Goal

To help students explore the art and joy of popular songwriting and to teach the basics of song craft via one-on-one, easily digestible, interactive lessons designed to educate, spark creativity, inspire and give students the technical foundation to quickly begin writing their own songs or polish their already developed writing skills.


RequirementS

Ages 11 and up.

Intermediate level proficiency on guitar or piano (ability to comfortably play basic chord progressions on either guitar or piano) required. Intermediate level proficiency on bass also eligible.

Beginner to advanced students welcome (coursework will be adjusted according to students’ existing knowledge and skill level).

Some homework/prep work will be assigned (lesson dependent).

Time-frame

*24 basic lessons, followed by ongoing, advanced instruction.

30 min, weekly lesson via Skype (or in person, in-studio for NYC residents, if preferred).

Cost: $35 per lesson.

(*Note: Some lessons may extend to the following session at instructor’s discretion based upon individual student’s needs/progress.)


Syllabus

Unit 1: The Basics

Lesson 1  

What is a Song? What is a Songwriter? Why write songs?

Lesson 2

Songwriting Building Blocks Overview: Chord progressions, Top Line Melodies, Lyrics, Tempo-Rhythm, Song Structure

Lesson 3

Primary/Common Song Structure Elements (Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, etc.)

Lesson 4

Analyzing Popular Song Structures

Lesson 5

Analyzing Your Favorite Song I: Listening to and examining the structure of one of the student’s favorite songs.

Lesson 6

Analyzing Your Favorite Song II: Listening to and examining the structure of another of the student’s favorite songs.

Lesson 7

Lyric Primer: Digging a little deeper into the nuts and bolts of how words/lyrics work in a pop song.

 
 
 

Unit 2: Writing YOUR Song

Lesson 8

A Few Good Ideas: Collecting your inspired, musical snippets/progressions and organizing them. Also, picking your song style (up-tempo, mid-tempo, ballad, etc.).

Lesson 9

Picking the best progression idea and making it the Chorus of your song. Formulating and refining a Chorus chord progression.

Lesson 10

Formulating a top-line melody for your Chorus.

Lesson 11

Picking your next best progression idea and making it the Verse of your song. Formulating and refining a Verse chord progression.

Lesson 12

Formulating a top-line melody for your Verse

Lesson 13

Taking your remaining progression idea and making it the Bridge of your song. Formulating and refining a Bridge chord progression.

Lesson 14

Formulating a top-line melody for your Bridge.

Lesson 15

Exploring the creation of secondary and tertiary song elements I (Intros, Pre-Choruses, Solos, Outros and their top-line melodies).

Lesson 16

Exploring the creation of secondary and tertiary song elements II (Intros, Pre-Choruses, Solos, Outros and their top-line melodies).

Lesson 17

Creating Your Song Structure I: Ordering your song elements into a cohesive song form.

Lesson 18

Creating Your Song Structure II: Ordering your song elements into a cohesive song form.

Lesson 19

Writing lyrics for your Chorus.

Lesson 20

Writing lyrics for your Verses.

Lesson 21

Writing lyrics for your Bridge(s).

Lesson 22

Writing lyrics for your secondary and tertiary song elements.

Lessons 23 - 24

Putting it All Together: Assembling all your modular parts to form your finished song, while refining the tempo, rhythm and time signature of the song as well.

 
 
 

Unit 3: Ongoing Lessons (Advanced Curriculum)

Personalized song creation coaching (the cyclical repetition of Lessons 8 through 24 above, with unique, student-generated compositions, encouraging student autonomy).

And a combination of the following:

-Continued, varied, popular song structure analysis (instructor and student chosen compositions).

-Arranging and Production lessons as a natural extension of songwriting.

 -Songwriting micro-lessons and tips (e.g. songwriting best practices, avoiding writer’s block, songwriting tools, the business of songwriting - performance rights organizations, copyrights, publishing, etc.).

-Continued, varied, individual artists/songwriter analysis with historical background and context (instructor and student chosen artists/composers).


About the Instructor

Mark Bacino is a NYC based singer-songwriter and producer with over 30 years experience writing songs. He has worked with Grammy winning, Grammy-nominated and platinum-selling songwriters and has multiple album releases to his credit as an artist in both the US and abroad.

Mark is also owner of The Queens English Recording Co., a boutique studio-music production house where he produces fellow artists and composes for TV/advertising.

When not making music, Mark can be found writing about it as an ongoing contributor to such publications as Guitar World, SonicScoop and Songwriter’s Market.