People write songs about everything — teenage dreams, banana pancakes and daylight are just a few of the themes that have graced the airwaves of late. And usually, the only music people hear is written by artists who have made it “big.” But today, Ann Arbor will get the chance to hear original songs written by students at the University.

The Ark at UMMA Student Songwriters Series Finale

Tonight at 8 p.m.
UMMA
Free

Each month this semester, The Ark has held a competition in which students from the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College submitted original songs. The four winners of the competition are featured in a performance at the end of the month.

Tomorrow, the winners from January, February and March will all return to compete in the final round of competition with the chance to win a live performance at UMMA and the opportunity to be an opening act at the Ark.

“Other people exercise or work out to de-stress themselves,” said Dan Kim, a ‘U’ alum and one of March’s finalists in the series. “But for me, music is my way to get away from the world. It energizes me and keeps me sane.”

Music has always been a part of Kim’s life, but the singer-songwriter didn’t start writing music until he went to college. He found a few classes in LSA that offered courses in songwriting, which spurred his interest in the area.

“They teach you a lot about creativity and expressing yourself,” Kim said. “There’s a lot of collaboration.”

Engineering freshman Hobey Kuhn, another March finalist, started learning guitar when he was in eighth grade.

“I started writing songs early on, but they were really undeveloped,” Kuhn said. “I always stuck with this really typical verse and chorus.”

As Kuhn grew up and gained more experiences to draw upon, his style changed significantly.

“Now I just fool around on the guitar with cool chord changes until it sparks something,” Kuhn said. “Then I’ll start singing a melody, and then the words fit in with the rest of the song.

“(My music) used to sound more like Nirvana, Vampire Weekend or Spoon, but now I’m going toward something more like Radiohead and Coldplay”

Last spring, Kuhn and his brother built a recording studio in their backyard, and he recorded an entire album under the name Resident Scout.

Kim has also used collaboration as a source for growth, forming a band called Dan Kim and The Blueberry Incident over a month ago. The group has performed at several Ann Arbor venues, including Bar Louie.

Music will continue to be the main mode of expression for both Kim and Kuhn.

“It will always be a passion of mine,” Kim said. “In June I’ll be applying to med school, but music will always be a part of my life. We’ll see where it takes me.”

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