Instrument Loaner Program

The Instrument Loaner Program provides participants with instruments at home giving them the opportunity to continue music lessons, regular practice and increase their creativity.

Requirements: 

  • Parent Permission/registration materials
  • Participation in virtual workshops and performances 
  • (Optional) 150 word essay answering – “What are the musical goals you hope to accomplish?”

Additional Information: 

  • Participants and parents assume responsibility of caring for instruments and damage (other than general wear and tear)
  • Prompt return at Loan Due Return Date

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Using the Nashville Number System to Create Bands

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

Give 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. Help participants feel like a “star” in front of their peers while motivating them to improve on their skills. 

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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
Guitar/bassPiano 
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 
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New Participant Orientation Tools

Expecting lots of new kids this Fall? Set them up for success with these handy tools!

Download the bundle of all of the New Participant Orientation Tools

or choose an individual resource:

New Participant Orientation Process

New Participant Orientation Process

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

Sample House Rules

Help establish expectations for all participants and ensure proper use of the equipment and facilities.  ...
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Equipment Orientation Worksheets

Equipment Orientation Worksheets

These quick Equipment Orientation Worksheets are perfect for beginners on amp, bass, drums, guitar, mics, ...
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Musical Poster Boards

Musical Poster Boards

Large posters you can print and hang in your music room to help remind participants ...
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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 program, 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! One way to help newbies feel welcome is to use this THREE STEP orientation process which includes:

  1. Reviewing House Rules (a sample is provided as a guide)
  2. Get participants comfortable by using Orientation Worksheets to explain the basics for Recording Studio, Guitar, Bass, Drums, Piano, and more…
  3. Creating personal folders for each participant

In addition, help new participants:

  • Feel welcome and comfortable with how to get involved
  • Understand how to treat all equipment with care and respect
  • Set a foundation for success by completing orientations on each instrument or music technology

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How to…

Step 1: House Rules

  • Develop a set of House Rules for your program, ideally with input/buy-in from your youth participants.
  • The rules set expectations for general behavior and for how they handle musical equipment.
    • Creates a sense of pride in the music program
    • Makes it less likely that equipment becomes damaged or broken
    • Avoids dangerous or disruptive sound levels
  • The first worksheet in the orientation process should be YOUR House Rules. Each new participant should review these rules and keep a copy in their folder.

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You may also want to download… 

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

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Music Production for Large Groups

Got a big group for your studio – why not have them all contribute on a track?!

Sometimes you end up with 15 beginner participants in your studio and they all want to make a beat right now! Music Production for Large Groups gives you some tips on how to create a “patchwork quilt” music production project. This allows many different participants with different tastes, preferences, ideas and skills all to contribute to one big tapestry… your final track!  

In addition participants:

  • Learn basic music production and songwriting techniques
  • Learn collaboration while working towards an end goal
  • Are inspired to work on solo music production projects
  • Produce enough tracks to release an album

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How to…

  • Establish:
    • End goal/s (i.e. “Album Release” party and/or performance at end of the semester)
    • Session days and times. Meet with the group on a regular basis.
    • Participants who are interested in contributing (include as many as possible)
    • Themes or topics, decided upon as a group and influenced by the music mentors/staff
  • Participants collaboratively produce style/genre, samples, sounds, and beats
  • Break down the beat into smaller sections or individual elements for participants to perform/record
    • For example, to produce the drum track:
      • Participant “A” performs bass drum pattern on trigger pad
      • Participant “B” performs snare drum pattern
      • Participant “C” performs hi-hat pattern
      • Participant “D, E and F” record claps on 2 & 4
      • Etc…
    • Repeat this process for bass and chords
      • Participants layer single notes on guitar, bass, and/or piano
    • Involve different participants for each Verse, Chorus, and Bridge. Mentors continually keep the momentum going.
  • Add lyrics once beat is finalized
    • Download a rhyming dictionary App on iPads
    • Each participant writes lyrics to contribute to the project (i.e. 1 or 2 bars worth of lyrics)
    • Each participant performs their lyrics in the isolation booth right away. This gets them hooked, motivated, and involved.
  • Mix and finalize the track
    • Participants who don’t want to sing/perform can help with the final mix by editing and adding effects.
    • Participants can also get involved in creating album art, photo/video, etc., to help support the album’s creation.
  • Repeat this process until participants have produced several tracks
  • Rehearse and prepare for an album release party, and have all participants perform their original songs
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“Sticky” Instrument Challenges

Want beginners to have instant success on instruments? Forget notation and pick up some tape or stickers!

“Sticky” Instrument Challenges are a great way to “gamify” your music program and expose participants to new things without having to learn music theory/notation first. At the start of each day, introduce several Instrument Challenges for participants to choose from (on different instruments). For example, participants have to complete a challenge in order to “unlock” privileges like using the recording studio, or instrument equipment, etc. “Sticky” Instrument Challenges help introduce basic concepts and gives participants success right away in hopes that they “stick” with it.

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How to…

  • Decide how often you’ll introduce the Instrument Challenges challenge. For example,
    • Every day – choose a specific time, etc. 
    • Each week (e.g. every Wednesday – or whatever day you choose) 
  • Decide on the format of the challenge – ie. everyone must complete or make it an optional challenge that helps participants earn extra privileges, etc.  
  • Make it easy for all skill levels to complete the challenges; examples include: 
    • Piano – use “Avery See-Through Removable Color Dots”, Post-it Page Markers (multi-color pack), Multi-colored dry erase markers 
    • Guitar/bass – use masking tape along the top of the neck/fretboard – label the fret number in sequence 
    • Drums – use an easy “play along” track, YouTube clip or take a video of an instructor playing a basic groove.  
  • Create fun challenges that participants must complete before participating in other programs/activities (displayed on a white board). Examples include: 
    • “Chord Buster” – Participants must play through a I-IV-V progression.  
      • Piano – Green dots = C Major chord, Red dots = F Major, Blue dots = G Major
      • Guitar/bass – #1 = Low E string, 8th fret (C); #2 = Low E string, 1st fret (F); #3 = Low E string, 3rd fret (G)
    • “Melody Mystery” – Place a sequence of colored dots or label fretboard that participants must “decode” in order to play a familiar melody.
    • “Octave Obsession” – Place colored dots or label fretboard on various octaves, and discuss the basic concept of what participants are playing.
    • “Scale Trail” – Place colored dots or label fretboard on various scales and discuss key signatures with participants.
    • “Intricate Intervals” – Place colored dots or label fretboard on basic scale intervals for a quick ear training exercise.
    • “Groove Master” – ask participants to recreate a drum groove on a video or recording
    • “Rhythm Xerox” – participants have to repeat a series of rhythms 
  • Optional – Use the same concepts for helping participants on music technology equipment 

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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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