Review of Berklee College of Music’s Songwriting MOOC

Berklee College of Music‘s Songwriting is the third MOOC in the Modern Musician Specialisation on Coursera. Absolutely the best thing about this course is the instructor, Pat Pattison. In this six week course, he will transform the way you think about writing lyrics.

He covers a complete development model for songs, starting from using a box model to develop a concept, through rhyming schemes to optimising stressed and unstressed syllables to get exactly the effect you want.

What I liked about this course is that it uses a lot of examples, so you can see and hear the effect that each technique has on a song. One section that is particularly impressive and inspirational is a recorded masterclass in which Pat listens to a student’s song and helps her transform it into a much more effective piece just by making more effective use of rhyming and phrasing.

To get the most of out of this course, you need to participate. That will involve being brave enough to put your work in front of other students via Soundcloud, or a similar service. I am not a great singer, so I was nervous about singing my own work and letting other students listen to it. However, most students understand that they are critiquing the songwriting and not the singing/playing, and I found that the peer review environment was very supportive and encouraging.

Because, in most weeks of the course, you are expected to do some work on a song, you will want to ensure you set aside enough time each week to do the work, record  and upload it. If you are able to do that, I can thoroughly recommend this course for musicians of all levels of experience.


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