Take your skills to the next level, one-on-one, with the professional songwriter, educator and author of ‘The Art Of Songwriting’
Creativity is a skill you learn. That’s the ethos at The Song Foundry, a songwriting resource site created by songwriter Ed Bell in 2014. “People have this idea that you’re either born a great writer or you’re not,” Ed says. “It’s a nice idea. It’s just not true. If it were, where are Bob Dylan’s, Jay Z’s, Taylor Swift’s great songs from when they were just kids?
“If you look back to their earliest work – when they were still making a name for themselves – you’ll see it’s a lot rougher round the edges than the later stuff we really admire them for. And that’s not to mention all the pretty unremarkable songs they wrote while they were still learning their craft, the ones that’ll never see the light of day.”
A lot of the songwriting advice online is about writing a hit, or getting more Twitter followers or mastering your first EP. But there’s an important stage before anyone of that: learning to become a great writer. Mastering harmony, melodic writing, rhyme and structure. Finding your own voice. Learning to think more creatively.
“I created The Song Foundry to start passing on some of the skills, tools and techniques I learned both from studying songwriting and in my professional work as a writer,” Ed says. “People think success as a songwriter is down to sheer luck, or being in the right place at the right time, but if you’re not skilled at what you do all the luck in the world won’t help. The Song Foundry is about giving everyone, wherever they are in the world, access to developing those skills.”
“Today there are more ways than ever to improve your songwriting”
“Like every creative project, it’s a work in progress,” he jokes. “I publish regular articles not just about songwriting, but also about creativity and the life skills you need to succeed as a songwriter. In 2016 we created a 15-part video series called ‘On Songwriting’ that’s packed with the ideas, tools and techniques we think every songwriter should know about.
“Then in 2017 my first book, The Art Of Songwriting, was published. I decided to do something different in the book – it’s not about learning rules or formulas, and it’s as much about what it’s like to live and think as a creative person as it is to write songs. Nobody had written about that before in a songwriting book, so it seemed like it was time someone did.”
But for Ed, the jewel in the crown of his work at The Song Foundry is his one-on-one Skype coaching. “I’ve been really lucky with my own education and training as a musician. At university, in London and later when I lived in New York I’ve been able to work one-on-one with some amazing teachers and mentors who really helped me become the artist – and person – I am today.”
“So when I created The Song Foundry I decided not to do the usual thing of selling video courses, because while one-size-fits-all programmes might be a great way to learn a language or lose weight, they’re a terrible way of developing distinctive, one-of-a-kind artists. So instead, I made most of the essential knowledge available in our free video series and in The Art Of Songwriting, and recommend that any songwriter serious about developing their skills signs up for one-on-one sessions when they can. Sure, a handful of one-on-one sessions not seem as good value as a £300 video course you can watch over and over, but in the long run personal attention is by far the best way to make progress. Plus, I’ve kept the sessions to forty minutes and offer substantial discounts on packages of three or six sessions to keep them affordable.”
Ed isn’t keen to give mass advice. “The reason I love one-on-one sessions is that I can be sure anything I say is perfectly tailored to the person hearing it,” he laughs. “But if I had to condense 20 years’ experience writing and 10 years’ experience teaching into three words, they’d be ‘Do the work’. There’s a lot to learn to be a great songwriter and nobody masters it all overnight.
“Luckily, today there are more ways than ever to improve your songwriting. If you want to do it all on your own, well, that’s possible. But if you have the means to join a songwriting workshop or class, or invest in some one-on-one coaching, then that’s all the better.”
Ed Bell is a songwriter and educator based between the UK and US. He’s the author of The Art Of Songwriting and a regular contributor to Songwriting Magazine. His professional work is mostly in theatre and film, and his songs have been performed in London, Edinburgh, Calgary, New York and Massachusetts. In 2017 he was an Artist in Residence at Oriental DreamWorks in Shanghai, China. Skype Coaching Sessions with Ed start from £25/$33/€29 each. Find out more and schedule your free consultation at thesongfoundry.com/coaching