Getting my Master’s from Taxi

An early, stream-of-consciousness, writing session.
An early, stream-of-consciousness, writing session.

Some years ago I decided I would become a songwriter. I was never going to be the next Beyonce, and I wanted a private life. I was working in a job I disliked, for a company that didn’t value my creativity. I felt stuck and wanted a do-over. One day I took my lunch break at a local bookstore and browsed some titles. I ended up with a copy of Jason Blume’s Six Steps to Songwriting Success. I devoured it.

Writing wasn’t a new idea. I grew up in a writing family. My mother had a Master’s Degree in Theatrical Playwriting, and I am the fourth generation of poets on her side. She took me to poetry retreats. I sat in on workshops led by Bill Kloefkorn. I watched and listened, as he gently rewrote good, sometimes mediocre poems. One of these was completely transformed, simply by writing it in present tense. It was so simple, so powerful! I’ll be sharing some of Bill’s insights in future posts, and my mother’s are sure to slip in now and then.

I was never going to be the next Beyonce, and I wanted a private life.

After reading Jason’s book, I knew I had it in me to be a lyricist, a good one. I also understood that the industry needed more than a home recording of me and a guitar. I started talking about this with a composer friend, Kurt Knecht. He said he had a friend who had sold some songs through Taxi, and I should check them out. Taxi was also listed in Jason’s book as a reputable company, so I took a look. I started watching their video content, and decided to join.

I looked at this as coursework towards a Master’s in Songwriting. I used the listings as writing assignments. Submissions were exams. Critiques were the teacher’s markings in the margins of my papers. The Road Rally was an extended master class. It’s worked. I have become a songwriter. I listen to music differently now. I recognize a great hook when I hear it. I understand there are varying degrees of hits. I don’t just hear the melody and the lyrics, I hear what’s going on underneath, what’s driving the song forward. Most importantly, I’m not afraid to rewrite. My best doesn’t come out in one shot. Sometimes my great ideas need a little space to develop. Future posts will expand on all of these points, but now you know how it all started.

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