Lyric Writing: Tools and Strategies


Authored by Pat Pattison


Course Code: OSONG-220

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

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


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
This course does not have any prerequisites.


Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Classes. 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 a professor at Berklee College of Music, where he teaches lyric writing and poetry. In addition to his four books, Songwriting Without Boundaries (Penguin/Random House), Writing Better Lyrics, 2nd Edition (Penguin/Random House), The Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure (Hal Leonard), and The Essential Guide to Rhyming (Hal Leonard), Pat has developed several online courses for Berklee Online. He has written more than 50 articles for various blogs and magazines, including American Songwriter, and has chapters in both The Poetics of American Song Lyrics (University Press of Mississippi) and The Handbook on Creative Writing (Edinburgh University Press).

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Pat continues to present songwriting clinics across the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. His students include Grammy-winners, professional songwriters, and major recording artists, including Gillian Welch, John Mayer, Tom Hambridge, Joelle James, Karmin, American Authors, Ingrid Andress, Liz Longley, Charlie Worsham, Greg Becker, Justin Tranter, and many more.

For Berklee Online, Pat has authored the following courses: Lyric Writing: Writing From the TitleLyric Writing: Writing Lyrics to MusicLyric Writing: Tools and Strategies, Creative Writing: Poetry, and Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice. He also co-authored the graduate course Songwriting Tools and Techniques. Read Less

Chad Shank


Chad Shank is an accomplished songwriter, music producer, and instructor with over 30 years of experience in the music industry. His passion for music has led him to write thousands of songs and work with various artists and songwriters in different genres including pop, country, dance, and hip-hop.

For over a decade, Chad has been sharing his expertise in songwriting by teaching online and in community education programs. He has also served as Education Director for the Minnesota Association of Songwriters, where he has developed and organized songwriting workshops, lectures, and seminars.

In 2021, Chad started his own YouTube Channel, At-Home Songwriting, where he shares tips, insights, and tutorials on the craft of songwriting. He leads monthly workshops online with other songwriters, encouraging them to develop their skills and achieve their goals.

Chad's songs have been licensed and featured in TV shows on networks such as HBO, MTV, WE, Fox Business, and Discovery. He has released over 300 of his songs online on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube, reaching a global audience.

As a dedicated and passionate instructor, Chad is committed to helping aspiring songwriters unlock their creative potential and achieve their dreams in the music industry.

Brian Donovan


Brian is a songwriter, guitarist, artist, composer, and music educator.

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After earning his bachelor’s degree in Music Production & Engineering from Berklee College Of Music, 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.

Since beginning his career, Brian has toured all over the world, edited more audio content than you can imagine, and has been the voice over artist for many brands. He has taught private lessons on several instruments, has served as staff songwriter for a boutique record label, and has released his own personal pop/rock music as well. In addition, he teaches Lyric Writing for Berklee Online, and is an Assistant Professor for students on Berklee’s Boston campus, providing remote instruction for the Independent Recording and Production major.

Now a skilled professional with 25 years experience in all aspects of music creation, Brian writes, performs, records, edits, and mixes music for clients, in many specific genres, through Brian's music has also been nominated for the ISA award "Best Original Score" for his work on the web series, Stan Lee’s Sweethearts of the Galaxy.

Brian is happily married, and lives with his wife and three children in Southern California. Read Less

What's Next?

When taken for credit, Lyric Writing: Tools and Strategies can be applied towards the completion of these related programs:

Related Degree Major


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