The Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection contains over 29,000 pieces of popular American sheet music dating back to 1780. The collection covers everything from political elections and the Civil War to temperance, courtship, and cooking. While the Levy Collection includes lots of old standards, many of its songs are nearly lost to history. Some haven't been performed in over 100 years!
To bring the Levy Collection's incredible music to life, we are calling on musicians to Save Our Songs by creating new performances of historical songs from the collection. You'll be helping to bring back lost American history, and you could win great prizes, thanks to our partner Sheet Music Plus.
The Save Our Songs contest is open to musicians of all skill levels and backgrounds, so choose a song, grab your instrument of choice, and start bringing back lost history!
What is the Lester S Levy Collection?
The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music consists of over 29,000 pieces of American popular music. This music was generously donated to The Johns Hopkins University by Lester S. Levy over a period of years starting in 1976 and is now housed in the Special Collections Division of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library. The collection spans the years 1780 to 1980, but its strength is its thorough documentation of nineteenth-century America through popular music.
How should I choose a song to perform?
Choose any song you like! We encourage you to think about preserving rare, obscure songs, especially where no other recording exists. We also encourage you to think about your own skills and interests. Are you a Civil War re-enactor? Choose a song from that period! Love dogs? The collection includes hundreds of songs you might like.
Where do I get the music?
You can view sheet music scores at the newly-redesigned Levy Collection website, or buy them at Sheet Music Plus for a nominal fee. If you're able, we encourage you to purchase the songs through Sheet Music Plus, as a portion of the sales go back to preserving and digitizing the collection.
How do I record and upload my performance?
You can record in any way you like, with a webcam, smartphone, or any other recording device. All submissions must be uploaded to Youtube. This tutorial provides basic info on uploading a Youtube video.
I don't feel comfortable having a video of myself online. Does the performance need to include my face?
No! Performances don't need to include video of you. We encourage you to think about other ways to illustrate your performance. You can zoom in on your hands as you play, or even upload an audio file and include a background image. For any images you include, though, make sure that you own the copyrights or they are in the public domain.
How are entries judged?
The winners will be chosen by Gado Images and the Sheet Music Plus team. Judging criteria are:
- Musical Quality: What is the overall musical quality of the entry? Is the song performed correctly on the instrument of choice?
- Performance: How engaging is the entrant's performance?
- Creativity: Does the entrant take a unique, interesting perspective on the song and/or performance?
When will winners be announced?
Winners will be announced in early 2018.
Can I share my video on social media?
Absolutely! Please use the hashtag #SaveOurSongs and tweet @GadoImages or @SheetMusicPlus