The Missing Link In Your Songwriting Process

by Kristen Gilles

in Songwriting/Hymn Workshop

stereo feedback frequencies

No, not that kind of feedback ...

Although difficult to swallow, getting constructive critiques of your new songs can be an effective tool for honing and polishing your songs. Today at My Song In The Night we’ll give you a free tool for doing so, and examples of the diverse kinds of people from whom you should seek feedback.

Bobby and I have the privilege of writing together and serving as sounding boards for each other’s ideas, but we’re prone to be biased since we love each other and share similar likes and dislikes in music. While working on a recent songwriting project for Sojourn Music, we recruited some of our family members, friends and fellow Sojourners to listen and offer feedback on our new songs. This exercise proved challenging, encouraging and helpful.

Once everyone had gathered in our home for the songwriting critique, and after we enjoyed some desserts and fellowship, we distributed feedback forms for everyone to complete, and I sang every song live. After each one, we allowed everyone ample time to complete their feedback form for that song. After completing all the songs we opened the floor for audible questions and critiques.

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One key to the success of this constructive critique exercise was encouraging everyone to be honest and either as succinct or verbose as necessary to communicate their feedback. We also gave them freedom to leave their feedback anonymously.

Another key to the effectiveness of this exercise was gathering people from different generations, some who are musically gifted and some who are not, some who attend our church and some who do not. We wanted a diverse audience so we’d get a broader range of feedback. It wouldn’t have been that helpful to have an audience comprised only of people from our church and our generation who know music the way we do.

We asked several members of our community group, none of whom were songwriters, and only one who is a member of the Sojourn Music team. We also invited Bobby’s parents, who attend a different church from us where mostly contemporary praise & worship songs are sung (also, Bobby’s parents have been singing and appreciating Southern Gospel tunes for years). We invited my sister who is an R&B singer-songwriter and also attends our church. And we invited another couple who have been my lifelong mentors and who, although not songwriters or musicians, love music and hymns.

After gathering the feedback, and humbly processing and reflecting on it (it WAS a humbling experience!), we spent the next week rearranging and polishing our songs to make them more singable, easier to understand, more theologically clear, etc., all based on the feedback we received.

We hope you’ll engage others in this type of exercise as you persevere in your songwriting efforts for the glory of Christ and the edification of His Church.

“Holy Feedback” photo by Audin Malmin, used via Creative Commons license

{ 1 comment }

josephyli March 27, 2014 at 5:44 am

I’m going to use this on Saturday for a songwriter’s meet with people from my church. Thanks!

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