Andrea Stolpe

Andrea Stolpe
 Andrea Stolpe teaches songwriting at Berklee Online and the University of Southern California. Her songs have been recorded by Faith Hill, Julianne Hough, and Jimmy Wayne. She is also the author of Popular Songwriting: 10 Steps to Effective Storytelling.




As songwriters or producers, it is our job to make an artist look good. In other words, we need to capture with sound what makes that artist unique and appealing. I’d like to share some techniques I have found work well when songwriting with a recording artist who may or may not be a songwriter at heart.

Sometimes performing or recording artists are vocalists or instrumentalists with very little songwriting knowledge.  In a collaborative situation, it is the songwriter’s job to take the lead and help the artist to verbalize with music and words elements of who he or she is as an artist.  This can be a daunting task unless we break it down into smaller steps.

Some of the best lyrics can be found by truly listening to the artist talk about what is important to him or her. Getting to what’s important sometimes takes some digging. It is up to us as the writer to ask the right questions to reveal these good lyrics. We start in conversation, listening closely to what comes up. When something does come up, such as a memory of a situation, a person, or a pivotal experience, we can investigate that with the artist. The moment that holds the well of emotion is the moment the song should capture.  Pretend you’re a journalist, and you are interviewing the artist. You might ask, what really hit you at that moment?  What do you believe now because of that experience? What do you want people to know about you because of that time in your life?

Follow your instincts, and when you ask questions take the stance of someone who is truly curious to understand the person inside the artist. As you do, record the exact words the artist says.  Using the artist’s language ensures that the artist feels he or she had a major part in writing the song. This gives you a better chance of seeing your song chosen for the performance or the record.

We can also use this technique writing with other songwriters. It’s a kind of collaborative object writing or destination writing. It also helps us to see eye to eye on a song idea, getting us on the same page from the beginning of the song.  It’s not uncommon for collaboration to feel difficult or even uncomfortable at times.  Having some tools at hand to keep the session lively and productive can alleviate our fears and result in some great songs and relationships.

Happy writing,


Looking for Cole

November 1, 2015

Billy Joel – Movin’ Out

October 30, 2015

“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 6-eBook Bundle

GARY EWER   –   How Ballads Today Compare to a Sinatra-Style Ballad   –   10-9-15

You may not know the song “Comme d’habitude“, written by French songwriters Claude François and Jacques Revaux, but you’ll no doubt know “My Way,” a big hit for Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and others. Paul Anka acquired the rights to the melody (for $1), and then penned a new English lyric that brought the song to a much larger audience.


Woman's Beautiful Hands hold Pencil on Digital Piano Keys

Woman’s Beautiful Hands hold Pencil on Digital Piano Keys

If you spend any time at all comparing verse and chorus melodies, you’ll notice right away that verses often centre in on one or two pitches. And it may not be that they sing those one or two constantly, but you’ll hear everything coming back, over and over again, to those couple of notes.


Rock band in concert


Living in a songwriter’s vacuum means that the cutting edge isn’t possible for you. Here’s how to fix that.


How to Write a Song with UltimateSongwritingLessons

Quietness in music can be a powerful tool. Use it wisely.


Joni Mitchell - Magdalene Laundries


Struggling to build an audience base? “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” shows you every aspect of what makes a great song great. Read more..



DONATIONS: http://www.andrewwasson.com/donations…

MORE LESSONS: http://www.creativeguitarstudio.com/

Search Andrew Wasson.com for FREE lesson Handouts.
This Video: July 06, 2012 | Search Videos by Title/Date.
GO TO: http://www.andrewwasson.com/recent_po…

Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio answers a viewers question…

Q: I’m 17 years old, and no matter what I write, it’s too simple and lacks depth. I wanted to know if there is a way to give sections a significance throughout the song, making the song unique in it’s own way. I’d really appreciate if you’d be able to help me, my frustration is at a certain point where I’m starting to lose confidence in my composing skills.
Michael – Berlin, Germany

A: As musicians we tend to think of our style of art as a language and just like any language, without structure, without clear intonation and meter, the communication of our musical ideas can sometimes suffer. Because music is both self-expression and communication, our listener should be able understand the musical flow of each section of our songs. So, what is a song section? Examples of this are; a verse, a chorus, the bridge, perhaps an intro. and usually some type of ending. Some songs have lyrics, others are instrumental. But, one thing is for sure, each part must be understood and accepted by both the musician and the audience. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but songs that tell a story and have a catchy hook, will tend to connect extremely well with an audience. To create good structure we need a song writing road map. Unfortunately, as composers each of us needs to build our own song writing road map, but I can get you started with a few significant tips on this topic, watch the video to learn more!



Cassidy Hodges

Nashville songwriters Steve Moakler and Stephanie Lambring walk through the process of making a song and doing it for a living.

Songwriter Alex Vargas

March 28, 2015

Don Marcotte


It’s So Amazing!

Here you  are in one moment of time.  Exploring your guitar , your piano.  Then something Happens to you.  Your ego disappears  and your higher self begins to hear  music you’ve never heard before.  It’s taking your heart and mind into new territory.  Patterns turn into phrases.  You are trying to feel where it wants to go.
Listen  to your intuition . Be daring.  It will all work out later.

Enjoy the magic of music creation!  The more music skills you learn , the more freedom  of expression comes your way.  Many musicians want to help you learn .  I hope that  you will find  these  websites helpful .   Your music composition adventure has begun!


Young Composers.com  

You can upload music to our network, where our insightful review team will help you hone your craft.  Our composer music forum is an active com – munity of professionals, students, and amateurs who can  answer questions about the life and career of classical music composition and show you new techniques. 

Maria Schneider’s Advice to Young Composers   –   YouTube
“When artists break through by doing what they think will make them famous, not what they love, expressing their “real” selves becomes far harder.”

Advice For The Emerging Composer   –   Eric Whitacre .com 

A young composer uses old school methods of  music notation and tells you why.  ( Listen to his Virtual Choir 3, ‘Water Night’  received 3746 videos from 73 countries around the world  and launched on April 2nd 2012 at a live event at Lincoln Center, webcast on Lincoln Center Website, and revealed online.  Very Inspiring!
Eric Whitacre.com  –  Advice For The Emerging Composer  –  Competitions
Learning from his personal experiences.
South Carolina School of Music
Leans toward Jazz Comp   –   Very  helpful Guide to the beginning Composer.  Music Theory Rules, Getting Started, Rewriting, Questions to Ask, Contrasts, Consistencies Motivic & Compositional Devices, Listening, Composition Links
Advice For Pianists: How To Compose Piano Music
Piano Lessons Myths  –  David Nevue.com
Advice For Young Composers / Young Musicians QuestionsMusical Mentors   –   Christophe Beck  –  YouTube
Composers New Pencil   –   Live / Dead Site  (no longer maintained).
What a shame!  What remains is quite useful to a composer.
Array Young Composers Workshop   –   The Process   –   YouTube 
National Young Composers Challenge   –  YouTube   –  The Composium
Pillars of Creation by Stephen Spies  –  The National Young Composers Challenge is open to young musicians ages 13 to 18 who are
U.S. residents.  The Challenge is simple. First, you can take part in a free full-day workshop with world-renowned composers and musicians. Then you write your own score for chamber ensemble or full orchestra. Finally, a panel of judges chooses the top three orchestral and top three ensemble compositions.

Very Young Composer Workshop   –   YouTube   –  Part One   –   Part Two

Berklee Press   –   Music composition / arranging / songwriting publications

Lawrence  Music  Composition  Blog
The number one piece of advce for young composers.

The Muses Muse
A songwriting resource for both beginners & pros. 

Advice For A Young Composer
Jeffrey Cotton.net