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Man playing the keyboard live in concert Man playing the keyboard live in concert
Photo Credit: Colin McKinley

The Creative American Music Program is a unique performing songwriting program built on two fundamental premises:

Respect for tradition – The CAM program is designed to develop the creative skills of talented songwriting artists by immersing them in the diverse traditions that form the foundation of modern American songwriting; the African and Anglo American roots music that all modern popular music is derived from. However, the CAM program is not about being conformed to the past, but rather about being informed by and becoming intimate with traditions that are deep wellsprings to draw from.

Commitment to musicianship – The CAM program is highly-selective and rigorous. CAM students perform at the same levels expected of all Music students in their respective disciplines. CAM students are not just great songwriters, but also great, highly-educated musicians.

Unlike a traditional major, the Frost School of Music pioneered an interdisciplinary educational model by offering a program that is available to all undergraduate music students regardless of major. The CAM curriculum is structed as a 17-credit minor that can be interwoven into any major at the School of Music. This creates a diverse and eclectic musical community of performers, producers, composers, engineers, entrepreneurs, educators, and music therapists coming together in ways that could never happen with a traditional major.

Unlike a traditional minor, the CAM program is a destination in and of itself. Students can apply and audition at the Frost School as songwriters through a Primary Instrument (Principal) in Contemporary Performance.

Contemporary Performance is designed for talented songwriters, singers, and instrumentalists who are not traditional classical or jazz musicians, and want to also pursue a professional major at the Frost School, including Musicianship, Artistry Development, & Entrepreneurship (MADE), Music Business and Entertainment Industries (MBEI), Music Engineering Technology (MUE), Media Writing and Production (MWP), Music Education (MED), Music Theory/Composition (MTC), Music Therapy (MTY), the B.M in Professional Studies (MPRO), The B.A in Music (BAM).

Contemporary Primary Instruments include:

  • Contemporary Guitar (Electric and/or Acoustic),
  • Contemporary Voice
  • Contemporary Bass (Electric)
  • Contemporary Keyboard
  • Contemporary Media (Alternate Controllers/Electronic Producers)
  • Contemporary Strings (Fiddle, Electric and/or acoustic Violin, Viola, Cello, etc.)
  • Contemporary Percussion (Drums and/or Percussion)
  • Contemporary Songwriting (Songwriters will also automatically apply to the CAM Program.)

Songwriting Program

If you feel like you have a story to tell through music or if you want to compose professionally, entering a songwriting program as a student may be a good move for you. Songwriters focus on learning music theory, the building blocks of any song, but they also learn how to complete, polish, and release their music out into the world. A quality songwriting program will help you build this foundation, give you feedback on your latest compositions, and launch you toward a successful career in music.

What is Songwriting and How Does It Happen?

Songwriting is the creation of original compositions that can be played by musicians. Writing songs can begin with a good idea or a burst of inspiration, but actually bringing the song to fruition requires transferring the good ideas from your head onto paper. There are several digital tools that can help you do this, but they mean little if you do not know how to use or do not have access to them. Achieved songwriters are able to seize inspiration when it arrives, but they also know how to push through artist’s block, attempting to compose even when the creative well has seemingly run dry.

Do I Need to Go To a Songwriting School?

Certainly, we’ve all heard about some established songwriters, especially in popular music, who simply compose and play their songs from memory. This success is hard-won. What we don’t hear is that someone else has to write the song down. Additionally, composing songs without ever documenting anything, in a way, can shortchange the songwriter. Attending a school for songwriting addresses this problem. Becoming a student puts every songwriting tool at your disposal. You can revise, edit, and revision your creations more easily if they live outside of your head. Additionally, putting a song to paper allows you to more easily receive feedback from peers and mentors alike.

Working as a musician is all about having a network. When you become an alumnus of a school, you instantly accrue manifold connections, and this kind of network is worth its weight in gold. Whether you’re trying to get connections in a new city, looking for work, or hope to connect with other musicians who want to partake of your music, a songwriting school’s network can help you achieve.

What Does an Songwriting Program Entail?

If you’ve listened carefully to any kind of music, you will have heard that many songs within particular genres contain many of the same elements. At a songwriting program, you will study how to use and manipulate these basic elements, as well as how to use the latest digital technologies related to songwriting. Some of the steps associated with songwriting take less time than ever before, thanks to these digital tools. It is in your interest to know how to use them.

You may also take classes in entrepreneurship and other business fundamentals. All musicians need to possess entrepreneurial acumen, especially if you plan to write songs that other people will use or play. From music law to contract design to registering and running a small business, a songwriting school of music provides you with the skills you need to know.

What Do I Need To Accomplish Before Entering an Songwriting Program?

Before entering a songwriting program at an accredited school, you will need to have achieved basic or intermediate proficiency in one or more instruments. Schools don’t expect you to be an expert already, but they will have you hit the ground running as you begin to build upon the skills you already have. Any music theory knowledge you have will also support your application. A keen interest and drive in songwriting will carry you through any program. Your faculty, peers, and other program associates are there to help you achieve.

What Will I Learn in an Songwriting Program?

A songwriting school allows you to immerse yourself in various genres and modes of music. Over time, you will begin to establish your own voice as a songwriter, but you will need to practice writing dozens of songs first. A songwriting school will support you and cheer you on through this process.

Co-Writing

Co-writing has become increasingly popular in the songwriting industry. A school of songwriting is the perfect place to practice writing with other people. Under the support of experienced mentors, you will learn what it means to create and revise original music together. You may even locate your lifelong collaborators!

Career Paths

You will also learn about (and try on) various career paths for songwriters. Some songwriters work directly for music publishers, which can be an alluring and stable path. Other songwriters work as professional musicians, playing their compositions themselves or in ensembles or bands. Still other songwriters work in related musical fields, such as sound engineering, studio music, and more.

What Should I Look For When Applying to An Songwriting Program?

One good way to judge a songwriting school is to look at the program’s pool of alumni. Where are they now? What are the alumni achieving? Another point to consider is the range and experience of faculty in the program. Do the instructors have any specialty in your areas of interest? What is their relationship to songwriting? Any songwriting school worth its salt will be happy to answer the questions you have as an applicant.

Other factors to consider as you research a songwriting program are the location of the school, class size, research and travel opportunities, the 4-year graduation rate of the program, and the school’s approach to collaborative pedagogy.

How Do I Find an Songwriting School That is a Good Fit for Me?

When you are considering entering a songwriting program, you may encounter a barrage of options during your search. The Frost School of Music at the University of Miami is the only school that uses The Frost Method™, a collaborative approach that puts you in the classroom with a small group of peers and an instructor. Individualized attention means that your skills will shine as you work to become a well-rounded songwriter with a variety of competencies.