Why start a course on songwriting now?? This is a loaded question and an open-ended/multi-pronged one at that. I guess I’ll answer it in two or three broad strokes (with many sub-questions in between :-)).
First, what do I mean by the question? I’m 53 and in the years where many a man begins to wonder whether they’ve ‘missed the boat’ or begin thinking whether or not retirement at any age will financially feasible. Why, after being a songwriter of 15 years or so, should I take a course on songwriting now? I’ve written 40-some songs, don’t I know what I’m doing yet?? Why this particular songwriting course? How does this fit with any spiritual, emotional and financial plan for my life?
We’ll get to those questions. But first, how about this answer for anyone who has a bent for songwriting: Why not take a course on songwriting???? I mean, learning more about the craft is not like taking a stab at all of those ‘can’t miss’ financial opportunities that are out there (with the empty feeling that if I don’t grab the right one that I’m going to ‘miss the boat’). Learning about the craft is a definite boning up on a specialized skill set. Learning from experts can give you the toolset you need to succeed and blossom in the songwriting business world. At the very minimum, becoming a better writer will make your word art take on some very satisfying forms. You’ll craft songs that will more richly tell your stories and enrich your life along the way.
But should I or you take any particular songwriting course?? As is a good plan in life, it’s always worth defining a road map or plan of action. You don’t have one yet?? Don’t worry about it, just keep working toward it.
All right. Why should I start a course on songwriting now that I’m 53? For one thing, it’s because I know that I have already done well at songwriting but now I want to be great at it. I feel that I’ve always been a decent writer. Not great, but I can string together words okay. Looking back at many of the songs that I’ve written, I see a natural feel for forms and prose and a natural feel for instilling clarity, or really being conscious of being concise with my words and aware of not confusing the listener.
Am I trying to make up for lost time; have I missed the boat? Ha, no. But it’s time for me to knuckle down and be the best that I can be in my calling from God to be a songwriter. It’s also the time that I can consider retiring from my full-time job. I’m eligible to retire in two years (because I meet a requirement of being 55 years old plus having a minimum of 15 years of service). What does that mean? It means that I’m eligible to begin withdrawing pension money. I can begin withdrawing from retirement accounts at 59½ years without penalties. But what it also means is that I won’t have health insurance!! Big drawback. What this all means and whether I’ll actually retire in 2 or 5 years is another story for another time!!
So why, after 15 years of songwriting, should I take a course on it now? Don’t I know what I’m doing yet in this business of songwriting? The short answer is no! I’ve been very “successful” in getting my and others songs out there in the world (literally, I’ve shipped CD’s of me and other artists to many different countries) in an effort to spread the gospel. I’ve learned much about publishing and administration. I’ve been “successful” in writing personal praise and corporate worship songs in a local effort. Now, I want to have better commercial success.
I really am less concerned about me as an artist and more concerned with writing songs that other artists and worship teams will want to sing. I want to fill the pipe line full of songs to music managers of all sorts. I want to send music packages to other worship leaders. I want to make my songs shine by paying attention to getting better at the craft of writing, and I want to increase my awareness and write songs specific to genres (actually, sub-genres for me. Since the vast majority of my songs are personal and corporate praise and geared toward the Christian music market, I will concentrate mostly on music managers within that market).
I’ve begun this online course at Christian Songwriter University (which has since folded into the larger ccmni organization). Why this particular songwriting course? I found out about it while searching for Christian songwriting sites. I ran into Contemporary Christian Music Networking International which I found to be very fresh and up-to-date. It is a part of a network of music business related sites, all concentrating on the Christian music industry. CCMNI has a songwriting contest, which I entered. One of the prizes of the contest is one month free membership in Christian Songwriting University. Intriguing! After reading more about CSU, I found that they are not interested in only teaching better craft and about industry relationships. They are primarily interested in helping a songwriter cultivate an attitude of kingdom-first. How we plug in to the calling on our lives from God, and how we express that is of great importance in their curriculum. I found that fascinating and fresh! That spoke to me more than I can express at the moment.
This course and these people who are instructing it are exactly what I need. My heart really wants to grasp all that God has for me in this arena. I have no other longing other than to do my best for Him and to show my wife some earning security in this second half of our lives. Yes, I want to be more financially successful in songwriting. Yes, I want to be able to retire from my other job and lead worship and write full-time instead of part-time for both. These people offer all aspects of what’s on my heart. I truly believe this is a God thing.
This time of my life is really fulfilling for me, and creating a second career of songwriting really fits the emotional bill. This is the person I was designed to be: a songwriter, a worship leader and a husband.
There is no, why now? question about this.
Listen to the call that says He knew you evermore
And knew the days of your life before you
Listen to the call and wonder what He has in store
This chapter of your life is all brand new
Stephen Robert Cass Christian People – 1998 Solid Walnut Music