Lyric Writing: Tools and Strategies


Authored by Pat Pattison


Course Code: OSONG-220

Next Semester Starts
Jan 10, 2022

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Sharpen your lyric writing skills and discover the techniques that have helped Pat Pattison's students win Grammys and write number one songs. In this course, you'll learn how to generate better ideas, find the right words to express those ideas, and organize rhythms and rhymes into compelling verses, choruses and bridges. Craft more vivid lyrics by mastering the elements of structure and the process of building great lyrical ideas into great songs. Whether you're a beginner or seasoned writer, this course will help you brainstorm ideas more freely and structure your lyrics more effectively.

Read More

Upon completing this course, you will have learned to:

  • Generate more ideas and better ideas for your lyrics
  • Find more interesting words to express your ideas
  • Create rhythms with your words
  • Find better and more interesting rhymes
  • Create effective contrast between sections
  • Use the structures of your sections to enhance the emotional intent of your lyric
Read Less


Lesson 1: Brainstorming: Object Writing

  • Object Writing
  • Object Writing Samples
  • Daily Object Writing Activities
  • Write a Lyric

Lesson 2: Balancing: Number of Lines

  • Daily Object Writing Activities
  • Daily Balanced Section Writing Activities

Lesson 3: Unbalancing: Number of Lines; Fundamentals of Rhyme

  • Daily Object Writing Activities
  • Daily Unbalanced Section Writing Activities

Lesson 4: Brainstorming: Worksheets

  • Balancing and Unbalancing with Number of Lines: Moving One Section into Another
  • Daily Object Writing Activities
  • Write Two Sections--Balanced to Balanced

Lesson 5: Line Length; Family Rhyme

  • Stressed Syllables
  • Family Rhyme
  • Daily Object Writing Activities
  • Complete a Worksheet and Write a Lyric

Lesson 6: Balancing and Unbalancing with Line Length; Additive and Subtractive Rhyme

  • Balancing and Unbalancing with Line Length
  • Playing with Line Lengths
  • Additive and Subtractive Rhyme
  • Daily Object Writing Activities
  • Daily Section Writing Activities
  • Write a Lyric

Lesson 7: Contrasting Sections Using Line Lengths; Assonance Rhyme

  • Contrasting Sections
  • Assonance Rhyme
  • Prosody of Rhyme
  • Daily Object Writing Activities
  • Write a Section with Assonance Rhyme
  • Write a Contrasting Section

Lesson 8: Line Lengths and Rhythm; Consonance Rhyme

  • Match Words to da DUM Patterns
  • Match the Rhythm of a Line
  • Create a Verse
  • Lines of Different Length
  • Consonance Rhyme
  • Daily Object Writing Activities
  • Find Uses of Consonance Rhyme
  • Write a Lyric

Lesson 9: Rhythm and Variation; Metaphor

  • Rhythm and Variation
  • Use Rhythmic Variation
  • Match the Rhythm
  • Metaphor
  • Daily Object Writing Activities
  • Daily Metaphor Writing Activities
  • Complete Writing Better Lyrics Exercise
  • Create Accidental Collisions

Lesson 10: Creating Sections with Rhythm; More on Metaphor

  • Couplets
  • Create a Section with Couplets
  • Varying Line Length--Common Meter and Beyond
  • Create a Section of Common Meter
  • Finish a Section
  • Find Metaphors
  • Daily Object Writing Activities
  • Revise Two Sections Using Common Meter and Couplets
  • Create Metaphors

Lesson 11: Rhyme Structure

  • Rhyme Structure
  • Notating Rhyme Schemes
  • Creating Forward Motion with Rhyme
  • Balancing (Resolving) with Rhyme
  • Accelerating and Slowing Down with Rhyme
  • Controlling Flow with Rhyme
  • Defining the End of Sections with Rhyme
  • Write a Section
  • Types of Closure
  • Using Basic Rhyme Paradigms
  • Daily Object Writing Activities
  • Write a Lyric

Lesson 12: The Grand Finale

  • Putting the Pieces Together
  • Recap
  • What Lies Ahead?
  • Object Writing Activity


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

This course does not have any prerequisites.

Required Textbook(s)

After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact for any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in live chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of  Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Pat Pattison


Pat Pattison is an author, clinician and Berklee Professor of Lyric Writing and Poetry whose students have composed for major artists and written number one songs. At Berklee, he developed the curriculum for the only songwriting major in the country. His books, including Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming and  Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure, are recognized as definitive in their genre, and have earned many ecstatic reviews. His clinics are attended by songwriters all over the country, and his articles appear regularly in a variety of industry publications.

Shane Adams


Shane Adams is a twice GRAMMY nominated music educator, and award-winning producer, and songwriter. Shane is president of Artist Accelerator and is a founding instructor for Berklee Online, where he has taught lyric writing and songwriting since 2003.

Read More

Shane is a featured songwriter and instructor for the Taylor Swift Education Center at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum where he received their TOP TEN HITMAKER award for 2014. He co-developed their groundbreaking “Words and Music” curriculum which has enabled thousands of elementary through high school students to learn to the craft of songwriting. Shane has served on the Hall of Fame’s museum expansion advisory board and has facilitated other music outreach programs such as “Poetry in Motion” co-sponsored by the Nashville Arts Commission and the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

In 2013, Shane was named the Music Industry Professional of the Year by Chowan University, and in 2005 Shane earned the Tennessee-Songwriter-Association-International’s highest honor, the Hallman Award, for outstanding contributions to the songwriting community.

Shane is currently the featured composer for Fjor Films and has produced the music and scored several independent film projects, including Fortune Cookie (featured at both the Sundance and Hollywood Film Festivals).

Shane writes for iSing Magazine, and is an internationally recognized songwriting lecturer and music production panelist.

He is currently developing two songwriting apps for the iPad platform, and is in pre-production as c-host/co-producer for “Studio Soundtrack,” a songwriting radio program for National Public Radio. Read Less

Brian Donovan


Brian is a composer, songwriter, and voice actor. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Music Production & Engineering from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Brian moved to California and began his career by working with many well known recording artists and companies, such as Barry Manilow, Mickey Rooney, ABC, USA, The CW Network, and Disney.

Read More

Brian has recently signed on with Bad Dino Music as Staff Songwriter, and is an accomplished composer, having been nominated for the ISA award "Best Original Score" for his work on the web series, “Stan Lee’s Sweethearts Of The Galaxy”.

For voice acting, he has studied with Seth Riggs and Marc Cashman, and most notably recorded spots for Great Dane Trucking and The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Brian has voiced several characters in NCSoft’s massive online roleplaying games: “Aion” and “Blade & Soul” and is featured as Dok Bloodnikov, one of the lead characters in Amy Burnard’s new drama podcast series, “Cosmic Love".

Brian is happily married to Assistant Director, Deborah Greaney Donovan, and they live in Southern California with their 3 children. Read Less

Keppie Coutts


Keppie is a performing singer-songwriter and passionate educator. In addition to teaching songwriting and lyric writing for Berklee Online, Keppie teaches songwriting in her hometown of Sydney at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and the Australian Institute of Music.

She combines a technical and theoretical knowledge of music and songwriting with a love and sensitivity for contemporary songwriting, diverse styles, and a desire to help songwriters clarify and communicate their unique voice.

As a professional songwriter, Keppie works in collaboration with many artists—from indie bluegrass Canadians, to major label pop acts, and even heavy metal. She is currently signed to Volkanik Music Publishing.

Eric Leva


Eric Leva is a songwriter, singer, producer, and classically trained pianist from Massachusetts. Leva has studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and Berklee College of Music. Following his studies, Leva spent time in New York City to hone his craft and develop his writing. A songwriting award from the ASCAP Foundation eventually sparked a move to Los Angeles to pursue more collaborations. His recent releases include Kesha, DNCE, Wes Period, and Rozzi.

Scarlet Keys


Scarlet Keys has been a Professor in the Songwriting department of the Berklee College of Music for the past 15 years, holds a BM in Music from Berklee and is a former staff writer for Warner Chappell. 

Read More

Scarlet has had a gold record in Sweden, topped the charts in Britain and has songs recorded in the U.S. by award winning artists spanning genres from jazz, country, Americana, folk and pop.

Her songs have appeared on film and TV. as well as national commercials and Scarlet has worked with and collaborated with artists such as Chris Stapleton, Gretchen Wilson, Emily West, Golden Globe nominee Monty Powell to name a few.

Scarlet’s former students include: Charlie Puth , Charlie Worsham, Liz Longley and Betty Who and many up and coming new artists.

Scarlet continues to write, perform and teach both at Berklee and songwriting clinics across the U.S. Read Less


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.


Get Info