Benji Harris Encourages New Generation Of Songwriters

Alumnus with music experience teaches attitudes, skills for industry success

March 2, 2022

Alumnus of the high school and professional musician Benji Harris made his presentation on songwriting one to remember by using live music performance and creative advice. 

Though Harris was not available to be in person, he still gave a great presentation over Google Meet.He made himself relatable by explaining to students how he went through the same school system. 

In fact, he went to a LitFest presentation when he was in school and that’s what helped him determine what he wanted to do in life. He calls it his “light bulb to success.”

 His story of the path to success from being a teenager with a passion to playing at arena concerts was inspiring. It made any audience member feel like they could do the same if they were dedicated.

After introducing himself, Harris played one of his songs, a country love song made all the better by his voice of gold.

To help any young student follow their dreams, Harris gave us plenty of tips and tricks that helped him to get to where he is now. He encouraged us to not be disappointed when our first few songs aren’t the best, because “bad songs” actually help songwriters make better music in the future.

But he didn’t just stop at the general advice. He provided an exercise that would help us develop the skill he mentioned. It was a writing trick where you write by hand on a sheet of paper, with no breaks, for 2 minutes. Then, you turn the paper over so you can’t look at it later. He told us to repeat that every day for a week. After the seventh day, you can read them and see your progress that way. 

This trick actually helped Harris overtime become a better songwriter, perfectly illustrating his point that there are no mistakes when it comes to songwriting. Everything is a teachable moment that will help you reach greatness. 

Along with his advice encouraging beginners to stay persistent, Harris also provided guidance on the techniques that make successful songwriting. He broke down the components of a good song which he said were made of four different parts. 

The first part is the introduction to a song, the building block. Because you have to hook your listener in that short amount of time, the first 3-5 seconds can determine how well the song performs with a broad audience. 

The second component is the verses. They usually consist of 4-8 lines. The verses set up the plot or the message of the song.

Next is the prechorus. It builds anticipation for the chorus, often with a chord change.

The fourth part is the chorus, and this is the highlight of the song. It might have a sentence or a word that the listener can remember the song by. 

After knowing how each part of the song comes together to make a complete whole, writing a catchy song seemed to be in reach. Impressively, he even demonstrated each section with his guitar, making up a song on the spot. 

Harris’ presentation provided the blueprint to what makes a hit song a hit, which means that students who wish to become artists, songwriters and musicians would ultimately benefit from listening to it. He should be invited back each year so that more students can gain his knowledge and enjoy his story.

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