The 2019-2020 STEP UP! Frederick Student Songwriting Contest is here! Beginning November 15, if you are a Frederick County middle or high school student, please submit your song subject Step 1.

2019 STEP UP! Student Songwriting Contest.

You DON’T need to play an instrument, have a great voice or be able to read music. You DO need to write a creative and powerful song on your own or with others.

Sign up now to receive information about the 2019-2020 Contest. Fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

ABOUT THE CONTEST

Chords of Courage is changing the conversation from the demoralizing and cynical to the hopeful and inspirational – one song at a time. We have created the first songwriting contest of its kind in the world and will be conducting it in Frederick, Maryland. The contest is open to Frederick County middle and high school age students and encourages them to use their creativity to write dynamic and powerful songs about people of particular courage.

We Use Songwriting as a Catalyst for Social Change

Winning songs will be presented at the Awards Concert, Saturday, March 28, 2020, 7:30 PM at Frederick Community College. Student songwriters then take leadership roles to encourage the audience to join them in acts of STEPPING UP! inspired by the courageous people about whom they wrote their songs. It’s a great way to empower teens to be active members of their community and an incredibly profound experience for everyone.

By creating socially conscious songs today,
we help create socially conscious citizens for tomorrow.

We are honored that Frederick County Public Schools, while not a sponsor, strongly encourages student participation to complement academic growth and endeavors. We hope this covers everything you need to know but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask on this form. We are here to help you be as successful as possible.

“The most amazing thing about the Contest is the level of talent and interest from the participants. The young people invest so much of themselves in creating these very personal songs and through their eyes we get an innocent yet often more profound view of the world. Again and again I found myself simply blown away. Its a joy to be a part of it. I can’t wait to see how it grows in the coming years!”
Derek McGinty, multi-award winning journalist and commentator
Emcee of the STEP UP! Student Songwriting Contest Awards Concert

Chords of Courage is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization making your contribution tax deductible.

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STEP 1 – APPLICATION

APPLICATION – A 2 Step Process

STEP 1: This song contest asks you to challenge yourself by writing a song about a courageous person or group who meets the following criteria: Someone who has performed an act of courage and suffered in the process or performed an act of inspiration born of tragedy, whose actions resulted in significant, positive change BETWEEN 1970 AND TODAY.

Your song subject could be:

  • famous or not famous
  • from the local community, across the country or around the world
  • young, old or in between, deceased
  • from any racial, ethnic or religious background

 

This person needs to be someone who:

  • you think is amazing
  • meets the song subject criteria
  • inspires you!

 

You can hear songs written by both students and accomplished songwriters about courageous people who meet the song subject criteria (e.g., Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, Malala Yousafzai, Congressman John Lewis and others who overcame great difficulties and STEPPED UP in big ways to make a difference in the lives of others) by going to Our Music.

To be sure you’re on the right track, the Contest Committee must approve your song subject first so please submit this form. Once you receive your Contest number, you can begin writing!

We Use Songwriting as a Catalyst for Social Change

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All questions should be directed to: Stepup@chordsofcourage.org

STEP 2 – SONG SUBMISSION

STEP 2: OFFICIAL ENTRY FORM

Once your song subject has been approved, the writing begins. As you research and get to know your song subject, identify those things that you want others to know about this incredible person. Tell their story in the most interesting and compelling way possible. Remember, your goal is to write a fabulous song that will inspire listeners to want to STEP UP! and make a difference just like your song subject!

Songs can be in any music genre: rock, folk, country, blues, R&B, hip hop, classical and more. Just remember, a great song supersedes any particular genre.

In an effort to help you write the best song you can, we are offering
3 FREE SONGWRITING WORKSHOPS
Saturday mornings, 10:00 – 1:00, February 1, 8 & 15
YMCA, 1000 N Market St, Frederick

Lunch and snacks provided
Open to Frederick County middle and high school students
Space is limited so secure yours: RSVP here and show up ready to write!

To submit your song, you will need:

  • The Song Subject Acceptance Number you will have received from us in STEP 1, once your song subject has been approved
  • Your song (on MP3) and lyrics (text)
  • A signed Rules & Regulations Consent Form
  • $20 per song

Instructions

  1. Paste lyrics into the form below. Be sure to include the Song Subject Acceptance Number you will have received from us in STEP 1, once your song subject has been approved.
  2. Upload MP3 using the form below.
  3. Download this Rules & Regulations Consent Form – Note that the Rules & Regulations Consent Form must be signed by each student collaborating on your song and a parent/guardian for each student.
  4. Complete the online Application Form below for each songwriter.
  5. Scan and upload the signed Rules & Regulations Consent Form.
  6. Pay $20 per song.
  7. All submissions must be made by Sunday, February 23, 2020, 11:59 PM.

If you have any questions or difficulties with this process, please let us know. We’re here to help you!

Please provide the following information for each person who wrote this song:

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All questions should be directed to: Stepup@chordsofcourage.org

IMPORTANT DATES

IMPORTANT DATES including FREE SONGWRITING SESSIONS

Friday, November 15: Contest Opens, song submissions accepted

 

JANUARY

Keep writing. Keep researching. Be sure to attend the Free Songwriting Workshops in February.

 

FEBRUARY

3 free songwriting workshops

February 1, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM,
YMCA, 1000 N Market St, Frederick

February 8, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM,
YMCA, 1000 N Market St, Frederick

February 15, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM,
YMCA, 1000 N Market St, Frederick

Lunch and snacks included.

Space is limited so be sure to RSVP here and show up ready to write! (more information in the free Songwriting Workshops section)

Song Submission Deadline is to Sunday, Feb. 23, 11:59 PM. No more songs will be accepted after that date.

 

MARCH

Friday, March 6: Finalists and Emerging Songwriters will be informed by today.

Sunday, March 8: Ticket sales begin

Saturday, March 28, (7:30 p.m.): 2020 STEP UP! Student Songwriting Awards Concert, Frederick Community College

To purchase tickets in advance, please contact Stepup@chordsofcourage.org

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All questions should be directed to: Stepup@chordsofcourage.org

AWARDS CONCERT & PRIZES

AWARDS CONCERT & PRIZES

Exciting STEP UP! Student Song Writing Awards Concert Saturday March 28, 7:30 pm JBK Theater, Frederick Community College
Winning songs performed by The STEP UP! Band.

High School:

  • 1st – $400, Up to 8 hours of studio time for your winning song to be recorded,  FCC (Frederick Community College) Scholarship valued at up to $1,500 to a high school graduate, YMCA summer 2019 High School Membership
  • 2nd – $250, FCC (Frederick Community College) Scholarship valued at up to $1,000 to a high school graduate, summer 2019 YMCA High School Membership
  • 3rd – $100,  FCC (Frederick Community College) Scholarship valued at up to $500 to a high school graduate, summer 2019 YMCA High School Membership

Middle School:

  • 1st – $400, FCC (Frederick Community College) Scholarship covering 12, 30-minute composition or music lessons, Up to 8 hours of studio time for your winning song to be recorded, YMCA summer 2019 Youth Membership
  • 2nd – $250, FCC (Frederick Community College) Scholarship covering 12, 30-minute composition or music lessons, YMCA summer 2019 Youth Membership
  • 3rd – $100, FCC (Frederick Community College) Scholarship covering 12, 30-minute composition or music lessons, YMCA summer 2019 Youth Membership

Emerging Songwriters:

  • Summer 2019 YMCA High School Membership and $25

All winners:

  • Your name, song title and STEP UP! project and/or words of inspiration in the program and/or online

STEP UP! Volunteer Vocal Mentor

STEP UP! Frederick Vocal Mentor Katherine Ott is available to work with student finalists on their STEP UP! Awards Concert presentations and recordings, where applicable. Katherine was a vocal student at Rocky Ridge Music Center in Estes Park, CO. Her past accomplishments include placement as finalist and semi-finalist in the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest sponsored by the Songwriter’s Association of Washington. She has been performing since her teens and is currently a vocalist and guitarist for both the country band Brushfire and the acoustic duo Safe Harbor who were twice named as the GigMasters Rising Star Award Winner for Top Variety Duo.

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All questions should be directed to: Stepup@chordsofcourage.org

FREE SONGWRITING WORKSHOPS AND TIPS

 FREE SONGWRITING WORKSHOPS AND TIPS

We are offering 3 free songwriting sessions lead by award winning songwriter and STEP UP! Frederick workshop leader par excellence Andrew McKnight. Attend as many as you can and be sure to secure your spot:

February 1, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, YMCA, 1000 N Market St, Frederick

February 8, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, YMCA, 1000 N Market St, Frederick

February 15, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, YMCA, 1000 N Market St, Frederick

Lunch and snacks included.

Space is limited so secure yours: RSVP here and show up ready to write!
RSVP to Stepup@chordsofcourage.org

Since permanently leaving his corporate environmental engineering career in 1996, award-winning folk/Americana artist Andrew McKnight’s musical journey has traced nearly a million miles of blue highways, and earned him a wealth of critical acclaim and enthusiastic fans for his captivating performances and seven recordings. Andrew’s solo performances are powerful and entertaining one-man theatre, delivered with warmth and down-home comfort. He weaves his finely-crafted songs and nimble flatpicking together with humorous stories and poetic drama, while the musical soundscape traverses influences from Appalachia, spooky slide and jazzy blues, feisty anthems, and rustic folk.

Songwriting Tips
Just as the oyster is initially annoyed by the piece of sand within it,
Spitting and churning and covering it with layers of nacre,
Songwriting can put you through the paces.
If you are willing to go the length, you can arrive at a wonderful conclusion.
So be patient and always be good to yourself!
First and foremost, select a song subject that both meets the Chords of Courage criteria and whose story inspires you.

Song Subject Criteria Reminder:

Someone who has performed an act of courage and suffered in the process or performed an act of inspiration born of tragedy, whose actions resulted in significant, positive change BETWEEN 1970 AND TODAY.

This person needs to be someone who
you think is amazing
meets the song subject criteria
inspires you!
Your song subject could be:
famous or not famous
from the local community, across the country or around the world
young, old or in between, deceased
from any racial, ethnic or religious background

Get to know your song subject well. Dig in to his/her life. Get to know what made/makes him/her tick. Remember why you selected this person as your song subject of courage. Discoverwhat inspires you about this person and her/her struggle?

Outline your thoughts.
Don’t waste words.
What was your point? Did you make it?
Look for irony, contrast
While this can be frustrating, have fun with it.

Now, figure out what are the most important things to include in your song. What is it you want listeners of your song to know and feel about your hero.
How do you want to make those who hear it feel?

Do you have a melody in your head? If so, how do you want it to fit with your lyrics. If so, what is the genre (style of music)? How does that music make your feel? Why did you select that melody?

If you don’t have a melody in your head, what genre do you hear as the lyrics come to you? What tempo (speed)?

 

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All questions should be directed to: Stepup@chordsofcourage.org

JUDGING

JUDGING

Only the songwriting elements of the songs are considered when determining the winners. Every songwriting entry is reviewed and judged on the songwriting merits alone. Production quality is not taken into consideration. We are looking for great songwriters, not great producers. A simple home or live recording of a song has the same chance of winning the contest as a professional recording. Vocal ability is not taken into consideration.

We are offering 3 free songwriting sessions for teens interested in participating in the Contest. We encourage everyone considering submitting songs to attend at least one of them.

Submissions are judged on: creativity, originality, lyrics, melody, how the lyrics and melody work together meeting the song subject criteria and overall likeability. Decisions made by the judging panel are final. Judges include musicians, songwriters, performers, composers, arrangers, music teachers and/or people affiliated with the music business.

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All questions should be directed to: Stepup@chordsofcourage.org

RULES and REGULATIONS

RULES & REGULATIONS/CONSENT FORM

By submitting a song, you agree that:

  1. All songs must be original and all co-writers must be credited and part of the application.
  2. All songs must meet the STEP UP! Student Songwriting Contest song subject criteria:
    Someone who has performed an act of courage and suffered in the process or performed an act of inspiration born of tragedy, whose actions resulted in significant, positive change BETWEEN 1970 AND TODAY.
  3. You and/or your middle and/or high school student songwriting team wrote at least 90% of the song, that it was not stolen from another songwriter and was never sampled from another song.
  4. Production value and quality will not be considered so don’t worry if your audio is not the highest quality. Just be sure we can understand the words.
  5. Only MP3s will be accepted.
  6. Entry fee is $20 per song. Submit as many songs as you want. Entry fees are non-refundable and submissions will not be returned.
  7. You will get your song subject approved by Chords of Courage and the Contest before submitting your song.
  8. If you are submitting more than 1 song, you must send each one separately.
  9. You have reviewed all the Contest material and will adhere to all aspects.
  10. You reside and/or attend school in Frederick County Maryland.
  11. You allow us to use your photo/image and your song on the website, in press releases, promotional materials, social media and other products and communication strategies of the Contest and Chords of Courage.
  12. That you retain the rights to your song other than rights you have given to the Contest and Chords of Courage in item 11.
  13. First place winners are receiving up to 8 hours of free studio time to have their winning songs recorded. Chords of Courage reserves the right to determine all artistic decisions regarding the recording. Winning minor students who attend any of the recording sessions must be accompanied by an adult approved by the parent and/or guardian.
  14. If you win in any category, you will work with Chords of Courage and the Contest to create a STEP UP! to make a difference service project that you will share with friends, family, neighbors, school, your religious institution, and other communities and may have the opportunity to share it with the audience at the STEP UP! Awards Concert, March 28, 2020.
  15. Whether or not you win, you will make every effort to attend the STEP UP! Awards Concert, March 28, 2020.
  16. Chords of Courage and the Contest are not responsible for website down-time, outages, etc.
  17. The laws of Maryland apply to this agreement.

DOWNLOAD CONSENT FORM

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All questions should be directed to: Stepup@chordsofcourage.org

CONGRATULATIONS WINNERS!

Congratulations to all the winners of the
2019 STEP UP! Student Songwriting Contest

Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride written by Jazlyn Sligh, ASCAP, Jarii Publishing. Recorded, edited, and mixed at Torchlight Productions Recording Studio in Beallsville, MD.

High School
1st place, Jazlyn Sligh for, “Freedom Ride”
2nd place, Peter Johnson for, “Dawn”
3rd place tie:
Ada Johnson for, “The Journey of Life”
Charity Parrott for, “Together Going Far”
Emerging Songwriter:
Jazlyn Sligh for, “More Than Capable”
Patience Parrott for, “Over Soon”

Middle School
1st place, Kaiya Feiertag for, “Back of the Bus”
2nd place, Malia Smaha for, “Never Again”
3rd place, Paul Johnson for, “Nightmare Land”
Emerging Songwriters:
Rachel Ullman & Vivian Renkey for, “Let’s Roll”
Mary Joy Johnson for, “The Flight of Freedom”

Congratulations to all the winners of the
2018 STEP UP! Student Songwriting Contest

New Generation

Land of the Free

High School
1st Place, Samantha Johnson for, “New Generation”
2nd Place, Lily Chalkley for, “High Schoolers Lament”
3rd Place, Allie Rubin for, “In My Memory”
4th Place, Allie Rubin for, “Down”

Middle School
1st Place, Vivian Renkey for, “Land of the Free”
2nd Place, Catherine Brennan for, “We Could Be”
3rd Place, Rachel Ullman for, “Never Give Up”
4th place tie: KaiyaFeiertag for, “For What Is Right” and Mia Ferraro for, “Rival”

Honorable Mentions

Middle School
Emily Hartz& AshlynGussio for, “Thought That Changed The World”
RaphaelaSmaldone for, “Morningstar”
Mark Turk for, “Good Plans”

High School
Cierra Carpenter for, “Tears”
Trevor Carter for, “Inside My Head”
Samantha Johnson for, “Stand Together”

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OUR SPONSORS & PARTNERS

BE A SPONSOR

Please help us help children learn how to STEP UP! to make a difference in Frederick County through songwriting and acts of civic engagement. Chords of Courage is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization making your contribution tax deductible.

You Can Be Part of the STEP UP! Student Songwriting Contest
using Music as a Catalyst for Social Change

We expect to reach well over 1,000 people through this unique and exciting project.

We welcome all donations to empower students to STEP UP! and make a difference in Frederick County:

Our Wonderful Partners, Sponsors and Advocates include: Delaplaine Foundation, Ausherman Family Foundation, Frederick Community College, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Frederick County Public Schools, Spanish Speaking Community of Maryland, Asian American Center of Frederick, New Spire Arts, Shab Row Recording, Torchlight Productions, YMCA, Frederick Children’s Chorus, Make N Music, Man on the Line BMI, Boys & Girls Club, Student Homelessness Initiative Partnership, Great American Song Contest

We firmly believe that by creating socially conscious music with young people today, we help to create socially conscious citizens for tomorrow.

Chords of Courage, changing the conversation one song at a time

Tightly woven into the fabric of Frederick, their philanthropy has spanned generations and is perpetuated today as a private family foundation dedicated to enriching lives through community endeavors.
Empowers the passion for change in Frederick County and sees it as a thriving community of vibrant spaces and places, with a superior quality of life, and strong and collaborative nonprofit organizations.
The Great American Song Contest is designed to offer songwriters a positive alternative to the “big-cash-prize” corporate contests. The Great American Song Contest emphasizes networking and educational benefits, multiple awards and practical prizes for songwriters. It is designed to ensure that all participants get a fair and thorough review from knowledgeable music-industry pros.
The Performing Arts Music Trust Fund was founded by The Community Foundation of Frederick County to support dance, musical, theatrical, and live performances for organizations and lessons for individuals.
Here at Spanish Speaking Community of Maryland, Inc., we are driven by a single goal; to do our part in making the world a better place for all! We do this by empowering low-income families & immigrants from diverse backgrounds by promoting self-sufficiency, greater social change, education and legal rights.
The Asian American Center of Frederick provides vital services to assist immigrants and minorities reach their full potential. Our services include interpreter/translation services, ESL and Citizenship classes, mentoring, housing, education, employment and business development to meet their needs and improve quality of life.
In partnership with individuals, organizations, and businesses, the mission of the Frederick Community College Foundation is to remove barriers to a community college education and provide financial support so all students can succeed and positively contribute to our community.
New Spire Arts inspires creative engagement from all facets of the community by providing programming and education in, about, and through the performing arts.
Our YMCA works collaboratively with community partners to improve the lives of children, adults, families, and the entire community. Our purpose is to strengthen and enrich the development of individuals and families through quality programs and services that build a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. Integral to everything that we do are our core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.
The mission of the Frederick Children’s Chorus, founded in 1985, is to bring children together for the joyful exploration and celebration of singing. The chorus offers an opportunity to all children in the community to learn to sing well and become confident in their ability to read musical notation, study selections of music from classical, popular, opera, Broadway, and multi-national folk music repertoire. The chorus involves over 100 singers ages 8–18 and has performed in many venues including festivals in New Orleans, Denver, New York, and at Carnegie Hall.
Student Homelessness Initiative Partnership of Frederick County, a non-profit public charity founded in early 2014. Quite simply, we exist because there are school children in our community that need our help. They live in every city, town, village and hamlet in Frederick County. In school year 2016-17, homeless students were found in 61 out of the 66 schools in the Frederick County School System (FCPS). This issue cuts across all grades, all ethnicities. And the numbers continue to grow each school year.
Shab Row Recording Studio is simply one large room that evokes the psychedelic style of Greenwich Village’s Electric Lady Studios. The open layout is called a clubhouse design. There’s no wall or a glass window. Everybody is all in the same space during sessions. Owner Doug Smith says, “Some of my favorite albums were recorded in this kind of setup. Get a space. Set up the equipment. The engineer is in a room with everybody else. The band just rehearses and records in one process. You don’t really draw lines between the songwriting and the rehearsing and the recording.”
TLP Recording Studio caters to the needs of artists of all genres who are looking for a more intimate, relaxed atmosphere in which to record their albums and demos. The studio features a ProTools based platform with a wonderful front end (microphone preamps, compressors, etc.) and microphone selection. Jeff Feit is the recording/audio engineer and received his formal education from The Omega Studios’ School of Applied Recording Arts & Sciences.
Tomy Wright (Man on the Line Music) is a music composer with Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). He is also an advisor to non-profits in greater Frederick County Maryland pursuing their Section 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, organizational effectiveness, event planning, marketing and publicity.

Since 1984, Make ‘N’ Music has been Frederick’s premiere music store. Featuring top brands in the music industry, this one time “Mom & Pop” shop has grown into Frederick’s largest instrument, lesson and musical equipment sales and rental store.

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All questions should be directed to: Stepup@chordsofcourage.org