Picking The Right Songwriting College Program For You

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Here’s How to Find the Right Fit!

The idea and thought of becoming a professional songwriter is a dream for many. However, it can be a reality too. Though not as straight of a career path as let’s say a nurse or police officer, it is possible to make your living from writing songs, many just don’t know where to start in finding the right songwriting college program.

Should you take an online course, should you wing it and just try to figure it out alone, or should you peruse a degree in commercial songwriting? Well, the truth is, there’s not really a right or wrong answer. What’s most important is what would work best for you? 

If you’re thinking about studying contemporary or popular music songwriting in any capacity, it probably means you’re serious about this. Studying something isn’t just about learning the topics but implementing them in a professional setting. So, if you’re considering spending some hard-earned money on a music program, I’m going to assume you already know how to write a song. 

Before considering a college songwriting program it’s important to practice writing and learning through your own mistakes. This will help you identify what you need most out of an educational experience when it comes to songwriting.  

Great songwriters are made by writing great songs.  The more you write, the better you will become. Frequency is key. The biggest advice I could give to a songwriter or artist for that matter would be to finish what you start. 

There’s no point in starting twelve different projects if none of them will ever be concluded. Learning to say something is finished was one of the things I personally struggled with throughout my career. 

Since we got all that out of the way, let’s jump into it. What should you look for in a songwriting program? This is a tough question to answer and I think it has to do with the specific type of program; each one is different! 

Below will be a few different ways to study songwriting and the things I think you should look to get out of each of them. 

Self-taught

There’s nothing wrong with teaching yourself. I do it on a daily basis and we should be proud of the things we learn on our own. However, if you’re looking to be a songwriter there are a few things to make sure you check off your list as you grow as a writer. 

As a writer, some of the things you need to focus on are music theory, developing melody, harmony and rhythm, song structure, the marriage of music and lyrics, demo production, legal ownership through copyright, and definitely licensing and publishing. These are a lot of topics that may be foreign to you, however, with enough research, you will find information and tutorials that can walk you through each of these topics. 

The best place to work yourself through this information would be blogs and YouTube. The amount of free information in the world today surprises me and it can be a great place to start. 

However, there’s always a catch to free information; and that catch is credibility and accuracy. With a random blog on the internet, you don’t know the background of the author or how familiar they are with the subject. The topics might be there but presentation and explanation is what you’re looking for, and sometimes that’s hard to find. 

Bachelors Degree

For decades Bachelors’s degrees and music schools like Thornton School of Music or the University of Miami were portrayed as the answer to a successful career. They sparked the formation of Commercial Songwriting degree programs at colleges throughout the country. 

There’s nothing wrong with getting a bachelor of music degree, however, a lot of the time is spent studying other subjects that are not necessarily related to songwriting. Remember to claim a major and be accepted into many programs you are judged on your first two years of college which is primarily general education courses. 

For some, the thought of another two years of high school before finally learning what you went there for isn’t for them, and that’s understandable. Large colleges do offer a network. I’m not saying a smaller trade school doesn’t; here at Dark Horse Institute we encourage our students to network with each other and learn how to work as a team. 

With a formal degree, you will spend four years with mainly the same group of people. More time offers you more opportunities to meet the right people who will help you grow as not only an adult but a writer. The biggest discipline when going the traditional 4-year route is consistency and focus. 

If you spend that time partying and living it up, your writing skills may not be where you think they should be when it’s time to walk across the stage. At the same time, you meet peers who have different career paths that may seem more interesting and deter you from staying the course and completing what you originally set out to do. 

It’s important to stay true to yourself and use every possible resource at your disposal throughout the four years you would be enrolled in a university. 

Secondary Education or Trade Schools

Over the last couple of decades, more and more trade schools focusing on specified skills have shown up. This is the path I took and I feel like it was best for me. I wasn’t keen on spending the first two years of my education studying general information I just learned in high school. I wanted to get right into it. 

With trade schools, the instructors are more times than not leaders in their industry and not just teachers. Curriculums are built around real-world applications and how to use the information from day one. It’s important to recognize how fast these courses tend to be.

Dark Horse Institute’s Composition and Songwriting course is 12 weeks and there is a lot of information to cover. Because of this, it’s even more important to be present and engaged. 

Trade schools offer communities of learners who are all interested in relatively the same career path. Because of this, it’s easy to make friends and build a network of individuals that you can grow with throughout your career. 

You need to look into the curriculum and decide if this information is worth paying for. In more instances than not, it is. Trade schools give you the tools blunt and upfront, it’s up to you to use those tools and build your career as a songwriter. 

With all this being said, once again, there’s no right answer. You need to pick what works best for you! 

There’s nothing wrong with going to a large four-year university. They offer great large communities of learners, just know it may take time before you get into what you’re actually there for. 

With teaching yourself, the biggest hurdle is finding quality information. And trade schools jump right in with faster programs. 

You want to look at what compliments the way that you learn. Remember why you got into songwriting, it’s something you love to do. 

Tie It All Together

If you are interested in a career in the Music Industry, Dark Horse Institute’s Composition and SongwritingAudio Engineering, or Music Business Programs are a great way to take things to the next level!

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