Danny’s Story: Mobile Studio Opens Up a Whole New World

Danny is a teen who desperately needed something more. Every day, he would hang out in the local youth center after school, but he wasn’t doing anything productive. The sports-focused programming at the center didn’t seem to motivate him.

Then Music & Youth introduced its new program, “The Mobile Studio,” and a whole new world opened up to Danny.

Each week, the Mobile Studio— which is a complete recording studio all neatly contained in a portable case— was able to transform Danny’s community center into a music production hub for teens.

The Mobile Studio director says that “Danny was immediately engaged.” On his first day, he helped create a beat with a group. And in subsequent weeks, Danny added lyrics and eventually recorded his own vocal track. “The amount of positive feedback he received from his peers after the release of that song was unprecedented,” says the Mobile Studio director.

The Mobile Studio itself is getting as much buzz as Danny’s song. “I can’t express how excited the participants are when the Mobile Studio shows up,” says the director. “It’s a new experience in a familiar space. It’s really exciting for them.”

It certainly has been exciting for Danny, who is now extremely motivated. He writes new lyrics often, helps the younger participants, and takes every opportunity to record. He even started coming to the center when his friends aren’t there just to maximize the amount of time he gets at the Mobile Studio.

“My experience with the Mobile Studio is one of the best things that could’ve happened to me, honestly,” says Danny. “People love the music that I created. People at school are telling me, ‘Danny, you make good music.’ Without the music program or the Mobile Studio director, I wouldn’t have this much fun.”

Reverb Gives Donates $2,500-Worth of Musical Instruments to Music & Youth Initiative

Boston, MA (June 2019) — Music & Youth Initiative is excited to announce that it has received a $2,500 grant from Reverb Gives, the charitable arm of Reverb.com, the online marketplace for musicians to buy, sell, and learn about new and used musical instruments. Thanks to Reverb Gives, Music & Youth will be able to put more instruments into the hands of youth in the Music Clubhouse program.

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Teen “Meant to Be” in Recording Studio

On Alora’s first day in the Music Clubhouse— where she signed up for a Voice & Songwriting workshop— she was too afraid to sing on a mic.

“I’ve just always loved music,” says Alora. “But the thing is, I never thought I would be good actually singing to my own songs.”

Fast forward just a few months, and Alora has recorded a completely original song— her own writing, backing beats, and track for the lyrics. And her peers voted her as Artist of the Month for two months in a row.

These achievements are a result of Alora’s grit and dedication, with many hours in the studio, first learning the technology to produce the beats herself, and then to create (and create again) until she was happy with the final product.

“When I started recording in the studio, it just clicked. It was meant to be,” she says.

Alora also made sure to take advantage of all of the mentorship and guidance that was available to her, from music program staff to other youth participants, who helped her with the studio equipment and gave her feedback and encouragement throughout the creative process.

“There’s no way could I have done this on my own,” says Alora. “I didn’t even know how to use the recording studio when I started and I still don’t 100%, but I know a lot more now than I did before. It’s an ongoing process, but I learn more each time I come here!”

When asked what’s next for her, Alora said it was up in the air. “You never know when the inspiration is going to come!” We can’t wait to see what she produces next!

Teen in Foster Care Finds Stability and Confidence Through Music

When 13-year-old Camila was moved through the foster care system, one thing she always took with her was her small toy keyboard. Camila loved music and kept her keyboard in her backpack and brought it everywhere. She could often be seen listening to her limited selection of music on her mp3 player.

By chance, her most recent move was to a city with a Boys & Girls Club and a Music Clubhouse. She didn’t have friends or a social network there yet, but she did have her passion for music. And now, with regular access to a full-size keyboard and instrument instruction from the music mentors, Camila gained enormous confidence and incredible skills on the piano. Additionally, Camila had a knack for singing and songwriting and quickly became one of the Club’s “regulars” during studio time.

Her Music Clubhouse Director says, “The most remarkable transformation for Camila was really in her social life at the Club. The whole staff quickly saw this introverted, shy young lady come out of her shell and become one of the most vocal young teens and active members of the Club.”

Camila agrees. “I’ve met some of my best friends here in the studio.”

A natural leader, Camila was always eager to step into a teaching role and help out younger members. Camila also has been a role model for her peers. “She really set the bar for young teens in the studio,” says her Clubhouse Director.

Dedicated to her craft, Camila became the first member of her Music Clubhouse to ever receive a special award for recording 3 or more songs with real instrumentation and vocals. On a typical day, you’ll likely see her seated at the piano for three hours or more.

“The studio is my favorite place to be,” says Camila. “I can play a real piano and express myself in a place where people understand me.”

In a short time, Camila has come a long way from toting the toy keyboard in her backpack.

“Camila is one of the best examples of the power that music and positive mentorship can have on a young person who otherwise lives a life of uncertainty,” says her Clubhouse Director. “She can take these tools with her and grow from them in the future.”

Music & Youth Initiative Grants $360,000 to 11 Nonprofits to Support After-School Music Programs

Boston MA, January 15, 2019— The Music & Youth Initiative is pleased to announce that in 2018, it provided $360,000 in cash, equipment, and in-kind support to 11 Youth Development Organizations in Massachusetts, Texas, and Georgia, to support their after-school music programs.

With funding and partnership with Music & Youth, these Organizations are able to establish and sustain Music Clubhouses where underserved youth, ages 10-18, have access to contemporary instruments; state-of-the-art music production and technology; performance opportunities, and much more. With a strong focus on mentorship, Music & Youth’s approach helps build participants’ self-confidence and self-esteem, providing them with life-changing skills that they can apply well beyond the music studio.

“Giving youth the opportunity to play the music they love on the instruments that they’re excited about is enough to help a teen stay off the streets. It gives them a creative outlet that they may not have had otherwise.” says Gary Eichhorn, CEO of the Music & Youth Initiative. “And the skills our participants learn are transferable to many aspects of their lives now and in the future.”

Collectively, the Clubhouses had over 1,000 youth enrolled in contemporary music lessons in 2018.

The Massachusetts organizations receiving grants in 2018 were:
Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston
Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester
Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell
Hyde Square Task Force
Malden YMCA
Merrimack Valley YMCA
Sociedad Latina
Waltham Boys & Girls Club
West End House Boys & Girls Club

Also receiving grants in 2018 were:
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County (TX)
Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta (GA)

About Music & Youth Initiative: (www.musicandyouth.org)
Music & Youth establishes sustainable, high quality after-school contemporary music programs for underserved youth ages 10-18, through collaboration with leading Youth Development Organizations, Universities, and Corporate Partners. These programs are free (or for a minimal cost) to the participating youth. Founded in 2004, Music & Youth Initiative is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Turning Pain Into Inspiration

13-year-old Yannis is wise beyond his years. Maybe it’s because he has experienced things that most kids don’t have to deal with at such a young age. Yannis’s mother died when he was only 3-years-old.

“Nothing ever takes away the pain of loss,” says Yannis, “but you can move on and never forget, always honor where you came from and who was important in your life.”

It was this sentiment that drew him to the Ten Toes Challenge, an online viral challenge in which kids freestyle over the “Ten Toes Down” instrumental line. The typical themes for the raps are about hardships in relationships, tragic losses, and other struggles in life.

After sitting in on just a few recording sessions at the Music Clubhouse, Yannis went home and wrote a rap about his mom and living without her. “It’s a heavy subject for a 13-year-old, let alone anyone, to confront and deal openly with the hardship he and his family have gone through,” says his music Clubhouse Director. “His goal was that he wanted to be real and write about something that hits close to home for him, but also something that he has learned to overcome.”

When Yannis shared his original track with the other members of the Music Clubhouse, they were really supportive. It was a pivotal moment for Yannis and his peers. Yannis not only had the encouragement of his community, but he was also giving back through his message. “I hope it helps other kids who are going through a hard time to just know there’s hope and support for you, and that family is number one,” says Yannis.

Teen Lets Her Guard Down, Puts Trust in Mentors

Things weren’t going well for Carla. She was a teen who was often out at night, walking around town, and getting in to trouble. She was fighting at school. She didn’t deal well with authority.

Even when she was invited to join her local Music Clubhouse, it didn’t get better right away. Carla and two friends who joined with her simply “didn’t know how to work with others without escalating to screaming and fighting,” says her Music Director.

But the mentors at the Music Clubhouse don’t give up on their youth. During the first few weeks, staff followed up on Carla’s behavior throughout each day. They found out that Carla loves singing and dancing. And so they helped her prepare for performances at the Club’s open mic nights.

With each subsequent performance, Carla built up her self-confidence. She was even part of the Clubhouse’s first music video for which she co-wrote an entire verse with the help of the Club’s Youth Leader.

As she became more involved in the music program, Carla’s behavior improved. “We were able to show her that we are reliable, caring adult figures in her life,” says her Music Director, “And Carla slowly became more polite and one of the better behaved members of the Club.”

Carla’s tremendous strides extended well beyond the walls of the Music Clubhouse. She started fighting less often at school, and opened the door to high academic achievement. Report cards that once said things like, “struggles to behave and respect authority” now said “understands the material very well.”

Carla’s experience is a real-life example of the power of music, the power of mentorship, and the power of a teen who is ready to turn her life around.

“Groovey” Camp for Youth in Foster Care

With the help of a compassionate music mentor and the Music Impact Network, underserved youth have transformative musical experience


When professional bass player, Geena Spigarelli, considered what she might do while on break from touring this summer, she considered a number of things. Then she recalled how fulfilled she felt when she was a music mentor with Kids in a New Groove (KING), an Austin-based organization that provides free, private music instruction to youth living in foster care.

“I reached out to KING Executive Director, Laura Wood,” Geena says, “And we came up with the idea for a brand new Summer Music Camp.”

It was sure to be a success if only Geena could figure out what to do for whole a whole week with 20 kids, many who were living in a group home and had no prior music experience.

That’s where Music Impact Network came in. Continue reading