I’m excited to announce something that I’ve decided to try this fall called the Songwriting Game. I would love to have anybody who is interested in writing Christian-themed songs or is already a songwriter join me!
The best way to get better at any craft is to practice, practice, practice. Professional songwriters will tell you that they write a large number of songs that never go anywhere for every song that gets released on an album. Maybe you’ve heard of the 10,000 hour rule which says that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve mastery of a skill.
To get more practice in songwriting, I decided to challenge myself to write a song each week this fall. While I was thinking about that idea, I ran across a songwriting club in Greensboro called the “Monday Morning 300 Club.” This is a group of songwriters who write a song each week and have to upload it before 3:00am each Monday. It is in turn based on an idea started by Bob Schneider simply called “The Song Game” where songwriters nationwide write a song a week. This group features popular modern artists like Ben Folds and Jason Mraz. You can read more about this game by following one of the links below.
So….I thought – why not create a group like this for writing Christian themed songs? I’m going to try this challenge regardless of whether I’m the only one, but it would be a lot more fun to have some others to share the experience with. And I think you could enjoy this even if you’ve never tried to write a song before.
Here are the rules:
- A “song” for purposes of this game consists of lyrics, chords, and melody with a start and a finish. For this game, the songs must be Christian-themed, although we can be “liberal” with that definition. Writing a love song for your sweetheart is okay as long as you mention how God brought you together or something like that.
- Each week, in rotation (in alphabetical order by last name), each participant gets to decree a ground rule for the songs that week. It might be a certain word or phrase that has to be used, a theme (God’s faithfulness, for example), a Scripture reference, a certain key or chord progression, a title, or anything you can think of. Try not to be too crazy or difficult with this – remember that some people will want to possibly use these songs for something else later.
- Recordings can be as orchestrated, arranged, and produced as you want them to be but the song’s the thing. An mp3 recorded on your phone is just fine. Just remember that the songs will be online for the rest of the group to hear, but no one else (unless we want to share our own stuff with the world.)
- You’re responsible for emailing me your song each week by Monday at midnight. I will put them online Tuesday morning and we’ll announce the ground rule for the next week’s songs. (We are doing Monday night so that pastors who have the day off on Mondays can use that time to finish their songs.)
- If you don’t get a song done that week, you owe the pot $5.00. At the end of the game in November, we’ll either donate the accumulated money to the PGBC worship ministry or buy dinner for the participants and have a fun night of fellowship. The money is not the important thing – it’s just a way of keeping you motivated to turn a song in every week.
- If you get into this and realize it’s not for you, you are free to quit at any time with no public shaming and no further financial contributions to the pot. You will still be welcome to join if we start it up again in the future.
- No collaborations.
- You can stockpile ideas over the course of the game, but please, no ideas should be incorporated that were generated before the competition. You’re on your honor.
- The game will run for 16 weeks. You will get your first song assignment on Tuesday, August 11th and turn in your last song on Monday night, November 23rd. Each player gets two “free passes” that can be used for weeks where life throws you a full plate and you can’t get a song done.
Q: I don’t have access to any kind of recording equipment or any way to get my song on a computer, so I can’t play….
A: The point of this game is not to release a polished, mixed, and mastered track in a week (although if you are that good and have that much time, more power to you!) You can record your song on your phone and email it to me without any shame. If you want to hand me a cassette tape each week – we’ll make it work.
Q: What if I’ve never written a song before?
A: The best way to start writing songs is to start writing a song – and this game will force you to take the time to do that. I would recommend the following books which were a big help to me when I first started:
- Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting: 126 Proven Techniques for Writing Songs That Sell by Robin Frederick
- Writing Music for Hit Songs by Jai Josefs
Q: My songs are not going to be that good.
A: The whole idea of the game is to get better. Even the best songwriters don’t sit down and write a hit song every time. It is a given that there will be a lot of bad songs turned in by all of us in the course of this game. But hopefully there will be some great ideas and great songs birthed as well!
If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them – I’m sure I didn’t think of everything and I’m sure there will be things that come up along the way that have to be ironed out. But the idea here is to have fun, write some songs, and become better songwriters.
If you are interested in participating in this or have more questions or simply want to know more, just let me know. If you know of someone else that you think might be interested in something like this, feel free to share this post with them and have them contact me. Deadline for getting on board will be Thursday, July 23rd, because I want to have this settled before I leave for my mission trip to Jamaica the next day.
Let’s write some songs!