Calhoun sophomore Kurt Schneider taught himself piano in eleventh grade, now he’s winning songwriting competitions. Read on to find out what he’s been doing in the meantime.

Scene&Heard: Can you talk about your music career?

Kurt: I had a late start compared with most people; I didn’t know how to read music or play until I was a junior in high school. I started teaching myself piano in eleventh grade and now I’m a pretty decent piano player. Completely self-taught, never taken a lesson.

S&H: When did you begin writing?

K: During senior year, I wrote a couple spoof songs with a friend. Over the summer, I began writing and recording music, and towards the end of the summer, I produced my first song called “Roses on the Floor.” It was a pop song and would be really cheesy if I listened to it now, but it had a fair melody.

S&H: So then was writing music just a logical next step after teaching yourself to read?

K: Sometimes if you have an urge to do something, you just have to do it. Sometimes you just have to create something.

S&H: And now you’re one of July’s winners of the Song of the Year online contest in the electronic category. What was the experience like for you?

K: I just searched on the internet for song contests, but I chose this one because the top songs chosen each month are sent out to record labels and producers and radio stations. So there are immediate results.

S&H: Have you gotten any airtime or positive feedback?

K: Well considering I just won a week ago — but if I did get anything, I’d be shocked. I have no expectations.

S&H: Have you always been into electronic?

K: Well, the reason why that song [“Taken”] isn’t on my CD is because it’s not like anything else I’ve written.

S&H: Then what is your style?

K: Pop rock, folk and a lot of musical theater nowadays.

S&H: Have you recorded at all at Yale?

K: I’ve tried to get into the Morse recording studio, but I got a letter back saying that only Morsels are allowed. But, I mean, what’s the point of having that if students aren’t allowed to use it? I sometimes go to a music lab on Orange and Elm — that’s where I recorded my entire demo.

S&H: Moving away from your music for a bit, do you think there is an interest amongst students in live music on campus?

K: Definitely. I know of some underground live music groups.

S&H: You sing for the a capella group Out of the Blue. Do you think that at Yale a capella takes the place of a known live music scene?

K: No. I mean people go to a capella because their friends are in a capella.

S&H: Have you performed live?

K: I’ve done nursing homes.

Download and listen to Kurt’s award-winning song, “Taken