Scene at Berklee: Songwriting Sprint

Thirteen student teams spent a Saturday writing, workshopping, and performing original songs.

February 27, 2020

Scene at Berklee presents snapshots and stories from the hundreds of clinics, workshops, performances, and other events that take place in our community year-round.

While hackathons or "sprints" are commonplace in the tech startup world, musicians sometimes resist the idea of creating on demand. But a little pressure can spark inspiration. At Berklee’s first-ever Songwriting Sprint, held on campus this month, 13 student teams took on the challenge, receiving a prompt (“The first or last time I’ve…”) and four hours to write a complete song. They performed the resulting pieces for a judges’ panel that included Bonnie Hayes, chair of the Songwriting Department, and faculty members Erin Barra, Mark Simos, and Rodney Alejandro.

Produced by the Songwriting Department’s student leadership council (SLC), the event brought together participants from a variety of majors, experience levels, and musical genres. Barra, the faculty mentor for SLC, said she wanted to create a space for students with varied experience to come together for an engaging day of music making. Hayes agreed, saying the event “invites newer students who are still trying to find their scene into the world of performing for each other and meeting students who share their interests.” The event gave students a chance to hone multiple skills—composition, collaboration, and performance—while building relationships and having fun.

Learn more: Songwriting majors at Berklee learn to master melody, harmony, arranging, and lyric writing to build a competitive portfolio of original songs.

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