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Songwriting Strategies: A 360 Degree Approach (Part 1) with Mark Simos – Creative Strings Podcast Ep.14

Most musicians have struggled in one way or another with composing their own material.

Sound familiar? Listen in on the podcast below to gain strategies for starting, and finishing, more of your own works.

In the first of a two part interview, I sat down with my former colleague at the Berklee College of Music, Mark Simos, to discuss the strategies featured in his book Songwriting Strategies: A 360-Degree Approach. I find that these strategies apply to writing tunes in all genres, with or without lyrics, and they can help improvisers too. 

Songwriting Strategies Christian Howes violin

“Song seeds are the most valuable kind of starting process”

Scroll down to learn about:

  • The 360 degree approach
  • “Song Seeds” – how to capture a short idea and grow it into a full composition
  • Translating song seeds across variations in lyric, melody, rhythm and harmony
  • Using different forms of restraint to enhance your creativity

Huge thank you to our sponsor Electric Violin Shop, your one-stop shop for electric instruments, amps, gear, accessories, and most of all, expertise. Use code CHOWES at checkout and take 5% off of your order. Call 866-900-8400 to get your questions answered on “all things electric strings”.

While you are talking to EVS, be sure to ask them about the new Yamaha electric violin (you can check out my video of it here). I’ve been a Yamaha performing artist for almost 20 years now and am very proud to be a part of the Yamaha family.

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To learn more about the 360 degree songwriting approach visit Mark’s website www.360songwriting.com. The site includes Audio Examples, an “Ask the Prof” section where Mark answers readers questions and an email list too keep you up to date on all of Mark’s doings.


Here are several clips of presentations that Mark has given on songwriting:

Clips in this episode

  • “Nahatlatch” – by Mark Simos with Jenna Moynihan and Mairi Chaimbeul
  • Bach Partita No.3 in E major – performed by Itzhak Perlman
  • “Postlude” – by Christian Howes, from his 2016 release on Resonance Records, “American Spirit


Creative Strings Podcast explores intersections between creativity, music education, string playing, music business, and culture.


Thanks to our sponsors for supporting the Creative Strings Podcast. Their support makes it possible to invest in the production of each episode and bring you great stories like this.

Visit Electric Violin Shop, your one-stop shop for electric instruments, amps, gear, accessories, and expertise. Use code CHOWES at checkout and take 5% off of your order. Call 866-900-8400 to get your questions answered on “all things electric strings”.

Ask them about the Yamaha Electric Violin,(check out my video review here). 

Are you a string player/teacher interested in exploring improvisation, contemporary styles, and related subjects?

Take a free introductory private Skype lesson (limited avails) Attend an upcoming workshop

If you enjoyed my interview with Andrea Whitt, check out these related posts:

Full Interview with Jazz Violinist Regina Carter Creative Practice Strategies for Violin, Viola, and Cello Full Interview with Jazz Violinist Jason Anick

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“Creative Strings” initiatives with the founding of Camille Catherine, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the expansion and improvement of music education, with a focus on the development of curriculum and programs for classically trained string players and teachers to expand their skills as creative musicians.