Getting Started

Which comes first - music or lyric? That's up to you! There's no wrong way to start writing a song. Whatever your method may be, you'll benefit from shaking things up sometimes.

This section gives you tips and techniques for finding your way from inspiration to action. You'll find practical information on creativity, destination writing, showing - not telling, finding titles, writing the chorus first and developing a story line. These videos will show you how to approach your craft with your eyes, ears, heart and mind wide open. No more writers block!

Getting Started

Video Lectures

Inspiration and Creativity

Creativity and Inspiration
How does creativity really work? Is it magic? Spiritual? or is it ... really work?
Writing Without Limits, Part 1: Destination Writing
Similar to object-writing, destination will help you use both sense-bound and non sense-bound language.
Where Songs Come From
The ways songs are born: how to take those beginning ideas and expand them into a theme, verse, or chorus.
Fact vs. Truth: Basing a Song on Real Life Events
Use your experiences to inspire you to write songs, but never let the facts get in the way of the truth.
Object Writing
Here's an exercise that will get you using imagery in your songs that an audience can relate to.
Writing Without Limits, Part 2: Toggling
In this popular Songwork video, Andrea Stolpe shows you how to use her method, "Toggling," to consciously switch back and forth between internal and external language in songs. Consider using "Toggling" to write your next song!

Songwriting Techniques

Writing from a Title
Exploring the benefits of starting with a title for your song.
Establishing a Journey
What makes a song exciting to listen to from start to finish?
Hooks, Titles and Payoffs
What is a hook exactly and where should you put it?
Writing Without Limits, Part 3: The Chorus
The third part of Andrea Stolpe's "Destination Writing" trilogy shows a simple technique for writing unique new choruses every day.

Music Theory

Theory with Bonnie: Part 4: Chords and Triads
Learn about major, minor, augmented, diminished and perfect triads.
Theory with Bonnie: Part 5: Diatonic Chords
Further your learning about "keys" by taking a closer look at "diatonic chords."
Theory with Bonnie: Part 3: Intervals, The Distance Between…
Learn about major, minor and perfect intervals and how they relate to chords.
Theory with Bonnie: Part 2: The Major Scale and Keys
Find out what makes a scale "major."
Theory with Bonnie, Part 9: Relative Minors
What exactly is the "relative minor" and how could you use it?
Theory with Bonnie, Part 8: Magic Chords
You ever hear songs that inexplicably make you want to cry? Well, it probably has to do with magic chords - those chords that simply make you feel the most.
Theory with Bonnie: Part 7: Chord Functions in Keys
When you say, I - IV - V, what does it all mean? It means functionality and feelings!
Theory with Bonnie, Part 10: More on Minors
This final video in Bonnie's 10 part series "Theory with Bonnie" expands on the ideas she began discussing in the Part 9 video about "Relative Minors." This is a pretty important subject so there's enough material for 2 classes - and more!
Theory with Bonnie: Part 6: The Circle of Fifths
Learn about the relationship between all the keys in this quick and easy to understand class about The Circle of 5ths.
Theory with Bonnie: Part 1: The Chromatic Scale and the Names of…
Learn about the chromatic scale: how it works, and what it looks and sounds like.
Introduction to Theory with Bonnie
If you're interested in learning a little more about music theory, check out Bonnie's Music Theory videos (there are 10 of them!)

About Being a Musician...

Goals For Writers: What are Yours?
Why do you write songs? Think about it and let the answer be your guide through your own development as a writer.
Heart vs. Craft, Or Both
Hopefully you don't have to choose between "heart" and "craft" when you write songs when you could be using a combination of both.
Living a Writer's Life
Are writers different than other people? If so, how might they honor and trust this aspect of themselves?
Quick Tips


Quick Tip: Collaboration Scenarios
In this Quick Tip, Steve and Bonnie have a conversation about what they've observed about being "songwriters" writing with "artists" versus writing with other "songwriters." These are different types of collaboration scenarios, and being aware of this, can make you more prepared to get the most out of your session. Also, try to identify the difference between your "artist writer" mode and your "songwriter writer" or "facilitator" mode, so that you know which one (or both!) comes more naturally. Can you be either one, or both in one session?

Songwriting Techniques

Quick Tips: Process
Your "process" is the way you get through the process of starting and finishing a song. Every artist or artisan has a "process" which is honed and relied upon to complete one's art. And usually in the early years of writing, everyone's process is fairly unique. This one process is what is relied upon to write most songs. Typically, as more skills (and more varied skills) are developed, more than just one process emerges. In this class, Bonnie points out a variety of ways to get a song started and finished, while also briefly pointing out what has worked best for her.

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