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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VIP Band Program

Motivate your Very Important Participants to become Virtuoso Instrument Players!

Avoid the musical progress plateau with your participants by motivating and challenging them with an exclusive VIP Band program opportunity (for those who want it). Each week, Junior band participants (age 10-13) and Senior band participants (age 14-18) participate in exclusive workshops and programs that help build mastery in their chosen instrument. Participants receive weekly instrument workshops, theory courses, music technology experiences and build strong bonds with their peers in an ensemble. VIP Band ensembles are also given higher stakes performance opportunities in your organization or in the community, giving them a sense of pride in their hard work and dedication.  

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How to… 

Participation in the VIP Band Program is divided into two groups and is typically limited to no more than 15-20 participants for each band: 

  • Junior Band: ages 10-13
  • Senior Band: ages 14-18 

Each week, VIP Band participants commit to participating core music program elements, which may include: 

  • Instrument Workshop (of their choice) 
    • Take at least one instrument workshop per semester taught by Music Program staff 
    • Track weekly attendance (communicated with parents)
  • Musical Knowledge 
  • Apply rhythm and notation basics to their chosen instrument
  • Compose an original 16-32 bar song by the end of each semester
  • Music Technology 
    • Participate in a weekly Music Technology activity such as: “Sound alike” projects, iPad beat making, Recording Studio sessions
    • Record an original song with distinct “A” and “B” sections by the end of each semester
  • Ensemble
    • Apply musical knowledge in a band
    • Learn rehearsal and performance techniques 
    • Perform in one Open Mic night by the end of the semester

Tracking VIP participants’ progress: 

  • Create a poster board tracking sheet (see example below) 
  • Participants get a stamp in the category activity they’ve completed each week. Visually displaying progress is motivational to the participants.
  • VIP’s must have 3 stamps at the end of each week, 12 stamps at the end of each month

Sample VIP Band Incentives: 

  • First to know about concert tickets, field trips
  • Prioritized Recording Session time
  • High profile performance opportunities (galas, fundraisers, community events, etc. 
  • Opportunities for music video shoot
  • Monthly rewards, raffles, prizes
  • Music books, lyric books, pick necklaces, VIP-only party (ice cream, movie night)
  • Raffle: Big prize could be Guitar Center gift card or iTunes gift card 
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