How to Critique a Song Like a Pro

By | August 14, 2016
how to critique a song

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As a songwriter, you know how important it is to get honest feedback on your songs. But when another songwriter asks you for constructive criticism, do you know how to deliver it effectively? Let’s go over some tips for critiquing a song like a pro.

1. Give it your full attention

When you’re critiquing a song, you should give it the undivided attention it deserves. If you become distracted, you may miss the full shape of the melody, an essential line in the lyrics, and many more elements that can be crucial to the song. So, turn it up, close your eyes if you need to, and bring all of your songwriting knowledge to the table to suggest improvements.

2. Try the “sandwich” method

Originally taught to me by Bonnie Hayes, chair of Berklee College of Music’s songwriting department, the “sandwich” method of song critiquing has proven to be effective. Explaining what you think works well is just as important for songwriters to hear as what needs to be improved. Start with expressing what you liked about the song, then give your honest critique, and end with positive feedback and suggestions for improvement.

3. Be specific

It’s crucial to give as much detail as you can when you’re critiquing a song. It doesn’t matter whether you liked or disliked the song – try to figure out why it made you feel that way. The goal is to help take the song from good to great, and a lack of detail can leave a songwriter more confused than before. The more detail you give, the easier it is for the songwriter to revisit the song and apply your suggested edits. 

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4. Don’t critique just for the sake of critiquing

Not every song will have something that needs to be fixed as you analyze it. If you couldn’t find anything wrong with the songwriting, try giving it another listen. But if a song is good, then leave it how it is. Let the songwriter know which specific elements in the song that you enjoyed so that they can apply it to their future writing.


Joe Capalbo is an intern for SongwriterLink.

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