Songwriting Music Theory:

Expanding Your Songs

Are you at a road block in your songwriting? Are you stuck using the same chords over and over? Are you wasting your money hiring musicians to come up with an accompaniment you don't know how to recreate?

You've heard the phrase about teaching a man to fish vs. giving a man a fish, right? The same concept applies in music and songwriting. If you know how to write music intelligently and consciously, then you will overcome the frustrating obstacles and limitations that have kept you from writing a hit song.

The term "Music Theory" sounds academic and unnecessary for pop writing, but that's not necessarily true. The basics of theory are absolutely applicable in contemporary songwriting. Concepts like progressions, substitutions, modulation, arpeggiations, and inversions are found all over the charts.

Here is an 8-week customizable crash-course designed to give the tools and knowledge that enhance music composition and songwriting. These skills will allow you to vary your chord progression, use different techniques with existing accompaniment, and offer more musically intellectual options for conveying a song’s intention. By exploring the foundation of music theory and analyzing its application in pop songs, you can make decisions and interpretations in your own projects. Rather than copying what “sounds good”, a theory background in sequencing, substitutions, and voice leading allows for a smarter approach to writing, creating clearer intention in your music.

The standard schedule is 8 weeks, but based on your proficiency and progress, the program can fluctuate between 5 and 10 hour-long sessions.

No supplies are necessary; occasional papers will be provided to assist in the material. The crash course is designed to learn by doing, hearing, and playing.

In addition to theory, there are opportunities to workshop your song. This allows for an application of the practices and skills being acquired throughout the course. Playing through the material on an actual keyboard often solidifies the lessons learned.

Contact for more information or to start your workshop.

Below is the standard schedule.


Week 1 – The Nuts & Bolts of Writing Music

  • The Staff
  • Intervals
  • Chords: I, IV, V
  • Inversions

Week 2 – Key Signatures & More

  • Circle of 5ths
  • Chords: ii, iii, vi, vii
  • Intervals: 7, 9
  • Analysis – Lee Greenwood “God Bless the USA”

Week 3 – Piano Application #1

  • Review
  • Applying theory 

Week 4 – Sequencing & Progressions

  • Cadences
  • Sequence
  • Analysis – Kelly Clarkson “Because of You”
  • Workshop

Week 5 – Momentum & Variation

  • Advanced Sequencing
  • Modulation
  • Analysis – Billy Joel “Piano Man”
  • Workshop

Week 6 – Piano Application #2

  • Non-Chord Tones/Voice Leading
  • Arpeggiation / Alberti Bass
  • Piano application
  • Analysis – Diana DeGarmo “Go On And Cry”
  • Workshop

Week 7 – Chord Borrowing

  • Key relationships
  • Analysis –Elton John “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me”, Faith Hill “Just To Hear You Say That You Love Me”
  • Workshop

Week 8 – Advanced Chords & Progressions

  • Enharmonics
  • Augmented/Diminished chords
  • Analysis – Reba McEntire “Does He Love You”, Garth Brooks “Friends In Low Places”
  • Workshop

Music Theory Tutoring

Contact to set up an appointment for private tutoring in Music Theory.