3 Essential Tips for Writing a Great Musical Theatre Song

Education News   3 Essential Tips for Writing a Great Musical Theatre Song
Composer Sam Willmott shares some tips and tricks for aspiring songwriters competing in the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge.

The National Endowment for the Arts’ Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge returns for its second year, inviting high school songwriters from across the country.

New York City-based composer-lyricist Sam Willmott shares his three essential tips for writing a musical theatre song in the video above.

To submit your own original musical theatre song, visit the Songwriting Challenge section of the NEA website. The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge application deadline is January 5, 2018. Applicants are asked to submit lyrics and music for an original song that could appear in a musical.

The six chosen regional finalists will all have their songs published by Samuel French, while the national champion will also receive a $25,000 scholarship courtesy of the National Music Publishers Association S.O.N.G.S. Foundation (Supporting Our Next Generation of Songwriters).


Partnering with the NEA on the project are the American Theatre Wing, Playbill, and Disney Theatrical Productions.

The six regional winners will be selected in February 2018 for a free trip to New York City in April to work with professional musicians, singers, songwriters, and producers during a weekend of workshops. The performances of their song by those musicians and singers will be judged by a panel of musical theatre artists for the final competition, to be streamed live. One of the six will be selected as the national champion. The finalists’ songs will be published in a collection book that will be available on the Samuel French website.

"American musical theatre continues to thrive because of the emergence of exciting new voices and visions," said Samuel French CEO Nathan Collins in a statement. "Samuel French is delighted to encourage more young artists to bring their talents to the musical theatre world and expand the creative possibilities of this American art form."

The American Theatre Wing is working with the NEA to implement the program across the nation and is developing curriculum materials to guide and inspire young songwriters. All materials will be available for free, as they are developed, in the Songwriting Challenge web section. Playbill and Disney Theatrical Productions are program collaborators, providing funding and promotional support.

Angel Rodriguez from Seattle was chosen as the 2016 national champion. Join the songwriting Twitter conversation at #IWriteMusicals.

For information on Playbill's education platforms, visit PLAYBILLder and PlaybillEDU.

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