Signature Events

Create a performance that participants will remember for the rest of their lives!

Many participants in your music program probably won’t become professional musicians but why not give them a chance to feel like one while performing on stage?! Creating a Signature Event helps participants look forward to participating in an annual performance and gives them a goal to work towards while building their self-confidence and self-esteem. Whether its an Album Release Party, Awards Night, Talent Show, or Vocal Competition, help your participants dream big as they perform for their adoring fans! 

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How to… 

Create a Signature Event that involves your participants in something bigger than they ever thought possible. Here are some general tips for creating a memorable Signature Event: 

  • Go big!
    • Book a professional concert venue (e.g. House of Blues, Hard Rock or local college auditorium)   
    • Rent a red carpet, staging, sound system and lighting 
    • Secure corporate sponsors and special guest performers 
    • Document the special occasion by hiring professional photographers and videographers
    • Create awards and custom swag (e.g. t-shirts, posters, etc) 
    • Create a buzz promoting your event in the press and community
    • Invite other program departments to help – for example: 
      • Invite the Dance Team to choreograph a dance routine and perform on stage 
      • Have Visual Arts participants design a flyer or custom T-Shirts
      • Have Teen Center pass out invitations or help with setup/teardown of equipment 
  • Invite everyone! 
    • Plan for EVERYONE in your Youth Development Organization to attend 
      • Shutdown all other program areas – rent buses so all youth members at your organization can attend
      • Staff help chaperone participants in the audience 
      • Administrative staff and board members should also attend 
    • Parents and family members 
      • Pick a family friendly day/time 
      • Make sure the venue has parking or public transportation 
    • Donors, sponsors, foundations and program partners 
      • Highlight how their contributions and support made the night possible 
  • Prepare! In addition to the logistics discussed above, be sure to: 
    • Work with organizational staff to make sure you choose a date/time free of other program or event conflicts.  
    • Develop a rehearsal schedule so participants are confident on stage 
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Open Mic Nights

Forget recitals… create youth-led performances that they look forward to! 

A culminating performance has always been the perfect way to build self-confidence and self-esteem in a young musician. Hosting an Open Mic Night promotes a supportive environment (regardless of skill levels) that is reflects your teen’s diverse styles and musical tastes. They can also be collaborative (featuring bands and groups instead of solo acts, like in a recital) and can be youth-led, empowering participants to take on more leadership opportunities.  

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How to… 

Open Mic Nights become the primary performance opportunity for all participants.

  • Create a regular schedule (e.g. 1st Thursday of the month).  Participants stay motivated and grow musically when given a goal to work towards
  • Use your weekly programming, workshops or lessons to help participants prepare
    • Participants should choose songs they would like to learn and perform
    • Encourage participants to learn songs with the goal of performing at next Open Mic (don’t linger on songs too long… participants will get bored)
    • Help participants collaborate and perform the song in a band 
      • Create a band on their own with their friends
      • If a participant doesn’t have friends ready to play, mentors can use youth leaders or other talented musicians to form a band around them 
    • Individual/solo acts or other studio collaborations are also encouraged to perform
    • Performances can include: Acoustic acts, Vocalists or rappers performing to a track (originals or covers), Showcase original music productions or Music Videos
  • Youth-led event – There are other ways participants can be involved (not just performing on stage). Work with participants to: 
    • Design flyers and Marketing plans 
    • Determine setlist
    • Setup Equipment and lighting and run the sound board 
    • Be the Host or emcee 
    • Promote and support the performers
  • Transform the vibe of your music room into a concert venue
    • If possible, set up a stage with stage lights
    • Encourage dancing, cheering and an overall supportive environment 
    • Invite everyone in the building (e.g. Teen Center participants and staff) and friends/parents 
  • Promote a supportive environment 
    • “We are all still learning” attitude 
    • Audience cheers for everyone despite skill level (discourage booing) 
    • Ask audience to encourage/cheer when nerves are high 
    • Don’t pressure a participant who is not feeling ready to perform
  • Optional: Set a Theme for each Open Mic – ie. “Genre of the Month: 
    • Genre-specific events that promote learning about different styles of music including Hip Hop Showcase, DJ Showcase, Cover Song Showcase, Decades (e.g. 70s night, 80s night, etc.) 
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Multi-week Vocal Competition

Start your own Idol, Voice, Lip Sync, Glee, Sing-Off, or X Factor singing competition.

Objective: Large-scale performances supported by the whole community and featuring top performers 

  • Large-scale performance in gymnasium or auditorium
  • Modeled after hit TV-show vocal competitions
  • Supported by multiple departments of the Youth Development Organization
  • Feature the music program’s top performers
  • Special event that helps motivate participants to excel musically
  • Used as a tool for recruitment or recognition of participants (particularly older teens)

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