This is a great one, written by Matthew Wang.
Congrats on your book, Music, Lyrics, and Life: A Field Guide For the Advancing Songwriter. Can you talk about some of your former songwriting students, some of whom are interviewed in the book?
First off, I’m grateful that so many of them came out to be a part of the book—and that includes you, my friend. I really think of us as a team, and I spend a lot of time trying to find opportunities to connect former students to each other. There’s an Instagram account dedicated to the amazing stuff everybody’s doing, and there’s also a Facebook page where we share job opportunities, gear, etc…, but that one’s secret.
Can songwriting be taught?
Partially, yes. And to a specific subsection of the songwriting community, absolutely yes.
Of course, there are the people who walk into my class with an innate gift of how melody and structure flows, and for them, sometimes all I can do is encourage them to finish as much as possible, and to challenge them to stretch into areas they hadn’t considered. Which, frankly, is a lot.
But the writers I can help most obviously are the ones who are maybe not as gifted naturally, but who make up for it by being hell-bent to be a songwriter. They’re early for class; they set up weekly office hours; they apply for all the internships; they co-write with everyone they possibly can; they wake up in the morning wondering how they can get better. I work hard to fill up their toolkits with all the stuff I put in the book, and their songs improve drastically by the time the semester ends.
I won’t lie: Tears get shed, and not just by students. It’s deeply gratifying for everyone involved.