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Musicians who are just starting out as songwriters may find it difficult to put their ideas down on paper. It can be especially hard in Christian music when there is a certain tone or message with which you feel confined. Haven’t all of the bases been covered over the last 400 years of hymns and worship songs? If you’re wondering how to start a song in Chrisitan music, we have a few tips to accelerate the writing process. By the end of this article you should feel confident in knowing how to start a song and be ready to put pen to paper.
Start with What You Know
No matter the time period, the best inspiration for creating Christian music has always been a personal story. If you look back on the hymns of old, they are written after great tragedies, during battles with illness, or as reactions from Scriptural insights. Horatio Spafford wrote “It is Well with My Soul” after financial failure and the death of his five children. Great music and heartfelt worship come from deep places of hurt or joy. If you’re a beginner trying to figure out how to start a song in Christian music, start with what is authentic and personal to you. The story of your life probably isn’t as dramatic as Spafford’s, especially if you’re a teenager, but you have your own struggles, doubts, and victories to sing about. Think about what you are feeling and draw from those experiences.
Keep It Scripturally Accurate
There are two important aspects in writing a Christian song, the first of which we mentioned above. Beyond writing from your own experience, we cannot stress enough that your music needs to be Scripturally accurate. If you’re looking to write Christian songs, but treat the Bible as optional, your music isn’t worth anyone’s time. Without God’s Word backing you up, the words you are singing and the feelings which are stirred are all about you. There’s nothing wrong with non-religious music that sings about secular subjects. When you identify yourself as a Christian musician, though, your music is going to be held to a Christian standard. Wondering how to start a song in Christian music? Build off your own experiences as they relate to the Bible and you’ll be well on your way.
Take the Idea to Its Core
It’s one thing to be cerebral in writing or speaking, however, music is best received when it boils down to a simple idea. Although there are some celebrated songwriters who act as storytellers with their lyrics, musicians who are just starting out with original work will be better served by getting to the heart of the idea they’ve been circling. Think about a song like “Good Good Father” from Pat Barrett and Chris Tomlin. You could go on and on with big, descriptive words and ideas to accomplish the same message that a simple chorus achieves. Sometimes it can take a while to whittle down your song to its core. Don’t just accept your first draft. See if things aren’t being muddled over unnecessary complexity. We’re not saying you need to dumb things down, but recognize that simplicity often makes a song more powerful.
Try Not to Be Too Flashy
When you’re just starting out as a musician, there might be a temptation to go all out and be flashy with your original songs. Guitar solos, dance numbers, and too many moments highlighting your voice with long, drawn out notes are just a few ways that some artists can take away from the effectiveness of a song. There’s nothing wrong with a little flash and sizzle here and there, but someone who is experienced at writing music is bound to do more harm than good when trying to show off. Also, Christian music should try to be a little less about the performer doing her thing and more about God being lifted up through the song. It’s a fine line to walk and that’s why we think you’re probably better off saving it for a little further into your career as a musician.
Establish Your Identity as a Musician
The kind of music you play determines what kind of musician you are (and the opposite is also true). As you begin to wonder how to start a song in Christian music, think of what kind of message you want to send as an artist. What is your style or niche going to be? The genre(s) you want to play in will go a long way into helping you mold the sound of your music. You can also blend certain styles of music together to make your own sound. Want to venture into both hip hip and rock? It can be done. As you discover your voice and abilities with an instrument, you can think about what kind of musician you want to be.
Christian Music Can Be Diverse
As we just mentioned, you don’t have to be in a certain box. Christian artists often bounce between pop, worship, and rock in a single album. Your first few original songs don’t have to trap you in a certain sound. Don’t be scared to put together the song that sounds right to you. After all, if you make it in the music business, these are the songs you’ll be playing on a routine basis. Making music you don’t care about is not going to help you make it as an artist. It has to be true to who you want to be as a musician.
The Beginning Sets the Tone for a Song
Just like a writing assignment in school, the first stages of writing a song can be the hardest. Most of the time a song doesn’t even begin with a lyric either. Your capabilities may be limited when it comes to making beats or some other way to establish the tone for your song, but the beginning is often the most important part of the track. Between classic rock and today’s biggest pop or hip hop singles, you can often identify a song based solely off the first few seconds. What kind of song are you writing? Is it deeply personal and reflective? You may want to start out slow and steady. Do you want the song to pump people up? Turn up the guitar amp or put together some undeniable beats. Once you get the beginning down, you’ll never have to wonder how to start a song again.
Summarizing How to Start a Song as a Writer
We hope these bits of advice have been helpful as you begin to start your journey as a songwriter. Christian music has had some amazing talent over the years and we’re sure you have what it takes to make a big impression on the genre. Get to writing songs and see what God can do with them today.
Camp Electric is a Christian music camp that connects today’s biggest artists with the rising generation of teenage musicians. Our classrooms, workshops, and breakout sessions are unlike any other and they feature an incredible assortment of talented individuals. Find out how you can be our next student by clicking on the link below.