Something to sing about: The Johns Hopkins song contest

Entries for original songs will be accepted Sept. 15 through Nov. 16

The Johns Hopkins community takes pride in collaborating across the disciplines. So a contest to write a new school song should have plenty of people sitting down together with their guitars, pitch pipes, and keyboards.

Of course, solo acts are welcome, too—in fact all Johns Hopkins students, faculty, alumni, and staff are encouraged to let their inner songwriters shine in time for the JHU Song Contest.

"What better way to create a song that captures our spirit—past, present, and future—than to engage our entire community in composing one?" said President Ronald J. Daniels.

A master's degree in composition isn't required (though you know, you can get one here). Neither is an obsession with The Voice or the rhyming skills of Iggy Azalea. As President Daniels said, the only prerequisite is school spirit.

Hosted by Homewood Student Affairs, the Peabody Conservatory, and the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association, the contest runs Monday, Sept. 15, through Sunday, Nov. 16, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

The complete rules are posted online, but here's the gist: Entries should be memorable, easy to sing, instill feelings of pride and affection for JHU, and clock in at 3 minutes or less. Each person can submit up to two songs. You can submit as an individual or as part of a team, with a maximum of four people per team. Submissions must include the score, lyrics, and an audio or video link to a performance of your song.

Special consideration will be given to songs that incorporate lyrics from past Hopkins songs, like "The Johns Hopkins Ode," which is sometimes considered our school song. The goal of the contest is to come up with a new, more contemporary song built on a sense of tradition that will quickly work its way into the hearts and minds of all Hopkins students and graduates, said Eric Beatty, director of the Homewood Arts Program, who is overseeing the contest.

"It's a 'one university' moment, another step toward creating community on campus and with alumni as well. We want it to be a song that you sing years from now when you get together with your JHU classmates."

If you don't happen to have a Peabody pal or a music degree in your pocket, no worries, Beatty said. The nine-member committee of students, faculty, and alumni won't choose the five song finalists based on the experience of the songwriters.

"We know there is a lot of musical talent in the Hopkins community," Beatty said. "And we encourage people to apply, even if they haven't taken a course or worked professionally in music."

Looking for a little insider information about what the song committee has in mind? Here's a tip from one of the judges.

"My advice to the songwriters is to look at and listen to other great school songs and decide for themselves what it is about those songs that make them so great?" said Bjorn Grina, who earned a bachelor's degree in music from Peabody this year and is now pursuing a graduate performance diploma in percussion at Peabody. "Then, using those ideas, write their own original song based on those things that resonated with them."