Songwriting can be one of our better “stay young” pills because it stimulates wellness, mindfulness, and neuroplasticity through more vibrant mental acuity. The act is simply the ability to hear and create music, to append lyrics, and record, recite or joyfully play them in a pleasing manner for friendly audiences appreciative of our creative effort.
Songs are one of humanity’s oldest forms of self-expression. Scientists have located a “music center” in our brain which makes us react to music in much the same way we react to other pleasure-inducing stimuli. Songs make us feel through rhythm and melody, but they stay with us thanks to the familiar patterns that comprise song structure.1,2
Songwriting can stimulate beneficial practices:
Wellness, the act of practicing healthy habits on a daily basis to attain better physical and mental health outcomes; to thrive not just survive.3
Mindfulness, the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not be overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.4
Neuroplasticity (brain plasticity), a process that involves adaptive structural and functional changes to the brain. It is the ability of the nervous system to change its activity in response to intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli by reorganizing its structure, functions, or connections.5
Think you can’t do it? You can. There is no one method and finding your own method is the fun part. Just do it. Here are some tips to get started:
Find a comfortable moment, focus on being quiet and using non-critical listening, speaking, writing, humming, strumming of several repeating chords, or tapping to begin bringing lyrics and musical chords onto paper or onto a cell phone recording. Don’t be judgmental or too precise. Just capture it. Editing comes later.
You can also begin by listening to a simple, yet catchy, familiar song. Pick out the rhythms and melody, and then write or sing whatever comes to mind. You’re telling a story; your own story, beginning, middle and end. Scribble or hum something simple with easy flowing lyrics, adding to the melody. Most pop songs are written for a fourth grade understanding and are simple and straightforward.
Can you identify the melodies for these classic lyrics? “Here comes the sun…Do do do do.” “Baby Love, Ooh Ooh, Baby Love.” “Met him on a Monday, my heart stood still, Da doo Ron Ron, Da doo Ron Ron.” “I’m singing in the rain, just singin’ in the rain. What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again.” Easy right?
Consider these: What do I want the listener to feel when they hear my song? What experience do I want to give the listener? Think of your favorite songs and try to experience the feelings of these songs. Remember, a song can be solely instrumental as well, so whether you create a melody or lyrics, you’re a songwriter.
Ronald Rawson of Rancho Mirage is a semi-retired executive who started writing songs later in life. He is now a successful songwriter and offers creative songwriting presentations. Ron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
References available upon request.