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Online Course

How to Write Your First Song

The University of Sheffield via FutureLearn

(97)
Found in Music Courses
  • Provider FutureLearn
  • Cost Free Online Course (Audit)
  • Session Upcoming
  • Language English
  • Certificate $69 Certificate Available
  • Effort 3 hours a week
  • Duration 6 weeks long
  • Learn more about MOOCs

Taken this course? Share your experience with other students. Write review

Overview

Ever wanted to write a song, but not known how?

This course will introduce you to the tools and techniques you need to write your first song.

Each week, using specially-commissioned lyrics, we’ll build up a song and encourage you to do the same. World-renowned musician, Martin Simpson, will use the same words and techniques and we’ll check in with him each week for inspiration and guidance on the songwriting process.

We’ll also talk to experts in music and psychology as well as established musicians and songwriters to find out what makes a song successful.

Whether you’re a complete novice who has never written a song in their life, a budding amateur looking to develop further skills or an accomplished professional brushing up on the basics, this course will deliver comprehensive practical and theoretical knowledge to help set you on your path.

While it will be useful to have access to a musical instrument this is not a requirement, you can participate in the course just using your voice or with freely available music software.

Taught by

Adam White

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Reviews for FutureLearn's How to Write Your First Song Based on 97 reviews

  • 5 stars 80%
  • 4 stars 18%
  • 3 star 0%
  • 2 stars 2%
  • 1 star 0%

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  • 1
Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
I am sorry to leave a rather negative review. I stayed through the course and I am trying to put some of the advice into practice, but in the end, I didn’t find the course particularly engaging or effective. The course is heavily based on music theory, much of which is skimmed over too quickly if...
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
An excellent course which I've very much enjoyed. Wrote a song though didn't share it as I just can't sing! I've been a sax player for some years and love improvising but have found traditional chordal theory too overwhelming for my brain so do it instinctively. But I must admit the section of this course on chord progressions really helped me. Not only with playing the sax but with enriching the songs that I write. I've always been aware of their simplistic chord progressions but never really known how to correct that. I wrote a song called Their Town right at the beginning of the course and as the weeks have gone on it's become enriched with chord progressions that I'm really proud of. So thanks Adam and everyone. I look forward to developing my skills further. In particular have bought a book called Chord Progressions: Theory and Practice by Dan Fox and Dick Weissman and chord sequences are now really beginning to make sense!
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
It is a very well-made and generous course for those who are trying to communicate their ideas by writing songs and song lyrics.

However, I found that this course is specifically made for people who don't know a lot about songwriting in general, not for those searching for the right way to produce their song (an example would be those who are looking forward to learning how electronic softwares work, learning about wave shapes or reverb, etc).

But it is still an opportunity not to be missed to learn or even re-learn the basic ingredients of the songs, and the layering of different aspects of it.

I finally want to thank everybody who was involved in this course, and a huge thank you to The University of Sheffield for making this course. I will definitely be looking forward to seeing other powerful courses on FutureLearn like this one.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
I am very greatful to Adam and the team. I have just started playing an instrument (in my retirement) and could not understand music theory.

This course has clarified the mystery of how music works. I cannot believe how much difference it has made in just six weeks.

I now understand what I am seeing and hearing when I learn or (unbelievably) compose/construct a piece. I am only allowed, by my children and grandchildren, nephews nieces, friends and neighbours to sing in private. Despite this I enjoy putting words to the chords and notes I string together, they now sound like music, whereas before they sounded like my singing.

I am so happy.

Thankyou

RK
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Pam G
by Pam completed this course.
Fabulous course. The emphasis is on music rather than lyrics. The 'lyrics' are provided by poet Matt Black, to use as you see fit. The song writing process is broken down into its basic elements with wonderful interviews with performers and video demonstrations. There are also excellent interviews with songwriters and producers, And Martin Simpson, folk singer/songwriter and stunning guitarist, writes his song along with you, laying bare his process. You'll listen to wide variety of music, and you can share your own music with fellow students.
2 people found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
I found the six weeks course very enjoyable and instructive. I had already written and recorded several songs, but I had never had any instruction before. The course has provided me with a better understanding of the process of producing a good song.

I now feel more confident about writing my next song with a number of extra techniques for improving the quality of a song.

The structure of the course and the quality the presentations were of a high standard.

When I started the course I had no intention of upgrading it, but I did so.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
David P
by David completed this course.
The tutors, interviewees/artistes and general advice to/encouragement of participants (students) were always helpful, inspiring and positive. I found the musical theory the hardest part of the course to grasp and understand, which is where other students comments and advice was always useful. Most...
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
I highly and heartily recommend How To Write Your First Song from the University of Sheffield on FutureLearn, whatever your musical ability. Your skills are sure to grow over the 6 weeks that encompass this course. A creative activity does wonders to your health and mental wellbeing. This is felt almost...
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Kathleen L
Kathleen completed this course.
This course has taught me a lot about writing music to go with lyrics, and it's enabled me to have fun composing melodies using free online software and sharing them online. A few people were disappointed because the title doesn't make it clear that this course doesn't teach lyric-writing but, because...
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
A very high quality & enjoyable course. The tutors, presenters and guest musicians are all excellent - well-informed & engaging personalities. We were exposed to a broad range of musical styles and influences, from the weekly playlists for listening & discussion, and the guests musicians talking about...
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
Great course covering lots of ground. You don't need to be able to write or read music, though if you play an instrument it helps! The vdeos were good, not only the tutor's videos, but those from songwriters - how they go about the process of writing songs. There are playlists each week to emphasise...
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Sylvia S
by Sylvia is taking this course right now.
When I first signed up for this course I was so jazzed. I thought it was for people like me who have never written a lyric, who has no concept as to where to start, no real music background. So I thought that this would be fun for me. Now reading more into it most people have so much know how, have done it before and are wonderfully talented which is fantastic but I have none of that. This is just a dream for me to write my first lyric. I would totally get lost in concept. I would be that person placed in Wall Street where everyone is bidding and yelling, holding up cards, doing hand signs. I would just want to climb high above it all to watch and learn yet it all moves too fast that I would be left with visions of the act but no knowledge of it. If you have some know how and instrument background this would be fantastic for you. I wish I did. Maybe I can try my hand at learning to play guitar and then move in this direction.

Was this review helpful to you? Yes
David P
David completed this course.
The course starts slowly and builds at just the right pace, the amount of work you put in is up to you but if you work on the song around the weeks topic it is probably easier, I didn’t do that and am now backtracking, revising little bits to refresh my memory.

I haven’t used the lyrics provided but worked on the theme of My Town in my own way. Perhaps a less focused poem would be better. Adam is a great communicator and the interviews with musicians were very helpful. I would have liked a bit more detail, chords etc and more weekly visits from Martin Simpson. I didn’t fully understand or find the link to hear other students songs on I cloud, perhaps this could be highlighted more.

I am still working on my song and need to look back on a couple of the weeks. I will also have a go using the poem as well in the coming weeks. Thank you for a really well structured, entertaining and inspirational course.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
This course was really well presented . It covered all the principal elements of music in a way that was clearly understandable. The staging and course layout was highly commendable.

The demonstrations and activities, interviews to accompany the educational instruction really brought everything to life.

The insights into the songwriting process; how to use texts; scansion; melodic phrases; rhythmic units; scales; modes; keys; to understand the techniques used so as to find your own voice and express what you want to say were all excellent.

One thing, however, that could have been given more attention was tempo. It was mentioned but there was no clear outline or attempt to represent tempo or , I might add, expressive markings in music. This was quite a serious omission!

Overall, though, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
A really interesting course on many levels. I enjoyed the weekly selection of tracks to illustrate the focus of each week's learning, which has really enriched both my learning and how I listen to music. Having the opportunity to hear professional musicians discuss their work was a great opportunity too, and added extra interest and motivation to get writing.

The core of the course was interesting, thought provoking, and provided a good balance between theory and practice, with discussion points from other learners often providing interesting further links to follow up.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the course and learned a great deal in relation to my main aim of developing my early song writing, I also find myself motivated to improve my playing, and am looking to learn more about music theory.

Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
Fantastic course. I started this course as a lyricist only with no idea how to write a song. The course has given me an intro into writing music and the basic knowledge to start creating a song. I regret that I don’t play an instrument as I would have gotten so much more from the course had I been able to add accompaniment. It has made me determined to master at least one instrument. It has also introduced me to apps such as Hookpad and to SoundCloud although I’m still trying to master them, too. Thank you to everyone involved in the course. I know from writing management courses myself just how much work is involved in bringing it altogether as a structured, cohesive and flowing learning experience for the student. I would expect nothing less from the OU. Thank you.

Carole Tucker
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
This course has definitely de-mystified songwriting for me. It is a brilliant course, and I would recommend it to all musicians who have never written a song, as well as those those who have taken tentative steps into writing but are unsure what to make of it all. It is clearly structured, with achievable learning outcomes and all the necessary information to start writing your own song.

Adam highlights the most important things about songwriting again and again. In addition to form, melody, rhythm, scansion and all the other musical considerations, Adam reminds us that the most important thing in music is to experiment, have fun, and keep writing. It can be so easy to forget it when thinking of all the different components that make up a song. Thank-you Adam for reminding me of this.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
This was an excellent course - the first I've taken with FutureLearn and I was very impressed with the quality of the materials and the passion of the contributors. Very good teaching, and inspirational to hear the work of other learners. The course outline suggests that it takes 3 hrs of study per week, but it is really more like 5+ to do properly e.g. listening to the playlist each week alone will take 1 hr or so; reading through and responding to other learners' comments etc. It is best suited, I think, to people who have the rudiments of music theory or at least some instrumental skill. There were some places, especially in the hard music theory sections, where I would have welcomed an additional explanatory sentence but, on the whole, a very worthwhile and enjoyable course.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
This is a very good course for a songwriter who is starting out. It shows how songs can be made, bit by bit, describing the main components needed to make a song.

The interviews of poets and professional songwriters is also very interesting as it shows the process a creative goes through from having the initial idea to actually creating the work of art.

We are shown that this is something that does not just appear but requires a lot of experimenting, changing and editing.

The course even gives advice on where to show your song i.e. Soundcloud, where it can be shared and seen by other songwriters.

Thank you very much! I have enjoyed this course and found it to be very encouraging.

Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
I am astonished at how much effort and expertise went into making this course, and that it is free! The tuition is wonderful - friendly and clear, but also ambitious - allowing students to take from it as much or as little as suits their level of experience and interest. I can't recommend it highly enough to anyone who wants to develop their understanding of how songs are put together and increase their practical competence at devising some of the elements that make up a song. I opted to upgrade so that I can spend more time on parts of the course that I found especially enlightening and inspiring. Thank you very much University of Sheffield for providing this fantastic course.
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