Cover Song Challenge

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, give them a sense of choice/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.  

Participants will experience… 

  • Motivation – performers get out of their comfort zone, sing in a band/group, perform in front of others, and improve their skills
  • Choice/independence – allows singers, instrumentalists, and staff a common playlist of popular song options (that they can choose from) to learn and play together
  • Recognition – singers learn about finding their unique voice and talents as an artists and are recognized and mentored through the competition

Read More

How to… 

  • Plan a Master Schedule for the semester for the Cover Song Challenge 
    • For example, the typical after-school music program runs 8-12 weeks during the Fall and Spring, and 8-10 weeks during the Summer.  
    • Plan an entire semester’s worth of weekly “Cover Song Challenge” themes. Try to create categories that can be achievable at any skill level (beginner – advanced). See “Sample Cover Song Challenge themes” below: 
  • Create a “Cover Song Challenge” approved Song List 
    • Choose a diverse set of popular songs with participants’ musical tastes in mind. Also be mindful of the level of difficulty and have song materials ready and adapted for various skill levels. 
    • FYI: By limiting song options from a common playlist, you give participants a sense “guided choice.” They are in control of what song they choose (even if it’s from a list of popular and current songs that most participants will like). This also allows the staff to focus on and prepare learning materials (i.e. tablature, sheet music, song form, lyric sheets, and lesson materials) for a realistic amount of songs.  
  • Each week, post a new cover song challenge in a prominent location (like on a bulletin board, etc.)
  • 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 
    • Receiving feedback from vocal instructors/staff 
    • Setting up a recording session or performance (for their submission) 
    • Submitting their Cover Song Challenge 
  • By end-of-day Thursday, participants must submit their cover song
    • Encourage participants to submit their entries using: 
      • Cell phone audio or video
      • iPad audio or video
      • A multi-tracked session in the studio 
  • On Friday, as a group, listen to each cover song and choose a winner for the week 
Page 1 of 2

To download a full, editable version

Explore similar resources in Performances

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

Read More

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
Page 1 of 1 (full text available in download)
To download a full, editable version

Explore similar resources in Music Production