What have you been through?
What has cancer taken away from you?
What gifts has the cancer journey brought into your life?
How have you felt throughout the process?
What has helped push you through this journey?
These are questions that often flood the minds of cancer patients. It is what you do with the answers to these questions that can help you heal and thrive with a sense of peace and well-being.
Dennis Buttimer, M.Ed, RYT, a facilitator at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont, recommends turning these emotions into song lyrics.
“The process of turning your feelings and experiences into song lyrics can be very therapeutic,” says Buttimer. “It is irrelevant if you can sing or play an instrument. Instead, it is the process of tapping into your inner musician and allowing yourself to put down words that reveal your inner thoughts that truly serves as a transformative power.”
Tips for songwriting
Put aside your inner critic and allow yourself to explore your artistic side.
Write freely about your experiences and feelings.
Look for ways to make your words rhyme in stanzas, but don’t force it. The emotional truth in the words is more important than the rhyme.
Like any skill, songwriting takes practice, so practice patience with yourself.
Buttimer points out that songwriting is a form of storytelling. You are telling a story about your life. It may be a difficult process, but it can be an inspiring and liberating process. Ultimately it is about letting go of something and preparing yourself for the next journey in your life.
Start with a title
The title defines the message of the song, so it is important to start by identifying your title. It will guide all of your lyrics, which will be the building blocks to the theme or message.
Study the title
Every title leads to questions. Explore these questions:
What does the title mean?
How do you feel about that?
What caused it to happen?
What do you hope will happen next?
Make a list of words or phrases that answer these questions.
Support the title with description
Build your song by creating a “path” that leads to the answers to the questions you have brainstormed. This path will serve as a journey. Make sure to use the title in your chorus. Keep the words simple and conversational. Let your honesty shine through.
When we speak, we naturally change pitch, volume, phrasing, and rhythm to emphasize and “tell” our story. All these elements are included in a song melody. The only difference is in a song, these elements are exaggerated and often repeated. So once you have your words down on paper, simply start to speak them and a natural melody will begin to flow.
“Just enjoy the process,” reminds Buttimer. “This isn’t about the craft of songwriting. It’s more about the expression of what lies inside of you. Feel free to use rhythms or melodies from other songs in order to fully convey your feelings. As we say in many of our programs, it’s about progress, not perfection.”
Get inspired by more creative ways to express yourself.