NEW!!! Alice's tips and TUTORIALS...
Try this...: Play around with basic chord progressions ie: E7/ A7 and see how many melodies you can come up with over them. It's amazing how many songs are written over the same chord progressions. This is an amazing songwriting exercise and who knows...you might write a big hit. Bruno Mars, Sara Bareilles, Pink and countless others have written some great songs over tried and true chord progressions.
- New TIP... RECORD YOURSELF! Whether it's a small idea or an entire song. It's very important to record it as soon as you get the idea. Many of my ideas happen when I'm running or in my car. I grab my cell phone and turn on the voice memo setting. If you are like me...you'll forget your idea if it's not recorded immediately.
- TIP OF THE MONTH... READ! Yup, the greatest lyricists read a lot. John Lennon read Lewis Carroll... think of I am the Walrus, or Lucy in the sky with diamonds. Sting was actually an English teacher. Read poems, nonsense, classics, and lyrics. Think of your words as tools in the tool box. The more you have, the more choices you have...
- A tip on a snowy winters day... JUST DO IT. Have fun with your lyrics. Don't be afraid to be corny or goofy. By the way LYRICS DON'T HAVE TO RHYME unless you want them to. Bottom line is that there is no right or wrong, just your own original style. I'm often surprised by lyrics that my students come up with. Those moments make things fun.
- Collaborate with others. I have been extremely fortunate to find wonderful creative people throughout my career to write with. Whether I am writing lyrics and melodies to a finished arrangement, or melodies and chords to lyrics, or even adding a bridge or chorus to an almost finished piece. Each time I work with other writers I learn so much more about songwriting. It can be scary at times as you want them to like your parts, but it's always worth it in the end. Like an actor, it's fun to get into another artist's head and figure out what a song is about. Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Lennon and McCartney,Bernstein and Sondheim, Richards and Jagger etc., etc.... My last 5 CD's have been a collaboration with musicians including Jimmy Leahey, Al Greene, Eryn Shewell and Scott Monetti. My most prolific partner has been Jimmy Leahey for the past decade and we continue to create an incredible catalogue of completed pieces. When I create songs during my workshops the collaborative process is on steroids and many of the groups I work with end up continuing the process.
- Listen to a wide variety of music. It's so easy to listen to music that is within our "comfort zone". Whether that be classic music or current pop. In order to create something new it's important to widen our horizons. The internet provides the ultimate opportunity to listen to world music, new age, classical, other languages etc. Listening to instruments that are not necessarily "western" can open up ideas as well. Think of how George Harrison added Sitar to the Beatles music. It was ground breaking.
- What are your favorite songs? Why do you like them? Figure that out and that will clue you in on your next tune. Write what you like, not what you think someone else will like. If you aren't true to yourself, listeners won't believe you either.
- Write down and/or record your ideas immediately. Don't wait until later because you will probably forget your awesome idea. If that means swerving down the highway searching for a pen or fumbling for the record button on your phone....so be it:)
- Try not to pre-edit your song before you've got all of your ideas out. If the creative juices are flowing...keep going. You will have plenty of time to edit later. Who knows, perhaps you will even have the makings of another song as well or a rhapsody. Can you imagine if Queen pre-edited "Bohemian Rhapsody" or the Beatles pre-edited "The End".? Fragmented ideas can work together beautifully.
- Write a little every day. Even if you don't have any amazing ideas, the exercise of writing keeps you moving and prevents getting writers block. I keep a journal with me all the time. Just a phrase I hear on the radio can end up in it and inspire me later.