by Marty Dodson
Jan 19, 2020
Songwriting mentors can help you avoid huge mistakes…
I am a huge believer in finding a songwriting mentor. My songwriting mentors helped me avoid so many mistakes and they cut years off the learning curve I would have experienced if I had to figure out everything on my own. Little statements from my mentors still stand out in my mind and shape my writing:
“You’re making the singer look bad, they’ll never cut that.”
“Don’t build a bridge if there’s not a river to cross.”
“You’re just re-wording your first verse. Give me something new in the second verse”
My mentors helped me figure out what I was doing wrong, but more importantly, they helped me see how to fix the problems. If it had not been for mentors like Kim Williams, Ron Harbin, Mike Sebastian and Tom Shapiro, I would still be writing average songs and wondering why they weren’t getting recorded.
SongTown is lucky enough to have Hall of Fame Writer Tom Shapiro as one of our mentors.
I’m so excited that he has made himself available to all of you. He’s a great teacher and mentor! Many people ask what we do in SongTown mentoring sessions.
I have two basic programs I stick to.
The first simply involves the craft of writing and critiquing songs. We listen to a song, then I ask the writer what they think I will say about their song. After they respond, I give them my feedback. My goal is always to work my way out of a job by teaching the writer how to critique their own songs. When they start telling me exactly what I was going to say, I know they are getting it. Sometimes, writers throw out ideas and I help them figure out which ideas are worth pursuing. Or, they may have me help them determine which songs they should demo and which ones are not worth demoing. (that plan can be a HUGE money saver)
The other program involves helping the writer create a plan for their writing.
We access where they are. Then we look at where they are wanting to be eventually, and we make a plan that will help them get there. Our plans always include measurable goals that let the writer gauge how they are doing and makes sure they are moving in the right direction.
Both approaches are valuable and can help you get closer to your songwriting goals. Whether you find your mentor through SongTown or somewhere else, I encourage each of you to find a mentor that can help you get to the next level with your writing. It will be the best investment you ever make.
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