4 “Masked” Music Production Ideas

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.

In addition.. 

  • 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) 

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How to… 

  • Mystery Musical (production) Chairs – Multiple participants
    • 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 
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Quick Ideas for Music Production

Logic Remote as a Midi Control Surface

Logic Remote as a Midi Control Surface

Turn an iPad into a digital control surface and make beats like a pro Some ...
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Rhythm Roulette (Using Splice)

Rhythm Roulette (Using Splice)

Introducing three random samples equals endless beat making creativity for your participants Rhythm Roulette is ...
Read more and FREE Download
Genius' Deconstructed

Genius’ Deconstructed

Submitted by Mike Lembke www.bgcb.org If you haven't checked out any Genius Deconstructed videos yet ...
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3 Quick Songwriting Activities

3 Quick Songwriting Activities

Three proven ways to get participants engaged in songwriting right away  Songwriting and especially lyric ...
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Meme Factory

Meme Factory

Sample a viral video to make an original beat - great for beginners who are ...
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Dub Club

Dub Club

Use the recording studio to recreate the audio for your favorite YouTube videos Objective: Solution ...
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Command Ship

Command Ship

Participants' take command of the songwriting process to make their musical ideas a reality Objective: ...
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Junior Producers

Junior Producers

Get projects done by defining the role of Producer, Artist and Engineer. Objective: Participants take ...
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The Remix Contest

The Remix Contest

Each participant creates their REMIX version of the song of the week - then pick ...
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Sampling the Civil Rights Movement

Sampling the Civil Rights Movement

Teach participants how to sample by teaching them music history. Objective: Expose participants to sampling ...
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Quick Mix With Pink Noise

Quick Mix With Pink Noise

Get a quick, balanced mix every time by mixing with pink noise. Objective: Time is money ...
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Splice - samples, loops, FX, and presets

Splice – samples, loops, FX, and presets

Submitted by Javier Lozada www.ymcamalden.org Watching this made me realize how accessible the industry standard ...
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Demystifying the Studio

Demystifying the Studio

Submitted by Timothy Ballan – www.sbgc.org I stumbled upon a site that breaks down difficult ...
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Mastering Plugins

Mastering Plugins

Submitted by Javier Lozada - www.ymcamalden.org and Anders Olson - www.bgcb.org These plugins will mix ...
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Makey Makey Beats

Makey Makey Beats

Turn apples, bananas, and muffins into drum triggers - Submitted by Javier Lozada www.ymcamalden.org Looking ...
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Target Method Lyric Writing

Target Method Lyric Writing

Submitted by Anne Joseph www.newcitykids.org/jerseycity Anybody having a hard time getting your students to write ...
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Logic Pro X Tutorials

Logic Pro X Tutorials

Simple tips/tricks for Logic Pro X that help participants worry about the song, not the gear ...
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Resources for Virtual Music Programming

Please send resource recommendations to info@musicimpactnetwork.org

Page Updated – August 20, 2020

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. 


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

Advanced
Berklee Pulse
Berklee Online

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

 Virtual Programming Ideas

Virtual Beat making/recording sessions (via Zoom, etc) Thanks BuildingBeats.org
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

Advanced
Ableton (Free 90 day trial)
Beatmaker 3

Beginner

Amplify Studio
BlocsWave
Garageband

 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
TikTok
Acapella
Voloco

 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
Sampulator
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 info@musicimpactnetwork.org

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
https://www.facebook.com/BGCDot/videos/251329312925849/

Logic Remote as a Midi Control Surface

Turn an iPad into a digital control surface and make beats like a pro

Some participants can be intimidated by the recording studio equipment and process.  Empower them by using a tool they are comfortable – iPads and Logic Remote can be used as a control surface to make beats and help participants take control of the recording process.  Whether they’re using the transport to record themselves from within the vocal booth, using the iPad as a “second screen” to multitrack mix in the control room, or using the iPad to program drum beats and chord progressions, Logic Remote is a versatile way to make the recording process more accessible to everyone!

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How to… 

  • Download Logic Remote on iTunes App store (this is a Free App) 
  • Launch your Logic Session and pair Logic Remote to your computer (must be on the same network) 
    • FYI: Logic Remote also works with Garageband 
  • Use your iPad as a “second screen” or a “midi” control surface for your session using these helpful features (and more): 
    • Beat making/songwriting: 
      • Drum Pads – digital trigger pads are a tactile way for participants to program in their kick and snare tracks. It also has a “Kits” view which is more visual drum set
      • Note Repeat – perfect for creating authentic sounding trap music “sprinkler hi hats”
      • Chord Strips – Similar to “Smart Chords” in Garageband, this is an easy way to write chord progressions.  Participant can focus on quickly getting their ideas fleshed out without having to worrying about music theory 
      • Keyboard – copying the root motion of the Smart Chords progression, participants can easily add a bass line or synth layers. It also has “Fretboard” features if you prefer
    • Navigation and Mixing:
      • Key Commands – Frequently used recording functions like: Recording Transport, Save, New Track, Automation, etc
      • Mixer – great way to add a “second screen” that gives participants a tactile way to move digital faders during mixing/mastering
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Rhythm Roulette (Using Splice)

Introducing three random samples equals endless beat making creativity for your participants

Rhythm Roulette is a great way to get participants experimenting with making electronic music by getting over the initial hump that’s always the most challenging… “where do I start?!” Getting a project off the ground is always difficult, but being forced to build around a particular sample or sound can be a great springboard for creativity. There are lots of different ways to use the idea of a “Rhythm Roulette” in the studio, and they can be tailored to different ages and experience levels – below are just a few examples.  

In Addition… 

  • This program is based off of the Rhythm Roulette | Mass Appeal Youtube series. To understand how this program works, you have to first understand the rules of the Rhythm Roulette: #1 – Find a record store, #2 – Blind-fold producer, #3 – Pick 3 random records, #4 – Make a beat by sampling 

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How to… 

  • The basic concept is… Grab random samples or loops from sound libraries (like Splice or Apple loops) and help participants make a beat using all three samples. FYI: This is a great way to introduce and utilize a Splice Sounds account
  • For beginners: 
    • Grab a 4 bar instrumental loop (or chord progression) 
    • Each participant (and instructor/s) creates their own drum beat to go with the loop/progression 
      • Don’t let participants listen to each others tracks while they’re making them
      • Keep the activity short and sweet – have participants only build a 4 bar drum track
      • Encourage participants to experiment with elements such as: Drum kit libraries, Tempo/BPM, Dynamics, Mute/unmute, Panning, Effects, Layering, Etc. 
    • Everyone plays their track (over a PA speaker), listens and compares what they came up with
    • Discuss how different grooves and feels can make the same sample sound completely different.
      • For example: A loop with a 4-on-the-floor feel vs. a trap feel
  • For more advanced participants: 
    • Choose three random loops and/or samples (Splice or Apple Loops) 
    • Challenge participants to make a beat (in 30-60 minutes) that includes ALL three loops/samples
    • Introduce more advanced concepts like: 
      • Matching key signatures (Ie. show how some samples won’t work well together because they are in different keys or tonalities)
      • Tempo and beat matching 
      • Groove and feel (ie. Swing vs. straight) 
      • Dynamics
      • Effects and filters 
      • Classic drum sounds (ie. Acoustic, electronic, 808’s, lo-fi, etc) 
      • Etc. 
  • Variation for teens: 
    • For teens, before we make any beats, I show them the “I played a show using only the 1991 Casio Rapman” video from Adam Neely’s YouTube channel. This video introduces a topic that is relevant to the activity ie. how limitations can sometimes inspire creativity
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Practical Tips on How to Address Inappropriate Language

Five ways to clean up inappropriate language that you’ll swear by!

It’s natural for participants to want to imitate the music they listen to when they first start out recording or performing. In the context of a youth development music program however, the language and content of these songs aren’t always appropriate.  This resource provides several approaches to encourage participants to expand their vocabulary and develop opportunities for growth and maturity including knowing your audience, assigning professional studio roles, rewriting lyrics, “three strikes” rule.  

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Example #1 – Know Your Audience

“I talk to my students about knowing your audience and the value you get for being flexible. Most times my rappers just want to swear for shock value and because it’s easier than writing how you feel. I just take the time to have a conversation with them and explain the most versatile artists get more gigs, radio play, opportunities and at the end of the day… more dollars!” – Submitted by Corey DePina, Zumix
  • Ask participants – “How many cuss words can you think of using when you’re angry?” 
  • Then open www.thesaurus.com and look up and explore the word “Angry” 
  • It might also be helpful to also show participants www.rhymezone.com or other rhyming dictionaries 
  • Help participants understand the limits of using typical cuss words versus other words that may expand their vocabulary, set them apart, and better explain their emotions 

Example #2 – Assigning Professional Studio Roles 

“Younger participants sit-in on sessions with my older teens who are assigned traditional studio roles to make our studio feel more professional. They’re responsible, trusted and naturally influence younger participants and teach them our rules and if not, I can always step in when there’s inappropriate content. I use this as a  teachable moment to have open conversations and help create mindfulness.”   Submitted by Javier Lozada, Malden YMCA
  • Assign professional Studio Roles
    • Artist – Typically a vocalist (singer or rapper) recording over a pre-recorded track 
    • Producer – Participants who are interested in using technology to create beats using virtual instruments
    • Engineer – Participants who are more interested in the “behind the scenes” technical aspect of recording like setting up sessions, microphones, mixing, and using effects
  • Clearly establish the rules of the studio including language expectations 
  • Help older teen participants mentor younger participants on studio rules and expectations 
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Music Producer Reward System

Participants earn studio privileges while improving their producing skills!

The Music Producer Reward System motivates participants to learn more in the studio by creating 3 levels of “Producers”. As participants advance, they learn studio software and techniques and “level-up” to earn additional studio privileges.

How to…

  • First, set up various levels of Music Production workstations and/or studios in your program space.
  • Participants start on the basic setup and “level-up” to more sophisticated studios as they learn more skills. For example:
    • “Studio A” – iMac or iPad Workstation equipped with Garageband (Headphone based)
    • “Studio B” – iMac Workstation with Logic and basic interface/mic setup (with speakers) located inside of a practice room
    • “Studio C” – Professional level project studio, complete with Logic/ProTools, Isolation booth, and your program’s most advanced recording studio equipment
  • Determine what skills participants must demonstrate in order to gain access to each studio. Print and display the requirements for each level of “producer” (Sample levels are provided below)
  • Create an incentive chart to visually track and help motivate participants’ achievements. Regularly post and update the names of each “Co-Producer”, “Producer” and “Executive Producer”

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Genius’ Deconstructed

Submitted by Mike Lembke www.bgcb.org

If you haven’t checked out any Genius Deconstructed videos yet – get on it! “The Making of Thank U, Next” is great to share with kids and helps us remember that making music is really about having fun and sharing an emotional connection with friends, artists, and fans!

Stay up to date with the latest music trends. Below is Genius’ Deconstructed series YouTube Playlist

Genius’ Deconstructed YouTube Playlist