Introducing the Brockton Studio Clubhouse

“How can we create work that speaks to the times we’re in?” asks Guyclaude Lacossade, the Music Clubhouse Director at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro South, home to the newest Music & Youth Studio Clubhouse.

Guyclaude is tapping into the unprecedented challenges facing youth development organizations right now: how to create a balance between making sure that members’ most basic needs are met while also enriching their lives. “In addition to the concerns about physical health and safety,” says Guyclaude, “the kids have many questions and frustrations right now. Music helps them express how they feel. It gives them the tools they need to get through this time… Our job is to help them navigate these difficult moments through grace.”

In that sense, music is more important now than ever. And it’s one of the reasons why the Boys & Girls Club proceeded with investing in the new Studio amidst the pandemic. The relationship between the two organizations began several years ago when Music & Youth provided a small grant for a “starter” music studio. Since then, the Club has worked hard to open their full Studio Clubhouse in Brockton.

“Music is a convener of people. Whatever genre they like, music brings people together,” says Derek Heim, President & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro South. “For a lot of our teens, they’re looking for a place to become who they want to be in the future. Music & Youth is about mentorship and role modeling, and Guyclaude is all about relationship-building with our kids. He understands the City of Brockton and the youth we’re serving.”

Guyclaude’s vision for the Studio Clubhouse is to “allow the teens— many of whom are black and brown youth— to utilize their own capacity to create change and cause a culture shift.” The process involves creating opportunities and taking a holistic approach. “If I can make sure you’re ok up here,” Guyclaude says, pointing to his head, “then you’ll make the best music.”

Teen Improves Grades and Self-Confidence Through Music

Jaclyn is 13-years-old and comes to the Boys & Girls Club each day after school. Her parents work odd hours, so Jaclyn is often at the Club until closing time at 8pm and is regularly picked up by her grandparents. Until recently, Jaclyn struggled in school. Her academics were suffering and she was experiencing behavioral issues. Her passion for music has helped her improve both her grades and her behavior at school.

Jaclyn loves coming to the Music Clubhouse at the Boys & Girls Club, because she gets to write and perform her own songs. She says that the staff “helps me understand how to use the studio and all the gear inside of it. They teach me how to produce music and write parts for original songs.”

One Music Clubhouse staff member says he enjoys seeing Jaclyn “continue to develop her musical skills and make this a hobby that she can take a lot of pleasure in doing,” He adds, “She greatly enjoys the time she spends in the studio with her friends, working on her projects. She is getting more and more curious about music and how we can enhance the things she is working on.”

In addition to the improved academics, Jaclyn’s confidence has grown through opportunities to perform her music in front of a live audience. She performed at a showcase at a local gallery and at a holiday event at the Club, where she sang in front of 500 guests.

Teen Uses Music to Relieve Depression

Imagine being a young teen with the cards stacked against you… You’re bullied for being small; your grades are slipping at school because you have trouble focusing; your home life is unstable, because your dad is finishing a prison term. This was the reality for 14-year-old Warren, and it was taking its toll. Warren was experiencing depression and was terrified of his dark thoughts, he confessed to Music Clubhouse staff.

“I recommended to him that he could use music as a mechanism to release those feelings,” says his Music Clubhouse Director. “I told him that it’s a great tool for releasing stress and a good way to express his thoughts.”

Warren, who always loved music, took this advice to heart and started showing up at the Music Clubhouse every day. He learned new chord progressions on the guitar, plunked out melodies on the piano keys, and asked lots of questions about theory. Warren joined as many instrument and studio workshops as he could: guitar, piano, drums, and recording.

And the results? Not only has Warren’s musicianship improved, but his self-confidence has increased tremendously. His troubling incidents at school have subsided and his grades have gone up. He even had the confidence to perform in several Showcases at the Music Clubhouse.

At the most recent Showcase, Warren’s dad— recently released from prison— was able to attend. Warren and his dad both visibly beamed with pride as Warren performed one of his original songs.

“I believe that Warren has truly overcome a lot of hardship through the power of music,” says his Music Clubhouse Director. “He’s an excellent example of what our goal is at the Music Clubhouse.”

Music Brings Stability, Success to Teen

17-year-old Music Clubhouse member, Eddie, desperately needed some stability. In one year, he had moved over a dozen times all over the country before finally finding a suitable living situation with extended family. The chaos of that year affected his personal life and his academics.

The Music Clubhouse became a place where he could get his life back together.

Through determination and passion for music, Eddie learned to play the piano and master some very difficult pieces. Eddie quickly emerged as a natural mentor, and was soon hired as a Youth Leader in his Music Clubhouse. “He’s done a great job assisting in the Music Clubhouse, as well as running some of his own programs with our younger members,” says the Club’s Director of Operations. The younger participants in Eddie’s piano workshop all look up to him tremendously.

“It’s just really good to be able to bond through music with the kids,” says Eddie. “A kid can sing about whatever he wants and learn a new method of self-expression.”

This same opportunity for self-expression has inspired Eddie in his own life. He was the main youth speaker at his Club’s Annual Meeting. In attendance were Board members and key contributors and supporters, including City Counselors and the Mayor. At the conclusion of his speech, Eddie was given a standing ovation.

“Eddie is an inspiration not only to our kids, but a reminder to our staff on how important our work is,” says the Club’s Director of Operations. “Having the stability in the Club and the Music Clubhouse helped Eddie concentrate on his studies, become a leader, and gave him clarity about his future— he has chosen to join the Marines after graduation this summer.”

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.”

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.”

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.