Christian Music Industry Seminar: Songwriting – CMUS 436

CG • Section 8WK • 07/01/2018 to 12/31/2199 • Modified 02/16/2022

Course Description

This course provides training in songwriting. Emphasis is given to writing lyrics, melodies, harmonies, and rhythmic grooves for developing songs within a commercial music setting.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


Christian songwriters have the holy privilege of putting words into the mouths of God’s people—wonderful words that they might not have thought of saying to the Lord before.  A songwriter can be a soul doctor, a healer. Songwriting is an opportunity to magnify the worth of God and bring Him pleasure and teach the doctrinal truths of scripture.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand the profound impact of music and songwriting.
  2. Examine the elements needed to make a good song.
  3. Distinguish perfect and imperfect rhymes, as well as alliteration and similes.
  4. Create melodies for a variety of emotions and lyrics.
  5. Utilize chord scales, chord substitutions, and the Nashville Number System.
  6. Experiment with various grooves and tempos for songwriting.

Course Assignment

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (3)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to create a thread in response to the provided prompt for each discussion. Each thread must demonstrate course-related knowledge while also sharing experiences as related to class concepts. In addition, the student is required to reply to at least 2 classmates. (MLOs A, B, D, E)

Songwriting Assignments (7)

The student will complete 7 songwriting assignments over the course.  Each songwriting assignment will focus on a specific skill to enhance the student's songwriting ability and provide meaningful feedback to the student. (MLOs C, D, E, F)

Biblical Worldview Essay Assignment

The student will write a 4-5 page essay explaining how Biblical Worldview relates to commercial music and songwriting. (MLOs A, B)

Identifying Lyrics Assignment

The student will select 5 songs for which to identify various types of lyrics including: imperfect and perfect rhymes, alliterations, and similes. (MLOs A, C)

Writing Better Lyrics Worksheet Assignment

The student will complete a lyrics worksheet based on chapters 2 & 3 of Writing Better Lyrics. (MLOs A, C)

Diatonic Chord Scale Assignment

The student will create a video of he or she playing a diatonic chord scale progression in the key of C while calling out the correct Nashville Numbers for the scale. (MLOs D, E)

Chord Extensions Assignment

The purpose of this assignment is to help develop your “ear” for the Nashville Number System while also understand how to utilize chord extensions within songwriting. (MLOs D, E)

Song Style Assignment

The student will create a video of he or she playing a popular song in 3 different musical styles.  Styles could include: Pop, Rock, Country, R&B, Jazz, Reggae, and others. (MLOs B, F)

The student will complete 3 chord charts based on the assignment instructions. (MLO E)