You’ve heard of the “Masked Singer”… now try the “Masked” Producer!
Social distancing has limited the number of participants that can be served at any given time, which is especially challenging in the studio or smaller isolation booth spaces. So, how do you encourage music production collaborations when you can only have one youth participant in the studio at a time? Use these limitations to your advantage and encourage youth to make beats with an element of mystery.
Projects can be done in either virtual, in-person or hybrid programming models. For Virtual programming – use a collaborative browser-based DAW like Soundtrap
NOTE: Disinfect production workstations and equipment between each use (if applicable)
Set up 3 (or more) Music Production stations in your music program space or multiple rooms
Can be as simple as an iPad and headphones or more complex production workstation
Can be adapted for time, done over multiple days or send files virtually – the key is keeping identity of each participant a secret until the end
Here is an hour-long Mystery Musical (production) Chairs session example:
15 minutes – Assign participants to start a new project (e.g. create a 4-8 bar loop)
15 minutes – Participants rotate to another workstation and must add or build off of what the previous participant has already created
15 minutes – Participants rotate again to another workstation (same as previous step)
15 minutes – Final tracks are played – youth reveal what they contributed to each track
Covert Chords– Multiple participants
Assign all participants to create a beat using the same Keys/synth/guitar/bass loop
Loops can be original, Splice, Garageband, etc.
Determine a timeframe for the project (e.g. 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week, etc) depending on skill level
Participants work on their beats individually and come together for a final listening session
Compare and contrast how each participant interpreted the loop
Ghost Writing – Multiple participants
Decide on a theme for the song/project (e.g. Social Justice, Video Games, etc) – Be creative!
Play a stock beat or loop over speakers (or in Zoom)
Everyone writes 4-8 bars of lyrics based on the theme
One at a time, participants sing/rap/record their lyrics in the studio, but the previous participant’s performance is muted
Play the final mashed-up song for all participants at the end
Production Pen Pals – Two participants
Pair two producers or musical artists together but keep their identities a secret
Determine a production schedule of when each participant will come to the studio (or work virtually) on a track. Also set time limits on how long each participant can spend working on the project. For example:
Participant #1 – Monday and Wednesday 3-4pm
Participant #2 – Tuesday and Thursday 3-4pm
Participant #1 and #2 – Final listening session on Friday 3-4pm
The first participant starts a beat in the studio (or virtually) and each participant take turns adding/subtracting to the beat in isolation and saving any vocal productions for last
On the final day the duo is brought together (socially distanced) to reveal their identities and listen to the final production
Give producers a platform to share their projects with their peers – building self-confidence
We’ve all had to adapt our programs as we’ve transitioned to virtual programming – one challenge has been creating opportunities for participants to share what they’ve been working on while receiving feedback from their peers. Virtual Listening Parties are regular Zoom meetings in an “open mic” night format that give producers, songwriters and instrumentalists the opportunity to showcase their talents and creativity. Hosted by the staff or youth, participants submit their songs or projects ahead of time to build a “set list” that keeps the party going. Attendees are encouraged to support their friends by dancing along, dropping a comment in chat or simply lending a supportive ear.
Pick and promote a date for your participants to showcase their work during a “Listening Party”
Collect youth tracks and projects ahead of time leading up to the Listening Party
Time Frame is up to you (e.g. weekly, monthly or every 2-3 weeks, etc)
Staff create a “set list” of original songs or projects (bounced files are cued up)
Invite EVERYONE (Send Zoom meeting information)
Invite performers AND participants not involved as audience members – Could help:
Increase motivation for participants to join next time
Inspire youth to sign up for production class or create a project of their own
Become a recruiting tool for other virtual music programs
Also invite Parents/supports (if appropriate)
Hosting the Listening Party
Decide on an emcee or host (e.g. Music Staff, Youth/teen participants, or combination of both)
Play the track
Give a brief introduction to each song/performer – then play the track (via screen share)
Audience should share encouraging comments in the chat
Provides real-time feedback
Boosts self-confidence of performers/presenters
Can help to facilitate a Q&A between performers and audience
Keep things moving quickly between acts
If there is extra time, let others share
Like an “open mic” night allow participants who were reluctant to sign up share as well
Promote your programs, schedule and opportunities
Share your virtual program schedule and opportunities
Share the date of your next Listening Party
Share contact information if participants have questions
Virtual is the new reality – here are 4 virtual program ideas to get you started!
Members of the music staff at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston describe their approach for virtual instrument lessons, music production sessions and virtual jam sessions on ZOOM as well as how their youth participants are “taking over” their social media accounts to host live concerts.
Example #1 – Group Instrument Lessons on Zoom
“Participants are so grateful for the attention and interaction with instructors and their friends that they will “listen in” to other’s coaching sessions even though the instructors aren’t giving them 100% of their time. ” – Submitted by Daniel “DP” Pattianakotta, Yawkey Club of Roxbury Instagram: @yawkeymusic YouTube: Yawkey Music Clubhouse
Each Zoom call is a group lesson with 3-4 participants at a time
Participants are at various skill levels and working on their own individual songs
Lessons typically go for 1 hour and participants take turns muting/unmuting their mic when it’s their turn to play or sing (while other lesson attendees listen in)
Participants play a track or karaoke version of a song (over computer speakers, etc) and then sing or play their instrument along with the track
Instructors check in on each participants progress periodically through the session
Some have instruments/equipment while others have been innovative/creative (ie. using an iPad Keyboard app to play their favorite songs).
Example #2 – Virtual Music Production Sessions
“Before the shutdown, participants were working on their own original songs with a goal to create an album. I continue to reach out to these participants to encourage them to keep writing and collaborating.” –Submitted by Brooke Magidson, Yawkey Club of Roxbury Instagram: @yawkeymusic YouTube: Yawkey Music Clubhouse
Music Production sessions are individually scheduled
Staff share their computer screen on Zoom and create beats in Logic Pro X with the participants input
Before each session:
Send each participant a bounced reference track
Participants can prepare by writing lyrics and practicing their rapping/singing
During the Zoom session participants play the track in the background and rap/sing over top of the beat (using their iPhone headphone’s microphone)
Staff listen and coach participants on their lyrics, rhythm, phrasing and “flow”, etc.
Practical help for your participants who are new to Virtual Programming
This downloadable and customizable template includes guidance for your youth participants like:
Materials needed to join a Zoom meeting
Zoom setup and audio/video settings
Common Zoom functions and best practices
Participant expectations while on Zoom
Links to “getting started” guides and videos
You will need:
An internet connection – broadband wired or wireless
Headset/earbuds with microphone
Webcam – built-in or USB plug-in
*NOTE: If you are unable to join from Zoom on a computer or mobile device, then you can join on the telephone instead. Dial the phone number provided; then enter the Meeting ID and password when prompted.
*TIP: If you use a headset or earbuds with a mic, be sure to plug those in to your computer before joining the Zoom meeting.
Enter the Zoom meeting using a computer or the zoom app:
Your meeting host will provide the URL to the Zoom room as well as a Meeting ID and a password. Simply click the URL or paste into your browser of choice to open the meeting. You will be asked to provide the Meeting ID and password. This will get you to a “Waiting Room”. The meeting host will then give you permission to join the meeting. Audio and video setup:
After launching the Zoom meeting from the meeting URL, you will be prompted to join the room’s audio. Click “join audio by computer.” Zoom allows audio participation through your computer’s internal speakers, a headset, or a phone line.
Pro Accounts are recommended and cost $15 per month and allow you to implement additional safety features. You can sign up for one at https://zoom.us/pricing.
Step 3: Set the meeting features to keep your members as safe as possible (You will only have to do this step once!)
Go to https://zoom.us/account/setting. Scroll down until you reach a section entitled “In Meeting (Basics)” or select “In Meeting (Basics) on the left hand side of your screen. Do the following things:
Allow meeting participants to send a message visible to all participants
Allow participants to save the chat
Do NOT allow meeting participants to send a private 1:1 messages to another participant
(Note: As the host you will still be able to message participants privately. You should NOT do this! Similarly, if a member messages you privately do NOT respond to them directly as this would violate our “Rule of Three”.)
Allow Zoom to automatically save all in-meeting chats
Customize the following Sample Email Templates to efficiently communicate with Parents/Guardians
This downloadable and customizable template includes guidance for your youth participants like:
General Parent/Guardian Permission Request
Zoom Programming and Video Release Consent for Live Performances Request
Virtual Consent for Xbox Live & Zoom Programming Request
In an effort to continuously serve members during the [Name of Organization] closure, [Name of Organization] staff are providing virtual programming using Zoom. Zoom allows video conferencing to take place in pre-scheduled classes between [Name of Organization] staff and members.
In order to participate in virtual programming, you will need the following:
A computer, mobile, or tablet device with access to the Internet
A quiet space at home in which members can participate
To register for Zoom you will need to provide some customer data, including but not limited to: your email address and first and last name (for more information, see https://zoom.us/privacy)
To maintain safety, virtual programming is being implemented with the following parameters in place:
No child will be allowed to participate in virtual programming without advanced permission from a parent/guardian.
All virtual programming will be administered by two [Name of Organization] staff
If you consent to having your child use Zoom for virtual programming, please respond to this email with the following message:
“I, [PLEASE TYPE YOUR FULL NAME], the parent/guardian of [PLEASE YOUR CHILD’S FULL NAME], give permission for him/her to participate in [Name of Organization] virtual programming at [Name of Organization].”
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Create your own parent consent form using Google Forms
This downloadable and customizable template helps your organization create a quick and simple parent permission form allowing your participants to join in virtual programming.
In an effort to continuously serve members during the [Name of Organization] closure, [Name of Organization] is providing distance-based experiences through which staff will facilitate program activities through an online platform. We will use an application provided by a third party that members, parents/guardians and/or staff will access via the Internet and use for purposes of communication and programming.
This letter seeks consent for your child to utilize the below online platforms for distance-based program purposes.
Google Classroom – requires internet and a device to connect; will be used to share projects/activities
If you do not have access to the internet or a device, please contact us (we may be able to help)
Zoom Meeting – requires the internet and a device to connect; used for meetings of Clubs, including [Name of programs], etc.
Email – requires internet and a device to connect; used for communication
SchoolCNXT – requires internet access and a tablet/phone to connect through downloaded app or phone number; used for updates and communications
[Name of Organization] will also be posting content designed for learning and engagement to [Name of platforms]. However, due to the nature of these platforms, participation cannot be monitored by [Name of Organization] staff.
Please be aware that each site collects different information about its users and has its own privacy terms and conditions to which members must adhere. Please review these carefully before allowing your member to register for access to various platforms.
Our commitment to keeping the young people we serve safe is always our number one priority. [Name of Organization] will make every effort to protect member information as they use these platforms for [Name of Organization] programming. Further, all activities online must comply with [Name of Organization] safety policies.
Simple Staff Guidelines when conducting Virtual Programming on Zoom
This downloadable and customizable template gives your music program staff a reference guide for virtual programming, including:
Keys to ensuring a successful and safe virtual environment
Zoom settings and recommendation
Additional information about “Zoombombing” and Privacy Awareness
As [Name of Organization] Staff create virtual experiences, there are some keys to ensuring a successful and safe environment, these include:
Enable a meeting password – eliminates the possibility of youth “guessing” how to get into the meeting.
Do not list meetings publicly, or in public places – This further reduces the chance of someone uninvited entering one of your meetings.
Turn off (disable) participant recording – This eliminates the possibility that content from your session can be downloaded by members and shared externally. You can do this from the Host Dashboard.
Turn off (disable) screen sharing by participants – This eliminates the possibility your members can inadvertently, or intentionally, share content on their screens with others. You can do this from the Host Dashboard In meeting chat allows participants to send chat messages to other members.
Disable participant to participant private chat – As the host, you can choose who the participants can chat with or to disable chat entirely. Using the “Everyone Publicly” setting complies with 1:1 contact policies.
Save a chat log to your computer (locally) – This ensures an audit trail exists. Save chat log at the end of each session,
Prohibit the sharing of – Email address; Social media address(es) or locations to personal profiles; Mobile numbers; Other personally-identifiable information
At no point should staff message members directly within the software – All chat should be logged and saved as an audit trail. See above for configuring chat settings appropriately.
Be aware of your surroundings – check to see what is in the background of the video both visually and sound wise.
Be cautious of what is on your computer screen/background
Zoombombing, where unexpected individuals are joining meetings and able to take control of presentations and share explicit material (e.g., pornography). Below is the FBI’s current guidance on preventing “Zoom-bombing,” or instances when unauthorized users disrupt online meetings:
Do not make meetings or classrooms public. In Zoom, there are two options to make a meeting private: require a meeting password or use the waiting room feature and control the admittance of guests.
Do not share a link to a teleconference or classroom on an unrestricted publicly available social media post. Provide the link directly to specific people.
Manage screen sharing options. In Zoom, change screen-sharing to “Host Only.”
Ensure users are using the updated version of remote access/meeting applications. In January 2020, Zoom updated their software. In their security update, the teleconference software provider added passwords by default for meetings and disabled the ability to randomly scan for meetings to join.
Lastly, ensure that your organization’s telework policy or guide addresses requirements for physical and information security.