Song Starter: Say “YES”

My Song Coach

Having trouble getting a song started? Try this idea: Just say “YES!” Here’s how.

Say YES!Imagine yourself…
Walking on the beach or…
Hugging someone you love or…
Dancing at a party or nightclub or…
Hanging out with friends or… anything you like.

Now, do these five things…

  1. Write a list of phrases describing how you feel. Say YES to every phrase.
  2. Choose four to six phrases and put them in any order. Say YES to the order.
  3. Play a groove on guitar or keyboard or just tap your foot and clap your hands. Say YES to the groove.
  4. Sing a melody to the beat using your phrases. Say YES to the melody.
  5. Add chords that go with your melody. Say YES to the chords.

There’s your first draft of a verse or chorus. Keep saying YES until you finish a rough draft of the song. Make a rough recording of your idea so you can play your song later on to remind yourself of what you wrote. Put your song away for a few hours or even a few days, long enough to put some distance between you and it. Don’t think about it or work on it. Then go back and listen to it with fresh ears, as if someone else wrote it.

  • What do you like about it?
  • What do you want to change?
  • Are there too many themes? Is it confusing?
  • What else do you need to say?
  • What questions would a listener have?
  • Is your chorus melody interesting?

Make a list of things you want to change, and then make the changes on your list. Say YES to every change. Record your changes and put the song away again. Come back and work on it with fresh ears.

Keep doing this until your song is done.

Author: Robin

Robin Frederick is the author of Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting and Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV. She has written and produced more than 500 songs for television, records, theater, and audio products. She is a former Director of A&R for Rhino Records and Executive Producer of 60 albums. Visit Robin's websites for more songwriting tips and inspiration: and