Rhythm, Rhyme, and… Writing

Evan is a joyful, active member of his Music Clubhouse. He has always been eager to record music and try new things. “Recording songs is my favorite thing in the world,” he says. “I want to do it every day.”

The staff became curious as to why he was resistant to writing down his lyrics and why he insisted on only freestyling. When they realized that Evan also had trouble with other elements of music structure and writing, it became clear that Evan struggled with literacy in general. And, he was embarrassed to try writing in front of his peers.

His mentors created a unique approach to help him improve these skills without singling him out. Evan’s Music Clubhouse director shared the technique. “Our sessions were focused on a structured lyric writing approach for the entire group.” Combining a rhyming thesaurus with a syllable-based counting activity “provided a comfortable platform for Evan to develop his literacy skills through his passion for music.”

The best part is that Evan’s self-confidence increased. “As the program went along,” explains his Music Clubhouse director, “Evan became more comfortable reading and writing in front of his peers. He found a whole new level of understanding and appreciation for the depth and intentionality behind carefully crafted lyrics.” Evan now enjoys practicing writing using the approach he learned in the Music Clubhouse, and his literacy skills continue to improve!

“It’s always amazing to see youth grow in non-musical ways through their access to music.”

Janie’s Story

It’s not hard to understand why 13-year-old, Janie, struggles with managing her anger. Her dad has been in prison for several years, and all Janie wants is for him to come home. 

At the Music Clubhouse, Janie was given the opportunity to write a song about her dad and to express her vision of what life will be like when he’s released. She worked all summer long creating the right beat, writing the lyrics that properly conveyed her feelings, and recording the finished track. 

At the end of the summer, Janie was able to perform this deeply personal song in front of her entire family. It was a transformative experience, and everyone was so proud of how Janie channeled her anger into a creative outlet.

After the performance, Janie approached her Music Clubhouse director. “Thank you for helping me express myself!” she said. 

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.