Ready to go beyond the basics?

Try out one of these songwriting challenges:


Do you have an idea for a songwriting challenge?

           



WRITE A SONG WITH A COLLABORATOR

When you work with someone else to write a song, it's called collaboration. The songwriters are called collaborators. Collaboration is sometimes hard because you don't always get to do things exactly your own way. But your friend will have some great ideas too, and together you can come up with something you never would have imagined on your own.

And besides, writing with a friend is really fun!

Famous Example: Let's Get Together

The songwriters who wrote the song Let's Get Together were two brothers, Richard and Robert Sherman. Together, they wrote so many great songs, including all the songs from Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book (two of my other all-time favorites). The Sherman Brothers wrote hit songs together for over 50 YEARS!

Don't know what to write about? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Write about your favorite thing you like to do with your friend(s)
  • Write about an adventure you and your friend(s) wish you could have together
  • Write about the things you have in common and why you are friends

Some things to think about:

  • Always listen to your friend's ideas
  • Always share your own ideas
  • Always be kind when you are working together
  • Always celebrate your work!
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WRITE A FALLING SONG

Sometimes a song's melody can help to tell the story of the song. If a song is about climbing a mountain, the melody might go from LOW to HIGH to help paint the picture of what is happening in the song. Click here for a good example in Climb Every Mountain from the Sound of Music.

See if you can write a song where both the melody and the words are falling at the same time.

Famous Example: Ring Around the Rosy

Ring around the rosy
Pocket full of posies
Ashes, ashes
We all fall down

What happens in the last line? The words are about falling, but also the melody falls from HIGH to LOW.

Some things to think about:

Your falling song could be about anything: a cat falling from a tree, a sleeping boy falling out of bed, roses falling from someone's arms, or even falling in love. Just make sure that the melody also falls from HIGH to LOW or LOW to HIGH.

Bonus: Add some actions. In "Ring Around the Rosy," the singers fall straight down. But if your song is about falling leaves, how would you fall? In a straight line, or slowly, drifting side to side? How about if you fell down a hill...would it be more of a tumbling action? Have fun!

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WRITE A SONG WITH A BRIDGE

On our Songwriting Basics page, you can learn about VERSE and CHORUS which are the building blocks of popular music. Lots of modern songs also have a BRIDGE. Just like a real-life bridge that takes you from one side to another, a musical bridge brings to to a completely different place in the song. 

Famous Example: Lean On Me by Bill Withers

Here's an example. Listen to Bill Withers singing one of my favorite songs, Lean On Me. Pay close attention and see if you can hear how the melody (the part you can hum) and the rhythm change the minute he starts singing "Call on me, brother, when you need a hand..."

Did you hear how the music went to a completely different place? That's the bridge!

Here are some things to think about :

  1. Take the melody someplace new. Is the chorus low? Sing high during the bridge. Take us someplace new. Change the mood!
  2. Take the rhythm someplace new. Go faster, or slower, add some claps like in Lean On Me, some pauses, or even some foot stomping if necessary!
  3. Don't forget to come back to the chorus, or another verse in the end.

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WRITE A BLUES SONG

We've all felt down in the dumps. Lost a dog. Lost a friend. The sun won't come out. Bike broke again. That's the blues. The deep down underground blues.

This Songwriting Challenge is about gathering up all that gloom and doom and putting it into a song. A BLUES SONG. I love to sing the blues. There's a funny thing about it...no matter how bad I feel to begin with, singing the blues always makes me feel better.

Here are some things to think about :

It's all about feeling it.

  • What's got you down?
  • Tell it like you're telling it to your best friend.
  • Put some soul into it.

Try to write an AAB Blues.

  1. An AAB blues has 3 lines per verse.
  2. The first line is repeated twice.
  3. The third line rhymes with the first two lines.

Famous Example: Lost Your Head Blues by Bessie Smith.

When you were lonesome, I treated you kind
When you were lonesome, I treated you kind
But since you've got money, it has changed your mind

Days are lonesome, nights are so long
Days are lonesome, nights are so long
I'm a good gal, but I just been treated wrong

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WRITE A LIST SONG

When songwriters are trying to get an idea across, they often use specific examples to help the listener know exactly what they are talking about. Some songs take this even farther. The whole song can become a list of examples, and we call it a List Song. A list song usually gives a list of examples in each verse, followed by a line that sums it all up.

Here are  some things to think about:

  1. Think of one sentence or phrase that sums up what you want to say. Use this as your chorus.
     Famous examples: "These are a few of my favorite things," " Let's fall in love," "These foolish things remind me of you," "It's the end of the world as we know it"
  2. How many things can you think of that fit with your sum-up sentence?
    See if you can fill a whole page with examples.
  3.  Pick the best ones and arrange them in verses.  
  4.  Do you want it to rhyme?

Famous Example: My Favorite Things by Rogers & Hammerstein.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;
Brown paper packages tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Each verse is a list of the songwriter's favorite things, ending in a sum-up line.

Listen to the PS22 Chorus sing the whole song

 

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WRITE A COLORFUL SONG

In Gary Golio's book, Sounds Like a Rainbow: a Story of Young Jimi Hendrix, he writes that Jimi tried to "paint with sound." Each different sound was like a new color in a box of paints. A series of high-pitched screeches might make you feel one way. A low, steady note repeated over and over might feel completely different. Colors, just like sounds, can make us feel things. How do you feel when you see a bright, vibrant red? How about a pale, light blue? Or a deep brown?


Here are  some things to think about:

  1. What emotions do you want the listener to feel?
    Will it be a happy song? Sad? Lonely? Excited? Hopeful?
  2. What colors make you feel those same emotions?
    Does green give you energy? Does yellow make you happy? Does pink make you tingly? Does blue make you feel calm?
  3. Can you find ways to bring those colors into the song?

Famous Example: Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix


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WRITE A PICTURE SONG

Sometimes, songs just pop into our heads when we aren't even trying. Other times, it can be hard to come up with an idea for a song. One good way to come up with an idea for a song is to look at a picture, and try to tell a story about that picture. Remember that a story has a BEGINNING, MIDDLE, and END. Your song should have these three elements too. Can you write or sing a song about one of these pictures?



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