The Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association’s second annual Songs of the Susquehanna program is accepting original songs inspired by the river, its tributaries, and the aquatic resources that depend on it until January 31.
“This songwriting event is the perfect motivation to bring your songwriting ideas to life that may be on the shelf, waiting for the right moment to shine,” said Johanna Kodlick, who submitted the song “Back to Blue” in last year’s program.
“The sense of community surrounding this project is warm and welcoming, so it’s a safe place to let your talents unfold. You never know what residual benefits you might experience from just taking the leap.
Don Shappelle, who had two songs made from the album Songs of the Susquehanna Volume 1, shared that writing music, for him, can be different with each song.
“Sometimes for me lyrics come first, then a melody and chord structure. Other times it can be the other way around with a melody and chord riff in my head and then a script. he said. “I suggest you follow your heart and write about something that is dear to you, then try to find an interesting melody to associate with those inspired words.”
That inspiration can come from a variety of places, suggested Hannah Bingman, whose song “Susquehanna & River” is on the album Songs of the Susquehanna Volume 1.
“Read, read, read and be inspired” she said. “Create a story from the one you read or tell your own. Everything is valid.
When you have an idea, it’s important to let it breathe, so to speak, suggested Van Wagner, whose submission “New Song for an Old River” is on Songs of the Susquehanna Volume 1.
“I learned not to force. If a song flows, I write it fast” he said. “If I don’t, he’s gone and I lose him.”
Shappelle agreed: “Usually a song that’s forced will tend to sound stiff. It’s the soul and the conviction behind a song that sets it apart. The beauty of songwriting, however, is that anyone can give it a try and maybe find a winner.
It’s important, Wagner added, that during the writing process, to do it for yourself and not worry about what other people may think.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough – it’s never about what other people think,” he said. “Make songs because they’re you. If other people like them, great, but it’s never about that.
Kodlick urged everyone to get involved, admitting that his participation last year gave him unexpected benefits personally and may have an equally profound impact on others this year.
“Submitting my song to the 2021 event has given me one of the greatest cathartic benefits of dealing with the grief of my father’s death,” she said. “The outpouring of love and support in response to my song via this channel has been overwhelmingly positive.
The Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association serves an 11,000 square mile watershed of the Susquehanna River, including Sullivan, Lycoming, Clinton, Union, and Northumberland counties. Learn more at www.middlesusquehannariverkeeper.org