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My Journey Into Songwriting
By Jeff Oxenford - 09/15/2006 - 01:27 PM EDT

Thanks for checking out my column. If youíre reading this column, you will realize that Iím not a profession songwriter, yet. Iím learning and have been for over 20 years.

This column will describe my path toward improvement and I will share tips and strategies that I learn. This first article will describe how I evolved into songwriting. If you can see yourself in this, stay tuned for my future articles.

I started playing the guitar in the 6th grade. After I had learned my first song, ďFeeling GroovyĒ my cat broke my guitar. I didnít pick it up again until the end of high school when my cousin showed me a few chords. In college, I took a guitar class and got my first and only D. I was playing one to two hours every day, but, not the class material. I learned more by jamming and watching other musicianís fingers. Eventually I played rhythm guitar in a rock and bluegrass band. I knew the basic chords, but that was it. With those limited chords, I was able to create my first songs.

Over the years, I continued to play to relax after work. I made up songs so Iíd have something new to play. When I couldnít write anything new I started to take some classes at Swallow Hill, a folk music center in Denver. If they were grading, I probably would have gotten a D. However, with each class I did learn at least one little trick that lead to a new song.

Now Iím getting a little more serious about learning. I found a great private instructor, Ben Senterfit, who continually challenges me. I also participate in a local songwriting group,attended the Song School in Lyons, CO, and just registered as a student at SongU. My songs are getting better and Iím getting closer to where I want to be.

To share my music and my thoughts on songwriting, Iíve launched a website. When I become famous and incredibly rich, you can say you knew me whenÖ

With each article, Iíll end with a few take home points. From this reflection the points are:

1. As your musical vocabulary grows, so does your ability to express yourself
2. If you learn one thing in a class its time well spent. Small improvements over time add up.
3. Learn some music theory (I canít believe I said this). On the other hand, donít be a slave to theory. Theory helps you organize your thoughts, but shouldnít keep you from drawing outside the lines.
4. Seek out learning opportunities and recognize which best fits you. Is it a class, jamming, watching someone on stage or just listening to music?
5. Keep at it!

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