Things have been a bit of a whirlwind here at Wholesome Harmonies!

I have a few big projects in the works and some other exciting announcements, so stay tuned to the blog.

At UCP, we are in full preparation mode for our Spring Musical, Little Red Riding Hood. I am so excited about this performance! I’ll be sharing how I put that together in the next few blog posts.

So things have been going just swimmingly. In addition to my group, individual, and co-treatment sessions at UCP, I also supervise interns and practicums. One of the main things I work on with my students is developing their own original and creative songs and interventions.

I wrote a post on why writing original songs is important – click here to read that article.

I know some students get stuck on how to write original songs and how to make their songs sound different. As someone how has written over 400 original songs (holy cow!!) I have some tips and ideas to share on how to make your songs sound unique and different:

Use different meters
I have to admit the majority of my songs are in 4/4. Changing your songs to 3/4 or 6/8 meter can completely change the feel of a song – AND can be quite effective for rocking or swaying songs.

Use different keys
This sounds obvious, but those of us who play guitar know that we are probably not going to write a song in Bb major or G# minor (at least not without a capo nearby!) I tell my students: look at your session plan from top to bottom – you don’t want to have three songs in a row in A major. Make sure your entire session plan has songs in a variety of keys.

Write songs with a different starting pitch
Simply starting your song on ‘so’ or ‘me’ can completely change the direction of your song. Try it!

Use different modes
Why not explore the Lydian, Dorian, or Mixolydian modes? They can completely change the feel of a song.

Use different chords
I love exploring jazz chords. Jazz Guitar is one of my favorite resources.

Use different chord progressions
Break free from the I, IV, V, I progression! I like to listen to popular songs and figure out the chord progressions that I like. Then I can write songs using modifications of those chords progressions.

Use different styles of music
The blues are a very popular musical style to use in music therapy. What about reggae? Or Latin? Hip hop? Gospel? I love to use auto accompaniment on my keyboard to really capture the feel of these musical styles (steel drum for my reggae song? Yes please!)

I absolutely LOVE writing original songs. Check out my collection here – you can purchase sheet music!

Even if you don’t work with children with special needs, original songs can be utilized with many different populations.

Join the conversation – leave a comment below and let me know how you make your original songs sound different and unique.


Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/