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, especially when they’re at different skill levels and have different musical tastes. So, how do you keep everyone engaged? A Cover Song Challenge is a great way to increase participants’ motivation, provide them a sense of independence, and recognize their efforts. Active participants, beginners, and members who wouldn’t usually get involved all have the opportunity to try new things, collaborate, and showcase their skills.  

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How to… 

  • Plan a Master Schedule for the semester for the Cover Song Challenge 
    • Plan an entire semester’s worth of weekly “Cover Song Challenge” themes. Try to create categories that can be achievable at any skill level.
  • Create a “Cover Song Challenge” approved Song List 
    • Choose a diverse set of popular songs with participants’ musical tastes in mind.  Be mindful of the level of difficulty.  Have song materials ready and adapted for various skill levels. 
    • By limiting song options to a common playlist, you give participants a sense of “guided choice.” They are in control of what song they choose from the list.  
    • A set song list also makes it easier for the staff to prepare appropriate learning materials such as tablature, sheet music, song form, lyric sheets, and Workshop resources.  
  • Each week, post new cover song challenge flyers in prominent locations 
  • Participants work with staff and their peers to prepare their cover song, including: 
    • Selecting a song from the approved Song List 
    • Learning, practicing, and rehearsing individually or with a group 
    • Soliciting feedback from vocal instructors
    • Setting up a recording session or a video performance that will be used as their submission for the challenge
  • Participants submit their cover song using some or all of the following methods:
    • Cell phone audio or video
    • iPad audio or video
    • A multi-tracked session in the studio 
  • Everyone listens to each cover song and chooses a winner for the week 
  • Selecting a winner. There are multiple ways you can select your winner each week, the goal is to be consistent. 
    • Staff members choose their favorite cover song each week 
    • Youth participants vote each week 
    • Parents vote
  • Present the winner with an award
    • One idea is to create and frame “Cover Song Challenge” Golden Record awards to present to the winner each week. (e.g. Paint old vinyl records or CDs with gold spray paint; print a certificate; etc.)
    • Consider displaying the Golden Record Awards in a prominent location within your program space (e.g. in the hallway, studio wall, trophy case, etc.) 
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