Extending Music Programming to Additional Rooms

Given the COVID related limitations on the number of youth in a room and limits on contacts with staff members, here are some thoughts on how to have an instructor in one room providing lessons to a group of youth in another room.


The easiest way to do this is by setting up a Zoom session between an instructor and the various youth participants.  The general idea is that each participant joins the same Zoom session and the instructor can watch them play their music. The instructor can also offer one-on-one feedback by using Breakout Rooms. The following describes the process in greater detail.

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How to run a Zoom music session

The instructor invites each participant to join the same Zoom session.  Each participant will need to have their own Zoom device to join the session, which could be any of the following:

  • Laptop
  • Desktop
  • Chromebook
  • iPad
  • Smart phone

NOTE: It would be great to be able to connect the instruments or the production equipment directly to the participant’s Zoom device, but unfortunately this capability does not currently exist for Zoom – so the Zoom device really just captures the video and audio of the participant using their instrument or production gear.

The instructor uses Zoom to see and hear every participant as they perform  

  • The instructor runs a workshops without being physically present with the participants
    • All participants sign into the same Zoom meeting 
    • Instructor provides participants with general instructions and expectations for the lesson 
    • Participants can all be in the same room, or they can be isolated in different rooms
  • Using Zoom breakout rooms
    • With Zoom breakout rooms, each participant can be in their own breakout room to get individual instruction, and then be added back into the larger Zoom session for group instruction.  
    • The instructor enables Zoom “Breakout” rooms (https://youtu.be/Zc5GkepLIVQ
    • Participants could be assigned to different breakout rooms depending on things such as their: 
      • Skill
      • Song choice
      • Instrument 

Musical Equipment Recommendations

In order to get the best musical sound using the built in microphone of each Zoom device, we would suggest following these guidelines for the various Workshops your instructor might lead.  

  • Voice Workshops
    • For basic Voice workshops you can use the built in microphone of the device your participant is using to connect to Zoom.  This may not be of high quality, but is fine for this purpose.
    • Optional – Advanced setups could include an external microphone and audio interface
  • Guitar, Bass and Ukulele Workshops
    • Each of these instruments generates its own sound which can be picked up by the built in microphone your participant is using for Zoom. 
    • For each instrument you will need:
      • Acoustic guitar – guitar, stand, tuner, and pick 
      • Electric and/or Bass guitar – guitar, stand, small amp, instrument cable, tuner, and pick 
      • Ukulele – Ukulele, and tuner
    • Recommended Equipment: 
      • Electric Guitar/bass – Fender Strat Squire or Epiphone Les Paul style (or equivalent) with practice amp
      • Yamaha JR1 3/4-size Acoustic Guitar – $150/each
      • Include a bag/case (if available) 
      • Note: ¾ size guitars may be easier for various ages to use (if available) 
      • Kala Ukulele Starter Kit – $60/each
  • Drum Workshops
    • The drums generate their own sound which can be picked up by the built in microphone your participant is using for Zoom. 
    • Each drum set will need:
      • Practice pad – Pad and sticks
        • Optional – Pad mount/stand (otherwise – setup on desks/tables) 
      • Electric Drum pad – Electronic drum pad and sticks 
    • Recommended Equipment: 
  • Beat Making Workshops
    • We highly recommend using an iPad-based Portable Music Production Station – $1200/each.  This will give each participant an iPad, midi-keyboard, microphone and controller – everything they need for making beats.

Additional Resources: 

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Household Foley

Most realistic sound effect wins! 

Welcome your participants to your virtual music session by creating a fun foley icebreaker contest.  For example, participants have to recreate a horse galloping using only household items. The participants with the most realistic sound wins! 

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How to…

  • At the start of each Zoom session, challenge participants to create a foley sound effect 
  • Give participants a prompt (see examples below) 
  • Participants are given 3 minutes to find a household item that sounds like the prompt 
  • One by one participants turn off their camera and perform their sound effect
  • At the end of the listening session, participants vote on whose foley sound best represents the prompt
  • Foley sound Examples: 
    • Horse gallop = plastic cups 
    • Fire = cellophane or potato chip bag
    • Heartbeats = thump on a plastic trash can
    • Sword Scrapes = metal spatula and cooking tray
    • Spooky Chains = a ring of keys
    • Whoosh or Karate chops = fly swatter, dowel rods or sticks, cable, or jump rope
    • Tap shoes = pens on a table/counter
  • Be creative and have fun! 

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4 “Masked” Music Production Ideas

You’ve heard of the “Masked Singer”… now try the “Masked” Producer!

Social distancing has limited the number of participants that can be served at any given time, which is especially challenging in the studio or smaller isolation booth spaces. So, how do you encourage music production collaborations when you can only have one youth participant in the studio at a time? Use these limitations to your advantage and encourage youth to make beats with an element of mystery.

In addition.. 

  • Projects can be done in either virtual, in-person or hybrid programming models. For Virtual programming – use a collaborative browser-based DAW like Soundtrap 
  • NOTE: Disinfect production workstations and equipment between each use (if applicable) 

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How to… 

  • Mystery Musical (production) Chairs – Multiple participants
    • Set up 3 (or more) Music Production stations in your music program space or multiple rooms
      • Can be as simple as an iPad and headphones or more complex production workstation 
    • Can be adapted for time, done over multiple days or send files virtually – the key is keeping identity of each participant a secret until the end
    • Here is an hour-long Mystery Musical (production) Chairs session example: 
      • 15 minutes – Assign participants to start a new project (e.g. create a 4-8 bar loop) 
      • 15 minutes – Participants rotate to another workstation and must add or build off of what the previous participant has already created
      • 15 minutes – Participants rotate again to another workstation (same as previous step) 
      • 15 minutes – Final tracks are played – youth reveal what they contributed to each track 
  • Covert Chords – Multiple participants
    • Assign all participants to create a beat using the same Keys/synth/guitar/bass loop
    • Loops can be original, Splice, Garageband, etc.
    • Determine a timeframe for the project (e.g. 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week, etc) depending on skill level 
    • Participants work on their beats individually and come together for a final listening session 
    • Compare and contrast how each participant interpreted the loop 
  • Ghost Writing – Multiple participants
    • Decide on a theme for the song/project (e.g. Social Justice, Video Games, etc) – Be creative! 
    • Play a stock beat or loop over speakers (or in Zoom) 
    • Everyone writes 4-8 bars of lyrics based on the theme
    • One at a time, participants sing/rap/record their lyrics in the studio, but the previous participant’s performance is muted 
    • Play the final mashed-up song for all participants at the end
  • Production Pen Pals – Two participants
    • Pair two producers or musical artists together but keep their identities a secret 
    • Determine a production schedule of when each participant will come to the studio (or work virtually) on a track. Also set time limits on how long each participant can spend working on the project. For example: 
      • Participant #1 – Monday and Wednesday 3-4pm
      • Participant #2 – Tuesday and Thursday 3-4pm 
      • Participant #1 and #2 – Final listening session on Friday 3-4pm 
    • The first participant starts a beat in the studio (or virtually) and each participant take turns adding/subtracting to the beat in isolation and saving any vocal productions for last 
    • On the final day the duo is brought together (socially distanced) to reveal their identities and listen to the final production 
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Virtual Summer Camp

To download ALL Virtual Summer Camp Resources – Click below:

Or… download individual links below:

Virtual Programming Starter Resources – Customizable templates for Zoom settings, staff guidelines, parent permission forms, sample email communications, and more.

4 Virtual Programming Ideas – One approach for Group Instrument Lessons on Zoom, Virtual Production Sessions, and Virtual “concerts”

Virtual Listening Party – “Open mic” style event for producers, songwriters and instrumentalists to showcase their talents and creativity

Tackling Social Issues in the Music Industry – Use popular music trends to get your teen participants to tackle important social issues 

Rhythm Roulette (Using Splice) – Challenge your participants to a weekly beat making challenge using predetermined samples

• Cover Song Challenge – Set up a weekly Cover Song competition to encourage virtual collaboration and music making

To download ALL Virtual Summer Camp Resources – Click below:

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Virtual Programming Starter Resources

Less Administration… MORE Zoom Creation
Customizable templates so you can spend less time on paperwork and more time on YOUTH work!

To download ALL Virtual Programming Starter Resources – Click below:

Or… Download individual documents below and adapt for your music program

• Recommended Zoom Settings and Staff Guidelines
9 Steps to Set up your Zoom account and helpful staff guidelines

• Sample Staff Guidelines for Virtual Programming
Simple Staff Guidelines when conducting Virtual Programming on Zoom

• Sample Parent Consent Using Google Forms
Customize your own parent consent form using Google Forms

• Sample Email Templates for Virtual Programming
Email Templates to efficiently communicate with Parents/Guardians

• Participant Guide for Zoom Meetings
Practical help for your participants who are new to Virtual Programming

To download ALL Virtual Programming Starter Resources – Click below:

Explore similar resources in “Resources for Virtual Music Programming” or “Virtual Summer Camp

Virtual Listening Party

Give producers a platform to share their projects with their peers – building self-confidence

We’ve all had to adapt our programs as we’ve transitioned to virtual programming – one challenge has been creating opportunities for participants to share what they’ve been working on while receiving feedback from their peers. Virtual Listening Parties are regular Zoom meetings in an “open mic” night format that give producers, songwriters and instrumentalists the opportunity to showcase their talents and creativity. Hosted by the staff or youth, participants submit their songs or projects ahead of time to build a “set list” that keeps the party going. Attendees are encouraged to support their friends by dancing along, dropping a comment in chat or simply lending a supportive ear.

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How to… 


  • Pick and promote a date for your participants to showcase their work during a “Listening Party” 
  • Collect youth tracks and projects ahead of time leading up to the Listening Party
    • Time Frame is up to you (e.g. weekly, monthly or every 2-3 weeks, etc) 
  • Staff create a “set list” of original songs or projects (bounced files are cued up)
  • Invite EVERYONE (Send Zoom meeting information) 
    • Invite performers AND participants not involved as audience members – Could help:  
      • Increase motivation for participants to join next time 
      • Inspire youth to sign up for production class or create a project of their own
      • Become a recruiting tool for other virtual music programs 
    • Also invite Parents/supports (if appropriate) 

Hosting the Listening Party 

  • Decide on an emcee or host (e.g. Music Staff, Youth/teen participants, or combination of both) 
  • Play the track 
    • Give a brief introduction to each song/performer – then play the track (via screen share) 
    • Audience should share encouraging comments in the chat 
      • Provides real-time feedback 
      • Boosts self-confidence of performers/presenters
      • Can help to facilitate a Q&A between performers and audience 
  • Keep things moving quickly between acts
  • If there is extra time, let others share
    • Like an “open mic” night allow participants who were reluctant to sign up share as well
  • Promote your programs, schedule and opportunities 
    • Share your virtual program schedule and opportunities 
    • Share the date of your next Listening Party 
    • Share contact information if participants have questions 
    • Share other ways they can get involved
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4 Virtual Programming Ideas

Virtual is the new reality – here are 4 virtual program ideas to get you started!

Members of the music staff at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston describe their approach for virtual instrument lessons, music production sessions and virtual jam sessions on ZOOM as well as how their youth participants are “taking over” their social media accounts to host live concerts. 

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Example #1 – Group Instrument Lessons on Zoom 

“Participants are so grateful for the attention and interaction with instructors and their friends that they will “listen in” to other’s coaching sessions even though the instructors aren’t giving them 100% of their time. ” – Submitted by Daniel “DP” Pattianakotta, Yawkey Club of Roxbury Instagram:  @yawkeymusic YouTube: Yawkey Music Clubhouse
  • Each Zoom call is a group lesson with 3-4 participants at a time 
  • Participants are at various skill levels and working on their own individual songs
  • Lessons typically go for 1 hour and participants take turns muting/unmuting their mic when it’s their turn to play or sing (while other lesson attendees listen in) 
  • Participants play a track or karaoke version of a song (over computer speakers, etc) and then sing or play their instrument along with the track 
  • Instructors check in on each participants progress periodically through the session
  • Some have instruments/equipment while others have been innovative/creative (ie. using an iPad Keyboard app to play their favorite songs). 

Example #2 – Virtual Music Production Sessions 

“Before the shutdown, participants were working on their own original songs with a goal to create an album. I continue to reach out to these participants to encourage them to keep writing and collaborating.” 
Submitted by Brooke Magidson, Yawkey Club of Roxbury Instagram: @yawkeymusic YouTube: Yawkey Music Clubhouse
  • Music Production sessions are individually scheduled 
  • Staff share their computer screen on Zoom and create beats in Logic Pro X with the participants input
  • Before each session: 
    • Send each participant a bounced reference track 
    • Participants can prepare by writing lyrics and practicing their rapping/singing
  • During the Zoom session participants play the track in the background and rap/sing over top of the beat (using their iPhone headphone’s microphone) 
  • Staff listen and coach participants on their lyrics, rhythm, phrasing and “flow”, etc. 
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Participant Guide for Zoom Meetings

Practical help for your participants who are new to Virtual Programming

This downloadable and customizable template includes guidance for your youth participants like:

  • Materials needed to join a Zoom meeting
  • Zoom setup and audio/video settings
  • Common Zoom functions and best practices
  • Participant expectations while on Zoom
  • Links to “getting started” guides and videos

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You will need: 
  • An internet connection – broadband wired or wireless
  • Headset/earbuds with microphone
  • Webcam – built-in or USB plug-in

*NOTE: If you are unable to join from Zoom on a computer or mobile device, then you can join on the telephone instead. Dial the phone number provided; then enter the Meeting ID and password when prompted.

*TIP: If you use a headset or earbuds with a mic, be sure to plug those in to your computer before joining the Zoom meeting.

Enter the Zoom meeting using a computer or the zoom app:

Your meeting host will provide the URL to the Zoom room as well as a Meeting ID and a password. Simply click the URL or paste into your browser of choice to open the meeting. You will be asked to provide the Meeting ID and password. This will get you to a “Waiting Room”. The meeting host will then give you permission to join the meeting. Audio and video setup:

After launching the Zoom meeting from the meeting URL, you will be prompted to join the room’s audio. Click “join audio by computer.” Zoom allows audio participation through your computer’s internal speakers, a headset, or a phone line.

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Recommended Zoom Settings and Staff Guidelines

9 Steps to Set up your Virtual Zoom programming and helpful staff guidelines

This downloadable and customizable template includes guidance for your youth participants like:

  • Getting parent consent
  • Signing up for an appropriate Zoom account
  • Setting up meeting features to keep your members as safe as possible
  • Enabling other features that will help you run meetings
  • Enabling cloud recording for special situations
  • Expectations Regarding Mandated Reporting
  • Scheduling a meeting with your members
  • Keeping Meetings On Track
  • Frequently Asked Questions

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Step 1: Get parent consent
Step 2: Sign up for an appropriate Zoom account 
  • Pro Accounts are recommended and cost $15 per month and allow you to implement additional safety features. You can sign up for one at https://zoom.us/pricing.
Step 3: Set the meeting features to keep your members as safe as possible (You will only have to do this step once!)

Go to https://zoom.us/account/setting. Scroll down until you reach a section entitled “In Meeting (Basics)” or select “In Meeting (Basics) on the left hand side of your screen. Do the following things:

  • Allow meeting participants to send a message visible to all participants
  • Allow participants to save the chat 
  • Do NOT allow meeting participants to send a private 1:1 messages to another participant 
    • (Note: As the host you will still be able to message participants privately. You should NOT do this! Similarly, if a member messages you privately do NOT respond to them directly as this would violate our “Rule of Three”.)
  • Allow Zoom to automatically save all in-meeting chats
  • Lock all of your selections. 
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Sample Email Templates for Virtual Programming

Customize the following Sample Email Templates to efficiently communicate with Parents/Guardians

This downloadable and customizable template includes guidance for your youth participants like:

  • General Parent/Guardian Permission Request
  • Zoom Programming and Video Release Consent for Live Performances Request
  • Virtual Consent for Xbox Live & Zoom Programming Request

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Dear Parent/Guardian: 

In an effort to continuously serve members during the [Name of Organization] closure, [Name of Organization] staff are providing virtual programming using Zoom.  Zoom allows video conferencing to take place in pre-scheduled classes between [Name of Organization] staff and members.  

In order to participate in virtual programming, you will need the following:

  • A computer, mobile, or tablet device with access to the Internet
  • A quiet space at home in which members can participate 
  • To register for Zoom you will need to provide some customer data, including but not limited to:  your email address and first and last name (for more information, see https://zoom.us/privacy)   

 To maintain safety, virtual programming is being implemented with the following parameters in place:

  • No child will be allowed to participate in virtual programming without advanced permission from a parent/guardian.
  • All virtual programming will be administered by two [Name of Organization] staff

If you consent to having your child use Zoom for virtual programming, please respond to this email with the following message:

  • “I, [PLEASE TYPE YOUR FULL NAME], the parent/guardian of [PLEASE YOUR CHILD’S FULL NAME], give permission for him/her to participate in [Name of Organization] virtual programming at [Name of Organization].”

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

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