Lyric Writing: Tools and Strategies


Authored by Pat Pattison


Course Code: OSONG-220

Next Term Starts September 24

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.

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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
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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



None required

Required Textbooks

Writing Better Lyrics (Second Edition) by Pat Pattison, Writer's Digest Books

Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure by Pat Pattison, Berklee Press/Hal Leonard

Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming (2nd Edition) by Pat Pattison, Berklee Press/Hal Leonard

The Complete Rhyming Dictionary by Clement Wood, Dell Publishing

Software Requirements

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Windows Users

  • Windows 7 or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Hardware Requirements

  • 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed ( to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)




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 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.

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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



Eric Leva is an artist, songwriter, and producer from Burlington, Massachusetts. He studied classical piano for 10 years at The New England Conservatory of Music and then pursued vocal performance and songwriting at Berklee College of Music, completing his degree in 2014. Post-grad, Leva won an ASCAP Foundation Award while on an extended stay writing songs in New York City. His cowritten song "Don't Wait", written with Brett Leland McLaughlin (Daya, Troye Sivan) and Matt Parad (Bea Miller, Tinashe) was released and recorded by YouTube celebrity Joey Graceffa in May 2015. This release, which debuted at #4 on the iTunes singer/songwriter charts, iTunes UK Top 40, and iTunes World Wide Top 75, has accumulated more than 25 million streams in the last year. Now, Leva travels between Los Angeles and New York City writing with other artists and producers in a circuit of rising artists.


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