Lyric Writing: Tools and Strategies


Authored by Pat Pattison


Course Code: OSONG-220

Next Semester
Starts April 3

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 

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 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. Read Less

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.

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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

Brian Donovan


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.

Cassandra Long


Cassandra is a singer, educator, writer and performer based in Sydney, Australia. Having graduated Summa Cum Laude from Berklee College of Music with a Bachelor of Music in Songwriting and Music Production, she currently lectures in the Music Department at JMC Academy Sydney as well as mentoring artists and teaching voice. Cassandra is the vocalist and co-songwriter for an indie folk duo, sagas, and is currently writing a book on vocal technique. 

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As an educator, Cassandra is passionate about supporting students while they hone their craft, using tools and techniques to form strong emotional connections with their audiences through song, and amplify their artistry. She is keen to instill her love of creativity and songwriting in her students. Read Less

Gabby Tulloch


Gabrielle Michelle Tulloch – know artistically and professionally as Gabby Michelle – is a songwriter, producer, music educator, and performing artist from Worcester, MA. Writing songs since the age of nine, Gabby studied at Berklee College of Music, where she was recognized for her creative approaches to songwriting and impactful lyrical content. After studying under his mentorship, Gabby has also served as the teaching assistant for renowned author, songwriter, and professor, Pat Pattison. 

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A passionate advocate for mental health, Gabby studied Music Therapy and psychology as well. She has performed and participated in a variety of mental health awareness showcases and events and, while a student, received an award of recognition for her contributions to mental health in the Berklee community. She credits her Music Therapy background for providing a more thoughtful and informed understanding of the relationship between music and the mind, and for recognizing the value of creative arts as a form of both communication and self-expression. 

Now working out of Nashville, TN, she continues to strengthen her craft while writing songs for her own artistry, other artists, and for sync placement. In addition, Gabby serves as a songwriting and lyric coach for writers across the globe, and strives to empower other writers to find their own, unique voice through the art of songwriting.  Read Less


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