue to Bohemian Rhapsody.

Your songs don’t need to have stories quite as complicated as these classics, but every song should have some sort of story behind it. Before you start writing, it may be a good idea to think about what story you want to tell and how you want to portray it. Maybe you want to tell a love story, or perhaps you want to make a political statement which tells the story of the way things are or the way they should be.

Find a Natural Rhythm and Melody

If you know what your song is about, you may get a good idea for how it is going to sound. On the most basic level, you’re most likely to write happy songs in a major key and sad songs in a minor key. The subject matter can inform the sound of the song in this way, but that doesn’t mean you have to get stuck in this as many artists have broken the mould to create incredible music. For example, Yesterday by The Beatles is actually written in F major but it still has a sad and haunting sound, most commonly associated with minor keys.

Once you know the type of sound you want your song to have, you can get started on the melody and the other musical elements that will transform your song.

Songwriting isn’t something that is only reserved for a select few with a natural ability. If you learn the basics and keep practising and stretching your songwriting skills, you may be surprised at what you can achieve. So get practising and check out our songwriting courses if you would like to expand your skill set.


Study Songwriting at ICMP 

If you're interested in studying a songwriting degree with us, contact our Admissions Team on 020 7328 0222 or email who will be able to guide you through the application process. 

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by ICMP staff writer
September 3, 2019
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