Shared Spotify Playlists – Songs with Easy Progressions

A big thank you to Josh Alfonzo at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Tarrant County in Fort Worth, TX for putting together these Spotify Playlists.

Playlist features:

  • Popular Songs with easy progressions
    • Perfect for beginners on guitar, drums, bass, piano or vocals
  • Categorized by Key
  • Simply add them to your library

Here is how Josh uses these playlists in his programming everyday. “I spend a lot of time building relationships with my teens. I try my best to listen to them and understand what they like – this means spending time each week listening to top 40 music. When a participant requests a song or I come across a popular song, I learn it and add it to the playlist (if appropriate). This way I have go-to songs ready for participants to learn which keeps them motivated to keep playing.”

Spotify Playlists

Do you have a Spotify list that your participants can’t get enough of? Please share it on the Music Impact Network Facebook Group and we’ll add it to the list.

Quick Ideas for Performances

Cover Song Challenge

Cover Song Challenge

A healthy competition that encourages collaboration, talent, and self-esteem It’s impossible to please all of your participants with song choice, ...
Lip Sync Battle

Lip Sync Battle

Help participants channel their inner Milli Vanilli while learning stage presence A Lip Sync Battle is a fun and silly ...
The Art of a Sound Check

The Art of a Sound Check

Go beyond “check one, two!” Tips that help participants feel comfortable and sound their best Many young musicians have never ...
Emcee 101

Emcee 101

Ryan Seacrest OUT and youth participants IN! Groom participants to be Emcees for events Objective: Gain self-confidence by hosting a performance ...
Disco Karaoke

Disco Karaoke

Give participants the real experience by turning on the stage lights and cranking up the music Objective: Create a fun/inviting ...
Open Mic Nights

Open Mic Nights

Forget recitals… create youth-led performances that they look forward to! Teens love Open Mic Nights! Promote a supportive performance environment ...
Using Performance Games to Help Conquer Stage Fright

Using Performance Games to Help Conquer Stage Fright

Create a safe and fun environment for participants to Create a safe and fun environment for participants to gain confidence ...
First Take Studio Series

First Take Studio Series

Artist development workshop in the style of a "tiny desk" type performance - only one take. Objective: Develop confidence and ...
Cypher Fridays

Cypher Fridays

Use words that impress, without the stress, just try your best Objective: Fun, safe, open space for participants to try ...
Flow Lab & Freestyle Compliment Battle

Flow Lab & Freestyle Compliment Battle

Keep participants' raps positive by complimenting others instead of tearing them down Objective: Promote a culture where freestyling is positive ...

Step by Step Process – From Practice to Performance

To download a ZIP file Bundle – Click Here:

Here are ways that Music Impact Network members plan Instrument Programming while working towards an end of semester performance.

Step #1 – Skip the theory… have beginners play right away! 

Show participants the “need to know” information to get playing and have success right away 
Skip instrument “lessons” and get participants to play in bands from day #1

Step #2 – Help participants master skills by providing regularly scheduled instruction

Make a plan to help your participants master their instruments

Help your participants earn a musical “black belt” – They level up each time they learn a new skill

Step #3 – Recitals are so old school… here’s a new take on performances

Fun (and sneaky) ways to help participants conquer stage fright
Youth-led monthly open mic night that participants will look forward to

Bonus – You may also want to try these…

Get beginners playing in 10 minutes
Gamify your music program – have participants “unlock” daily musical challenges
Exclusive workshops for most dedicated players
Specifically for after-school music programs
To download a ZIP file Bundle – Click Here:

Quick Ideas for Instrument Programming

Using the Nashville Number System to Create Bands

Using the Nashville Number System to Create Bands

Skip instrument “lessons” and get participants to play in bands from day #1 ive your ...
Instrument Petting Zoo

Instrument Petting Zoo

Give participants a chance to try out instruments without committing Objective: Touch, hold, and try ...
“Sticky” Instrument Challenges

“Sticky” Instrument Challenges

Want beginners to have instant success on instruments? Forget notation and pick up some tape ...
The Mouse Pad Drum Pad

The Mouse Pad Drum Pad

Don't know what to do with those old mouse pads? Smash them with drums sticks! ...
The 10 Minute Bet

The 10 Minute Bet

Ultimate way to get participants playing any instrument in 10 minutes (or less) Designed to ...
Ukulele Club

Ukulele Club

Ukuleles are fun, easy to learn and they don't hurt your fingers like guitar Objective: ...
Project Drumline

Project Drumline

Drums, buckets, or chairs - if you can hit it with drumsticks, you can create ...

Resources for Virtual Music Programming

NOTE: Any featured products are based on the experience and opinions of Network members and Music & Youth. We do not receive any financial benefit from the vendors to promote their products. We just thought they were helpful and you might like ’em. 

Essential Musical “PPE”

Curated list of the Best Programs and Portable Equipment for virtual programming or socially distanced solutions.

Virtual Programming Starter Resources

Customizable templates for recommended Zoom settings, staff guidelines, parent waivers/permission forms, sample email communications and participant guidelines.

Recommended Zoom Settings and Staff Guidelines
9 Steps to Set up your Zoom account and helpful staff guidelines

Sample Staff Guidelines for Virtual Programming
Simple Staff Guidelines when conducting Virtual Programming on Zoom

Sample Parent Consent Using Google Forms
Customize your own parent consent form using Google Forms

Sample Email Templates for Virtual Programming
Email Templates to efficiently communicate with Parents/Guardians

Participant Guide for Zoom Meetings
Practical help for your participants who are new to Virtual Programming

4 Virtual Programming Ideas
Members of the music staff at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston describe their approach for:

  • Group Instrument Lessons on Zoom
  • Virtual Music Production Sessions
  • Virtual Jam “Round Robin” Session
  • Instagram Live “Takeover” Concert

Recommendations on how to properly clean and disinfect your program area and music instruments: 

Virtual Programming Ideas and Resources

 Virtual Programming Ideas

Virtual Group Lessons (Zoom, etc)
Tutorial on how to set up virtual group lessons for any instrument 

Instrument Loaner Program
Resources (Recommended Equipment list and sample parent permission form) to help you set up an instrument Loaner Program.

At Home Resources

Berklee Pulse
Berklee Online

• Curated Youtube Lessons (ie. Guitar, Ukulele, Piano, Drum pad, Vocals)

 Virtual Programming Ideas

Virtual Beat making/recording sessions (via Zoom, etc) Thanks
Free beat making tutorials and examples of virtual music production projects/sessions 

4 “Masked” Music Production Ideas
Is social distancing limiting your studio collabs? Encourage youth to make beats with anonymous producers adding an element of mystery

Rhythm Roulette (Using Splice)
Challenge your participants to a weekly beat making challenge using predetermined samples

At Home Resources

Ableton (Free 90 day trial)
Beatmaker 3


Amplify Studio

 Virtual Programming Ideas

• Virtual Group Lessons (Zoom, etc)
Tutorial on how to set up virtual group lessons or songwriting sessions for vocalists 

• Cover Song Challenge
Set up a weekly Cover Song competition to encourage virtual collaboration and music making

At Home Resources

Advanced & Beginner

 Virtual Programming Ideas

Household Foley
Zoom session icebreaker – the participant with the most realistic sound effect wins!

Zoom Concert Watch Party
Schedule a regular time to meet up with participants to watch a virtual concert (using “screen share”) Examples: Beyoncé Homecoming, HipHop Evolution, or favorite artists on YouTube. 

Virtual Karaoke Party
Tutorial on how to set up a virtual Karaoke party with your participants (complete with a Google Doc best practice

At Home Resources

Advanced & Beginner
New York Vocal Coaching
Chrome Music Lab
You DJ

Music Making Resources

• Ableton (Free 90 day trial) – Professional level beat making software
ProTools First – Free version of Industry standard software

Soundtrap – (also has a phone App) Collaborate on beats/tracks with friends 

• Bandlab – (also has a phone App) Collaborate on beats/tracks with friends 

IOS and Android compatible:
Zenbeats – Make beats with classic Roland Sounds like 808’s
BlocsWave – Loop-based app to explore, create and record your music
LaunchPad – Instantly create and remix music
Acapella – Connect, collaborate and create music with friends who love to sing and play instruments.

IOS only:
Beatmaker 3 – Professional DAW powered by a mobile device
Garageband – Turn your iPad, and iPhone into a collection of Touch Instruments and a full-featured recording studio
Reason Compact – Your pocket music studio
Reason Take – Record your ideas anywhere… just Sing, hum, rap, or strum.
“Drop a Beat” Apple App Story – Collection of other popular music making Apps for IOS

Android only:
Best Music Making Apps – Collection of other popular music making Apps for IOS

Mobile Permission – Send Permission Slips to Parents’ cell phones
Bloomz – The #1 App for All Your Classroom Communication
• Remind – Communication for the school, home, and everywhere in between.
Crew – The connected frontline workplace

Professional Development Resources

Music Impact Network – Free program resources for after school music programs
Groove3 – Pro-quality Recording studio video tutorials

Henny Tha Bizness – Professional iPad music Producer
• Genius Deconstructed – How to make a hit with the industry’s top producers
• Pensado’s Place “Into the Lair” – Engineering and Mixing Tutorials with Dave Pensado

Please send resource recommendations to

Creative Virtual Programming Ideas

Rubik’s Cube Beat

Check out this cool Rubik's Cube Beat put together by Will, our Music Clubhouse Coordinator. You can tap into your creative side at home too. For you it might look like creating your own beat, like Will did, or it could be drawing, writing, dancing, singing, playing an instrument, cooking or any other form of expression you choose. Let us know in the comments how you're tapping into your creative side.

Posted by West End House on Monday, March 30, 2020
BGCD At Home Announces The Masked Singer!

BGCD At Home is excited to announce our very own version of The Masked Singer! Episodes will be posted on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 8pm on both our Facebook and YouTube pages. Members and families have 24 hours to vote/comment on who they think lost and the loser will need to reveal themselves the next day. See you for the premier tomorrow at 8pm! #WeAreDorchester

Posted by Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester on Monday, March 30, 2020
BGCD At Home: The Masked Singer (Episode 1)

BGCD presents Episode 1 of our new series, The Masked Singer! Who do you think lost this round?You have 24 hours to vote and that person will have to reveal themselves! #WeAreDorchester

Posted by Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester on Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Using the Nashville Number System to Create Bands

Skip instrument “lessons” and get participants to play in bands from day #1

ive your participants the ultimate musical experience by getting them to play their favorite songs in a band on the very first day. Youth participants are empowered by choosing their instrument, song, bandmates, and stage name. Your role is to simplify the chord progressions or drum beats (ie. root notes) and get the band to play along with the recording while performing on stage. Instead of weekly “lessons,” participants attend a regular band rehearsal with the goal of performing at a showcase performance each month. 

Read More

How to… 

Before participants arrive 

  • Prepare an approved Song List on a white board (ie. popular songs for participants to choose from) 
    • Limited song options from a common playlist gives participants a sense “guided choice” 
    • Allows the staff to prepare learning materials for a realistic amount of songs, including, tempo/key signature, progression shorthand (ie. Nashville # system), and song form
    • Add individual progressions for Verse, Chorus, Pre-Chorus, Bridge, etc. 
    • Print lyric sheets (if needed) 
      • Create a playlist on Spotify or Apple Music for quick access
  • Tape and label instruments
Use white Gaffers tape to label frets with chord function. Move tape for each songParticipants play root notes using one finger on one stringLabel keys with chord function using tape or dry erase markersParticipants play root notes using one finger 
Page 1 of 3

To download a full, editable version

Explore similar resources in Instrument Programming

“Karate Belt” Reward System

Want ninja level musicians?! Help your participants earn a musical “black belt.”  

A black belt in karate is a badge of honor representing the highest level of skill. The “Karate Belt” Reward System uses different color guitar picks (similar to “karate belts”) to reward participants’ progress and motivate them to achieve their goals on instruments or music technology.

Read More

How to…

  • Determine what skills participants must demonstrate in order to “level up” on each instrument or music technology gear. Then print and display the “karate belt” requirements for each instrument.
    • The Sample “Karate Belt” Reward System Achievements chart below uses 5 colors, each representing different levels of achievement plus an exclusive club called “The Red-Hot Pick Society” for anyone earning a purple pick on 3 or more instruments
  • Create an incentive chart to visually track and help motivate participants’ achievements.
  • With help from instructors, participants work to earn each colored guitar pick to add to their necklace.
    • Note: If a participant earns their “Yellow” rank in more than one instrument, no need to give them another yellow guitar pick for their necklace. Instead, simply note their achievement on the incentive board.
  • Participants wear their multi-colored guitar pick necklace that proudly displays their rank.

The recommended equipment list below is an example that would serve approximately 30 participants. Your needs and quantities may vary (depending on # of participants).

Page 1 of 2 (full text available in download) 
To download a full, editable version 

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New Participant Orientation Process

Help break the ice and welcome new participants so they can make music right away!  

For participants new to your Music Studio, stepping into a recording studio or picking up an instrument for the first time can be intimidating. Some beginners are so excited to get started that they can hardly stand it! Others may feel intimidated, nervous, or shy.  One way to help new participants feel welcome is to implement an Equipment Orientation Process.

Equipment orientations are for first time users of music technology or instruments. The goal is to show new participants the basics of the equipment and get them playing as soon as possible. 

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How to…

Orientations are a great way for the staff to get to know the participants on a personal level and a great way to start building trust.  Keep the orientations low key and low stress.  The primary goal is to make a new participant comfortable and to demystify instruments or production technology.  

Step One:

  • Orientations can be one-on-one or in a group setting.
  • Explain equipment rules and expectations to help prevent damage
  • Encourage participants to treat instruments and gear with respect

Step Two:

  • For instrumentalists
    • Explain the working parts of the instrument and how to hold it
    • Have them chose a simple popular song and teach them to play it right away
  • For producers
    • Have them produce a “demo”
    • The total project should be at least 32 bars long
    • Distinct “A” and “B” sections
    • Minimum of 5 tracks (At least one track performed live by the participant then quantized)     
  • Conduct a simple verbal “Quiz” to reinforce knowledge of the basics

Some helpful hints:

  • Avoid long lectures – Keep the orientation to 10-15 minutes max
  • Encourage participants to choose the equipment they want to try out, at their own pace 
  • Start with only “need-to-know” information to get some quick success
  • Help participants make music right away – keep it short and simple!

To download a full, editable version

You may also want to download… 

Download editable Sample House Rules 
Download the bundle of all Orientation Worksheets

Explore similar resources in Instrument Programming

4 Steps to Implement Instrument Workshops

4 easy steps and everything you need to implement a weekly workshop schedule

Objective: Get participants learning contemporary instruments by playing contemporary music

  • Participants gain proficiency on the instrument of their choice
  • Dedicated days/times that participants look forward to learning a song or rehearsing in a band
  • Participants work towards a “real-world” goal like performing at an Open Mic night


Instrument Petting Zoo

Give participants a chance to try out instruments without committing

Objective: Touch, hold, and try new instruments

  • An exciting opportunity for participants to try an instrument they’ve always wanted to play
  • Provide participants with opportunities to experiment with music through a variety of instruments that are fun, approachable, get quick results, and don’t require a formal instructor

To Learn More: