Student Songwriters

Four students share their process and experiences in the unique art form of songwriting.


Ada Green

Four students share their process and experiences in the unique art form of songwriting.


Dionne Peterson ‘25:

Q: What are your favorite genres to listen to and write?

A: I like listening to songs that have a big message. I feel like those songs stick with me more. I like lyrics that actually make sense and aren’t just a bunch of words. I like listening to deeper songs, that have a little more meaning than just love and repetitive lyrics.

Q: What is the hardest part about writing a song? How do you overcome it?

A: Putting the lyrics and the chords together. I’ll know how I want it to sound, but then putting how I want it to sound onto chords is hard, because you have to match the chords and the vibe you’re going for. It’s hard because they’re two separate things and you have to put them together. My way to overcome that is tweaking, tweaking, tweaking, experimenting, trying again and again and again until it sounds right.


Noah Olorin ‘24:

Q: What is the hardest part about writing music?

A: For me personally, it’s just sitting down and doing it. I’ll be like, ‘Oh yeah! I want to write a song!’ and then I’ll go do something else. I have all these ideas in my head and I’ll write some of them down sometimes, which pushes me towards the process where eventually I just have to sit down and do it. Once I’m in it, most of the time it usually feels pretty in flow. The one other thing that does get in the way when I am writing music in general is my own assessment of its worth. ‘Oh, I don’t really like this’ or ‘this isn’t very good’ and that’ll convince me to stop writing whatever I’m writing. I really have to convince myself, ‘Okay, no, just get through, even if you don’t like it now you can just keep working with the idea.’ So, really not worrying too much about how I view its value in the moment and just having the process be enjoyable in of itself is something I’m working on.

Q: What is your favorite part about writing music?

A: As a form as self-expression, music is so multifaceted. When you hear it all come together, the different parts, it’s like this emotional, uproaring orchestra that just gives you that little buzz that other things have in different ways, but that music has in a very specific way. This massive emotional dynamic range in this method that isn’t normally how we communicate. It’s this way to communicate emotions that I think can connect to a different part of your brain than just speech or visual art, which all have their own beautiful capacities, but it’s just another way to really make people feel something.


Maura Jaye ‘22:

Q: Briefly describe your composition process.

A: Sometimes, I go with the method where I actually write a poem first. And then, I write the chords and the melody and I apply the poem verses as lyrics. Other times, I’ll start first thing with the chords. It kind of just comes to me naturally. Then, once I have a progression that I like, I hum a melody. From there, I have to come up with lyrics, which can be really hard. Something I will say is, throughout my composition process, I tend to take a ton of little voice memos—little snippets of different parts so I can remember. Then, I compile them all together.

Q: What kinds of topics do you think make the best songs?

A: Love obviously is a good one. I find a lot of times, I end up writing songs that really don’t apply to me. I’m just writing about some fictional character, some person I don’t know, some imaginary person that maybe actually has no construct in my mind. I’ve tried writing about my own experiences and my own perspective, but I find that it often doesn’t agree with me. Usually I write about someone else—a made up story. Love and heartbreak make good topics as always.

Q: How do you come up with a topic to write about?

A: The topic comes to me after I start writing. I write the first lyric, or maybe the chorus first, whatever happens. When I first start writing, that line is probably the vibe I’m feeling at the time. From there, I ask, ‘Okay, what does this imply? Where am I going to go with this?’ And then I start to formulate the topic of what the song is going to be. If my first line is something like, ‘Walking out the door’ then I’ll ask, ‘Is this going to be a breakup song? Is this going to be a fierce, girl power song?’ I feel like the topic comes after I start writing.


Molly Morouse ‘23

Q: Briefly describe your composition process.

A: I have two different ways of making songs. The first way consists of finding chords that I think sound cool together (usually on guitar or piano) and then messing around with melodies until I find something that I like. From there, I’ll write lyrics to those melodies and write them down. The second, and more common, way that I write songs is finding a beat online and humming melodies until I find something that I like. With these pre-made beats, I can produce something much more professional and record and mix my vocals on my computer. I usually go through a few versions of mixing before I get to the one that sounds the best.

Q: What kinds of topics do you think make the best songs?

A: I’ve always loved journaling and poetry, so for me, songwriting is just an extension of that. I write songs about how I’m feeling, what I’m experiencing, or often times a hypothetical situation. For me, I’ve found that I make the best songs about my own emotions and experiences because it becomes much less generic and much more personal. I’ve written about being a teenager, love, and random things like good weather.

Q: What made you try writing music?

A: I’ve always had a passion for music, both my own and others, so music has really turned into a way for me to express myself. I love turning my own experiences into something that I can listen to and preserve.