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Songwriters: Courses & Sidebars

During the past 5 years, I've created and led 16 original Songwriting Courses, in community education classrooms in southeastern Michigan as well as livestreaming with songwriters around the world.  These classes incorporate everything I've learned in my decades as a songwriter, and as the creator and host of the Songwriter Stories podcast.

Not sure about committing to a weekly appointment?  Register for a two-week trial.  Or for more personalized songwriting support, you can schedule a 1:1 Songwriter Sidebar.  Read on for details on both!

Secrets to Better Songwriting Courses Classes by Songwriter Dave Caruso

Songwriting Courses

In this inspiring collection of affordable courses, I'll share the tips, insight and resources you'll need to turn your ideas into songs.  Every week we'll explore, discuss, write and perform lyrics and music while hanging out with other songwriters.  Share your songs with the class in our weekly songwriters circle!  You'll find the group dynamic is super supportive and encouraging, no matter your level of experience or confidence.  Jump right in -- the water's warm!

-- Dave Caruso, Songwriter / Instructor


Course List
(Courses are offered on a rotating basis, remotely or in SE Michigan classrooms.)

Register for the current class session today!

Songwriting Essentials
(Experience is optional.)  We'll focus on writing catchy titles, strong first lines, verses, and choruses.  We'll learn about the components of a song,  how they fit together, and how simple song forms can help us write more quickly and easily.  You'll be encouraged to create different song components and share them with the class each week.  Course FAQ

Creative Songwriting
(Intermediate-Advanced.)  Weekly tips and ideas for better rhyming, more interesting schemes, writing better music and lyrics, overcoming writer's block, avoiding songwriting ruts and making your songs more memorable.  Each week includes creative instruction and inspirational songwriting assignments, so you can write a song and play it for the class the following week.  Course FAQ

Techniques of Successful Songwriters
Each week, we'll explore music and lyric techniques used by notable pop songwriters.  We'll listen to songs that demonstrate these ideas, you'll write a song that combines one or more of these techniques with a suggested theme.  Optionally to share your new song with the class the following week.  Course FAQ

Writing Music for Your Lyrics

For songwriters who find lyric writing easy, but have trouble writing good music to go with their words.  We'll find inherent rhythms within your phrases, then use production models, guitar, keyboard, bass, and other techniques to explore possible melodies, chord changes, bass lines, beats and styles for your song.  Every week, show the class what you've written.  (Music experience helps, but isn't required.  Familiarity with a guitar or keyboard is recommended.)  Course FAQ

Writing Lyrics for Your Music

For songwriters who feel that music is their strength, but who struggle to come up with good lyrics.  We'll explore different techniques for developing compelling first lines, catchy titles, interesting themes & stories, and how to apply these in your verses, choruses, and bridges. Play your new songs for the class and get positive feedback.  Course FAQ

Collaborative Songwriting
(Intermediate-Advanced.)  Expand your songwriting skills through weekly units about different aspects of collaborating, audio examples, live demonstration, and writing assignments. Sign up with your own writing partner or co-write words and music with classmates and the instructor as partners and in teams.  Perform your collaborations and for helpful comments.  Course FAQ

Rewriting to Improve Your Songs
(Intermediate-Advanced.)  Free yourself from the perceived constraints of your early and unfinished drafts.  This course will let you rewrite your songwriting heroes, rewrite your own material and learn the secrets to how I've rewritten mine.  We'll focus on making your songwriting more adaptable, flexible and easy.  Sing or play your rewritten songs for the class for supportive comments.  Course FAQ

Write 7 Songs in 8 Weeks

(Intermediate-Advanced.)  Compose a song on a different assigned topic or theme every week.  Experiment with different writing techniques.  Brainstorm your premise and develop your song form during class.  Play your song the following week and get immediate, constructive feedback.  Course FAQ

Write 7 Songs in 8 Weeks (Session B)

(Intermediate-Advanced.)  New topics!  Compose a song on a different assigned topic or theme every week.  Experiment with different writing techniques.  Brainstorm your premise and develop your song form during class.  Play your song the following week and get immediate, constructive feedback.  Course FAQ

Songwriting With a Sense of Humor

(A basic understanding of songwriting is encouraged.)  Each week, we'll hear and discuss songs that are witty, nonsensical, slapstick, storytelling, parodies, politically charged, outrageous and more.  Then, using a wide range of comic techniques, we'll pen humorous songs of our own, which students can share during class.  Course FAQ

Music Theory & Ear Training for Songwriters
Understand how rhythm, scales, intervals and chords relate to melody, harmony and chord changes.  The more you know about how music works, the more context you'll gain for informed listening, and the more tools you'll have for composing and arranging.  Reviewing the materials and dedicated practice time between classes will be essential to your results.  Reading music is not required.  Course FAQ

Promoting and Marketing Your Songs
Get your music heard and noticed!  A detailed look at how to promote your songs on web sites & social media, plus how to submit music to reviewers, blogs, radio shows & podcasts. Includes a crash course in graphics.  Course FAQ

Arranging for Songwriters

This course is all about the presentation of your songs.  As we cover the elements of style, instrumentation, arrangement and music production, we'll apply these techniques to your own songs which you can share with the class for positive comments.  Course FAQ

Songwriting CSI
Each week, we'll use forensic listening to examine the DNA of a variety of killer hits.  Then, using similar modus operandi and the evidence we uncovered, you'll return to your own rhyme lab and write a new song
for constructive input from your CSI teammates the following week.  Course FAQ

Songwriting Course Sampler
(Intermediate-Advanced.)  Each week, we'll cover material from different courses in Dave's series "The Secrets to Better Songwriting."  You'll gain valuable insight and experience while exploring a variety of useful songwriting topics.  Includes creative instruction, audio examples, songwriting assignments and your own live performance. 
Course FAQ

Writing To Chord Changes
(For guitarists & keyboardists.)  Each week, we'll focus on a different topic related to songwriting using chord changes. Chord topics (with pop song examples) will include: Types of Chords, Popular Chord Changes, Circle of Fifths, Bass-Leading Chord Changes, Suspended Chords, Open String (or Open Voiced) Chords and much more.  As always, we'll write songs using the chord changes and play them for the class.  Course FAQ

Writing With Intervals & Advanced Chords
(For guitarists & keyboardists.)  Perfect for songwriters who want to push themselves to write, while expanding their sound pallet with chords that are less ordinary and more interesting.  We'll write using intervals, minor chords, 6th chords, 7th chords (major, minor & dominant), diminished, augmented, & non-diatonic chords, and more, with suggested lyric themes..  Optionally play your new songs for the class for supportive discussion.  Course FAQ

Melody-First Songwriting
Melody is the most important component for making a song popular and enduring.  This course is designed to help you write more engaging melodies. We’ll use proven melodic techniques and pop music examples to help you write up to 7 singable, catchy songs and lyrics.  You'll receive a PDF of each week's class material.
 Course FAQ

Songwriting for Guitarists

Each week, we’ll discuss and write melody and chords from a guitarist’s perspective, and question how a guitar’s unique layout, tunings, performance techniques and accessories can influence our writing process. You’ll be encouraged to try 7 songwriting assignments and optionally play your new songs in class. BYO guitar.  Course FAQ

Songwriting for Keyboardists

Each week, we’ll discuss and write melody and chords from a keyboardist’s perspective, and question how a keyboard’s unique layout, performance techniques and samples can influence our writing process. You’ll be encouraged to try 7 songwriting assignments and optionally play your new songs in class.  Course FAQ

Register for the current session today!


Songwriter Sidebar

With my half-hour Songwriter Sidebars on Zoom, Google Meet, Messenger or Facetime, I can help you break through issues like unfinished songs, writers block, being dissatisfied with your writing, or just wanting to add new skills to your songwriting bag of tricks. 

Bring your songwriting challenges and we'll apply proven techniques to make songwriting less mysterious and more satisfying.  In short, we'll tackle whatever's been bogging down your writing.  As a song doctor, I don't ask for any writing credit, so your songs remain your own.

-- Dave Caruso, Songwriter / Instructor

Book your Songwriter Sidebar today!

Course & Sidebar FAQ

How will I attend a class or sidebar?
After you register, you and other members of the class will be added to a livestream group which works just like Zoom, Google Meet, Messenger or Facetime..  Dave will get in touch to help orient you so you can hit the ground running.  Once classes begin, you'll see and hear Dave and all members of the class, and they'll see and hear you.

How long are classes and sidebars?
Classes are one-hour long and they meet weekly.  Each Songwriter Sidebar is 30-minutes long.

Do I need to understand computers to join an online class?
Nope.  If you can stream movies, your Internet connection is fast enough to join our classes with your smartphone, tablet or computer.  Smartphones and tablets have the capability built right in.  Most newer computers do too, with a webcam and built-in microphone.

What materials will I receive from the courses?
Each registrant will receive PDF handouts, examples and assignments from every week of class.

Do I have to write an entire song every single week?
Nope!  You'll write whatever you're able, according to the assignment.  For some weeks, that might mean you'll only write a verse or a chorus.  Other weeks, you might be assigned only one section of a song.  And during the final week of class, no assignment will be given.

Isn't writing on demand hard?
While it might seem intimidating at first, most songwriters find that writing with a certain technique to an interesting theme is actually EASIER than trying to pick a new song out of thin air.  Also, it will improve your ability to collaborate and to start or finish your own songs.

What if I only write lyrics (or music)?
No problem!  Unless the course title is specifically aimed at writing one or the other, you can concentrate on your writing strength, your writing weakness, or both.  It all depends on what you want from the class.

Do I HAVE to play my songs for the class?
Nope!  You won't be pressured to play for the class, but songwriters repeatedly tell us that our virtual songwriters circle is what they enjoyed most about taking our courses.  It's a supportive audience and a great sounding board for your music.  It's also a great way to find collaborators and musical co-conspirators.

Can I try out a course for just a few weeks and see if it's right for me?
Yes!  When you register, you'll get a choice: If you register for the total number of weeks, you're all set.  If you register for the "Two-Week Trial," you'll be able to return to our shop and buy an "Add-On" to complete the course while it's in session.

Are these courses mostly lecture?
Not at all!  Class time is split between learning techniques, listening to examples, discussion, and performances by members of the class.

When are these courses offered?
We alternate courses all throughout the year in our Shop.  Some courses may be offered more often than others.  When we add new courses, they'll appear on this page.

When are the Songwriter Sidebars offered?
Once you register for a sidebar, Dave will contact you to set up a mutually agreeable date and time, based on your schedule and time zone.

Register for the current session today!