See more hilarity at Wrong Hands.
Songwriters sometimes claim they can’t sing. But science says it’s a skill that can be taught, much like learning to play an instrument.
According to a study by Northwestern University, the skill of singing accurately can be taught and developed. And it’s a use it or lose it proposition. You have to exercise the singing muscle regularly.
And singing is it’s own reward. Who doesn’t love singing in the shower or singing along with the radio in the car? Without even trying, while singing for pleasure, you are getting the regular exercise, not to mention all the other benefits of singing: increased oxygenation, improved heart health, memory, self-confidence, increased IQ (I’m not making this up), improved reading and verbal skills. Read more in the Interlude.
In short, singing — no matter how bad — is a good thing. In fact, it might just make you better. Don’t let the haters keep you down.
Does music have a positive effect on your brain? It does according to a post I found on Bandzoogle, Twitter and Collective Evolution.
Music improves visual and verbal skills for children as young as one. And it keeps an aging brain healthy. It can boost your immune system and improve your sleep quality.
Read about all seven: Collective Evolution
James Taylor posted this intriguing lesson on tuning a guitar.
Where are you right now? I mean both literally and emotionally. Stop and notice what is on your mind right now. You can take your frame of mind at this moment and put it into a song.
How are you feeling? Are you bored, tired, frustrated, content, distracted, ecstatic, lonely, excited, surprised? Whatever you’re currently feeling or thinking about (bills, co-workers, love life, aches and pains, zits) is enough to begin writing a song about.
You know the expression ‘write what you know’? Well no one knows your feelings better than you. And I bet some of your thoughts and feelings can be turned into a song that will be relatable by others who share some of those same feelings.
Next time you’re stuck for a song topic, start where you are.
I had to share this video that combines songwriting and Lake Street Dive. If you haven’t heard LSD, check their many many live videos on YouTube.
Songs performed and discussed:
“You Go Down Smooth” (Olson) begins at 5:20
“Look What a Mistake” (Price) begins at 20:30
“Seventeen” (Kearney) begins at 46:20
“I Don’t Care About You” (Calabrese) begins at 1:06:05
“Let Me Roll It” (McCartney) begins at 1:51:35
After meeting while students at NEC in the early 2000s, Lake Street Dive has catapulted to stardom. NPR notes that they blend “jazz, folk, and pop in dangerously charming fashion.” In this workshop, the band—vocalist Rachael Price ’07, trumpet/guitar player Mike Olson ’05, stand-up bassist Bridget Kearney ’08 Tufts/NEC, and drummer Mike Calabrese ’07—returned to NEC to share its wit and songwriting expertise with students.
What happens when this guy puts an iPhone inside his guitar?
Scientists watched brain activity using FMRI and PET scanners. Multiple areas of the brain light up when the subject is listening to music. Even more so for a musician playing music. While playing, musicans’ brains are “simultaneously processing different information in intricate, interrelated and astonishingly fast sequences” according to neuro-scientists.
To watch the whole 4 minute Ted video, click here.
Last week I happened on to an interesting niche of songwriting. I saw a fb post wherein a casual friend mentioned she needs a theme song for her life. This was part of a longer post, but something in me clicked when I read the bit about a theme song.
I immediately offered to write her theme song, if she was serious. I know her well enough to guess what she was after: something uplifting, empowering, maybe like a rock anthem or a mantra set to music (a chant?), but with a good beat that makes you want to move. It turns out I was pretty close. She was into it. I didn’t charge anything, I just wanted to see if I could do it.
Somehow it all just flowed easily and a week later I had a complete song, based on my knowledge of my friend, my intuition and some ideas she gave me.
I was surprised how fast it came together and was very happy with it musically and lyrically. And, fortunately, my friend loves it! That’s a win/win. Because I don’t refer to her by name in the song, I have been able to use it, singing it a live shows and it’s going over well. I always tell the story, giving her credit for the idea and for providing me with some pithy lyrics (which became the heart of the chorus).
The last time I sang it, someone came up afterward and asked if I would write her theme song. She said I should market this and she called it branding.
Have you ever heard of anyone doing this? Let me know if you’ve done it or know someone who does.
The only similar thing I’ve ever done is a song I co-wrote one time, years ago. A reader of this blog contacted me. He had written a poem for his fiance that he read during their wedding ceremony and he hired me to put it to music for their 10th anniversary. That long distance collaboration worked out well, too.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress and after I get permission, I’ll post some of the music.