Reclaiming My Songwriting Mojo

Reclaiming My Songwriting Mojo

Over winter break, I had the opportunity to spend almost an entire Saturday writing and recording music. It was AWESOME. It reminded me of my life before baby, when my weekends were almost exclusively dedicated to musical projects. And while life is a million times better with this guy in it, I do miss having songwriting as a creative outlet on a regular basis.

We jetted off to Florida a few days after that, and spending some time on the beach soaking up the sun was just what I needed to recharge my batteries and clear my head. I thought a lot about my work and priorities while I was there, and came to the realization that my lack of creative output is what has me feeling unaccomplished these last few months.

I returned home to a FROZEN TUNDRA and also an email from a high school friend who had ordered a custom CD from me. She and her husband are expecting a baby girl in a few months, and she chose songs that she could play and sing to her. My friend had so many nice things to say about my music and how she was looking forward to sharing it with her little bundle, and that only intensified my desire to reclaim my “songwriting mojo” for lack of a better term.

Now that my baby is getting a little older, he spends more time playing independently (with close supervision, of course) while I jot down lyrics and record rough takes on my iPhone. It doesn’t hurt that Parker loves my guitar, so practicing new songs also doubles as entertainment for him :)

This is not a New Year’s resolution post, but rather a reminder to myself to choose songwriting over laundry, dishes and dusting when I have the chance. I’m usually so energized after finishing a new tune that I’m ready to tackle all those mundane chores — that songwriting mojo is quite powerful!

Are you looking to reclaim or discover your own songwriting mojo? A good place to start is my CMTE course, The DIY Guide to Writing, Recording & Sharing Your Music. Listening to my friends’ and colleagues’ creations serves as additional inspiration and motivation to keep cultivating my passion.

Friday Fave: RhymeZone

Friday Fave - RhymeZone

Today I want to share one of my most frequently used web-based resources of all time: RhymeZone. I discovered this website shortly after I started writing my own music therapy songs, and still use it every single time I write a new song.

There are probably plenty of rhyming tools out there, but I like this one for its simplicity. All you do is type a word into the box and hit the “search” button — then all of the rhyming words pop up, organized by number of syllables. Not only can you search for perfect rhymes, but other searches available are near rhymes, synonyms, antonyms, homophones, and more.

I just discovered that RhymeZone now has an app available for $2.99, which might come in handy for songwriting on the go. But since I write all of my songs on my Macbook, I’ll stick with the web version. When I write a song, I keep RhymeZone open in my browser from start to finish and probably use it at least 20 times before the lyrics are finished.

Have you used this site, or do you have another favorite rhyming tool? I’m always looking for new songwriting resources…so if you have ’em, send ’em my way!

Nurturing a Creative Burst

Nurturing a Creative Burst

It’s happened to you before: all of the sudden, you feel the urge to create.  Whether it’s a blog post, a song, a piece of art, or otherwise, the creative juices have hit you full force.  So how do you keep the momentum going until you have a finished product to share with the world?

I experienced a creative burst just last week.  I was planning a new session of the early childhood music class I lead at my church, when for some reason it seemed like a good idea to write 9 new songs for it.  No matter that it was five days away, and I was busy enough as it was.

The single most important step I took to maximize that burst of creativity was to write down my end goal immediately. That way, even when the jolt of inspiration started to wane, I’d have a plan in front of me.

So even though the songs weren’t written yet, I came up with titles and included them in the song packet I was putting together.  Then I wrote the lyrics to the songs, which were included in the packet as well.  Then I made copies of those packets, so that there was no going back.  I was fully committed to writing those 9 new songs, whether I liked it or not!

Luckily, I was still feeling inspired when it came time to sit down and write the melodies and chords the next day.  And the next day, when I spent hours recording instrumental tracks; and even at 11 pm that night, as I finished up recording vocals.  Sure, I wasn’t as fired up at that point as I’d originally been, but I was looking forward to burning those completed CDs and experiencing that feeling of pride over my accomplishment.

And that’s the difference between letting a dose of inspiration take you where the wind blows and using it to map out a course of action.  Because I took the time to do that first thing, I ended up with 9 new songs (which were a hit, by the way) for my class as well as 9 potential new blog post topics.  Long live the creative burst!

Adventures in Songwriting: Collaboration

Lennon McCartney Songwriting

Lerner & Loewe.  Rodgers & Hammerstein.  Kander & Ebb.  Lennon & McCartney.  Simon & Garfunkel.  All famous songwriting duos whose names just belong together, right?

To be honest, I’ve never collaborated with another songwriter when it comes to music therapy/children’s songs.  (Unless you count therapeutic songwriting with students or piggyback songs, that is!)  I’ve definitely used input from custom song clients, teachers, parents and others, but the actual process of creating the song is an independent one.

However, I do have a songwriting partner for other kinds of music.  My mom and I have written wedding songs, choral Christmas pieces, songs for nonprofit organizations, and more over the last five years or so.  We both bring our own strengths to each project, and the finished product reflects a nice mix of our styles.  Goulet & Rambach has a nice ring to it :)

I’d love to collaborate with other music therapists at some point for a breath of fresh air and new inspiration.  Any music therapy songwriting duos out there we should know about?  Maybe you’re half of one — if so, let me know!

Friday Fave: iPhone Apps for Songwriting

iPhone Voice Memos for Songwriting

Today’s Friday Fave is actually a spin-off of yesterday’s guest post at Time for Music, which is the second installment of my “Adventures in Songwriting” series.  I mentioned that I use the voice memo app during the songwriting process, and Susan of the wonderful blog Make Me Musical wanted to hear more about it.

I wrote about my favorite iPhone apps around this time last year, but lo and behold, I failed to mention voice memos.  I keep my iPhone next to me while I write my songs, first so that I can tune my guitar using the Cleartune app, and second, so that I don’t lose my melodies before I get them down on paper.

As I mentioned while describing my songwriting process, the melody usually comes to me organically as I’m writing the lyrics.  I don’t like to switch gears between perfecting the words and figuring out chords, so I simply open the voice memo app (which comes already installed on the iPhone) and hit record.  That way I can sing or hum the melody and save it for later.

Not only does this app let me save my voice memos under a custom title, but when I sync my phone to my laptop, they automatically transfer to a dedicated iTunes playlist.  These features come in extremely handy when I use voice memos during my lessons and music therapy sessions.  Often I’ll record a piece of music for a student, download it to my computer, and then pop it onto his or her USB flashdrive for practice purposes.

I’d love to hear about other uses for the voice memo app.  iPhone users: any tips to share?  Bonus points if they’re related to songwriting :)  Happy weekend, all!

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