Over the years, I’ve heard much debate over whether on not you can “teach” songwriting. Some hold the position that the chosen few are blessed with talent from above while the rest of us schmucks are just kidding ourselves if we even attempt to write commercially.
While I have met some extraordinarily talented people who just seem to “have it” without any training of any kind. However, I could count those people on one hand.
I am living proof that you can teach songwriting. My early songs were embarrassingly horrible. And I thought they were “just as good as the ones on the radio.” I didn’t know what I didn’t know. My songs were too personal to be commercial. They were on topics that didn’t interest a lot of people. And they were just poorly crafted at times.
Through a fortunate set of circumstances and a lot of hard work, I met Kim Williams. He was a writer with songs on more than 100 million records. He had tons of cuts with Garth and pretty much everyone else. He thought I had promise and he said he could teach me how to become a hit writer. He did that by patiently showing me time and time again where my songs jumped the tracks and fell apart. He taught me how the business worked. Most importantly, he taught me how to write songs that MATTER to millions of people.
Without learning from Kim, I never would have written one hit. There’s no doubt of that.
Another mentor of mine, Tom Shapiro, who now mentors for SongTown says that teaching songwriting is like teaching golf. Not everyone who takes lessons will become a full time pro golfer. Some will have more talent and succeed that way. Others will succeed by learning and practicing what they learn for hours. Some won’t succeed at all on the pro level. But 99.9% who take lessons and work on their game will improve. If you keep improving, who knows what you can accomplish over time.
Don’t let the “elite few” tell you that you can’t learn songwriting and become as good as they are. It’s not magic. A little bit of talent and thousands of hours of hard work can help you achieve things beyond your dreams. Don’t ask me how I know.