There is nothing quite as frightening yet potentially rewarding as collaboration. It is scary enough to share your finished song with the world, but to reveal your rough ideas, your unpolished phrases to another person can be incredibly intimidating.

So why do it? Because creativity thrives in a collaborative community. One idea sparks another, which can lead to an entirely new direction for the song than could be realized individually. The fulfillment that comes through teamwork and the opportunity it provides for growth as a songwriter, far outweight the risks.

While it’s true that a solitary songwriter can compose a good song, far more hit songs have been composed by songwriting duos than by individuals (as have most of the great hymns of the church). So why not take a chance and give it a try?

In his book, The Craft of Christian Songwriting, Robert Sterling shares some ideas on collaborative relationships. First, you should look for a “well-matched co-writer”—someone whose abilities complement your own. Although there are numerous variations on the actual interaction (lyricist and tunesmith, big picture and detailed craftsman, starter and finisher) the relationship should include two key elements—creative chemistry and mutual respect. While listening to a prospective collaborator’s songs, if you think, “I wish I’d written that,” then you have the second ingredient. The only way to determine if you have chemistry is to go on that “first date”. Try to write a song together and see if you hit it off.

Once you’ve found a potential collaborator, there are several steps you can follow to help ensure a successful songwriting session. First, if you don’t know your collaborator well, have a pre-session get together to get to know one another prior to your writing session. It’s easier to be open with a friend than it is with a stranger. When you do meet, come prepared. Bring several ideas with you. This is much easier than starting from scratch. Choose one idea (hopefully one you’re both excited about) and work on it together. Remember, there are no wrong ideas, especially in the brainstorming stage. Be honest, yet kind. If you don’t like your co-writer’s idea, offer an alternative. When your collaborator has a brilliant idea, be sure to tell him so. Be generous with your praise, your ideas, (don’t save the best ones for yourself) and the credit.

So where do you find a collaborator? You can start where you are, in your local church, with other members of your praise team or worship band. You can also find collaborators through your local songwriters guild or Christian Songwriters Association. Of course, your collaborator doesn’t have to live in the same town, or state or country for that matter, thanks to Steve Jobs and Al Gore. You can collaborate with songwriters all over the world without leaving the comfort of your own home.

So go to your local songwriting group, check out original music from artists on sites like Reverbnation, or join an online community like Songwritingfever—let’s get together and write some great music.

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