Lessons in Songcraft from Kenny Rogers

Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries.

Lesson 1: It’s about the song, not about you, so collaborate.

Real artists write and play their own songs.

Lesson 2: Tag melodic phrases with a two-note lick for embellishment.

“She Believes In Me” by Kenny Rogers

Lesson 3: Modulate a half step up to keep the song fresh.

“Coward Of The County” by Kenny Rogers

Lesson 4: Songs don’t have to be about romantic love.

Lesson 5: Don’t sing the notes. Be the character.

“The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers…Bonus! Can you spot the modulation discussed in Lesson 3?


  1. Ryan Holiday, “Follow the Canvas Strategy,” in Ego Is the Enemy (New York, NY: Portfolio/Penguin, 2016).
  2. Uta Hagen, “Identity,” in Respect for Acting (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2008), p. 29.



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