April Network Forum: Community Engagement and Performance Opportunities

Special thanks to Abria Smith, Associate Director for Community Engagement in the Office of Community and Government Relations at Berklee, for sharing your insights at this month’s Forum.

Community Engagement: Gaining Local Support for Your Program

Key Relationships within the Community:

  1. City offices
  2. Other community nonprofits
  3. Neighborhood associations

Fostering these key relationships can offer a variety of benefits, such as:

  1. Gain support for your organization and its mission
  2. Grow your local network
  3. Learn about joint funding opportunities and collaborations
  4. Contribute to the culture of the neighborhood (can help with fundraising)
  5. Help legitimize your programming

 

Performance Opportunities:

Leveraging Your Brand

The goal is to be approached by others for performance opportunities. So how can you make it known in your community that your students are available, reliable, and professional?

Start by creating an authentic brand. At Berklee, the strength and reputability of our brand opens recognition makes it easier for Berklee to find opportunities. As a member of the City Music Network, your program can leverage its affiliation with Berklee when establishing your brand within your community. (For more information regarding the City Music Network Branding Toolkit, contact Jean Connaughton.)

You can introduce your program to the local community by hosting a public event, like an annual showcase, showing people first-hand how talented your students are. You can even connect it to a charitable cause!

Paid vs. Free Performances

Paid gigs are great, but free performances can also benefit your program. When approached about a volunteer or free performance opportunity consider how the relationship serves your organization, mission, or cause. If the organization is a non-profit, are they paying for everything else, other musicians or special guests?

Recruiting Top Talent for an Event
When engaging celebrities, artists, and local talent to support your program, a little research can help you leverage your appeal.

  1. What other organizations they support and does it align with what you do?
  2. Would partnering with another nonprofit for a particular event make the ask more relevant?
  3. Share what you do, acknowledge their value and don’t be afraid to ask them to donate their time
  4. Consider asking for them to speak instead of perform — they might be more willing to donate time for that
  5. Foster an ongoing relationship instead of a one-time ask

About the Network Forum

Each month, members from around the Berklee City Music Network® gather to discuss topics and best practices helping you to leverage City Music resources in support of your local program. To inquire about participating in next month’s Network Forum, email citymusic@berklee.edu.

March Network Forum: Engaging Local Alumni and Building a Volunteer Network

Special thanks to Vanessa Bouvry from Berklee Alumni Affairs for leading discussions about engaging local alumni.

Engaging Local Alumni: What You Need to Know

Berklee has 6 major cities with large concentrations of Berklee Alumni:

  1. Boston, MA
  2. New York City, NY
  3. Nashville, TN
  4. Miami, FL
  5. Los Angeles, CA
  6. San Francisco, CA

In each of these cities, there is a Berklee representative responsible for the region and a group of Alumni Volunteers. Regions outside of these 6 major cities may have Alumni Ambassadors.

Interested in contacting a Berklee alum to share an opportunity or information about your organization? Contact berklealumni@berklee.edu.

Engage alumni by providing win-win opportunities in which they can network with each other and elevate your organization and their career, all while giving back. Some suggested opportunities include:

  1. Hosting events
  2. Participating on panels
  3. Being paired with youth as a mentor
  4. Coaching
  5. Engineering
  6. Supporting music in schools
  7. Supporting music in the community

If you already work with an alum, ask them to reach out to their personal network to engage more people in support of your organization.

Building a Volunteer Network: Get Personal

Building your organization’s volunteer network should be a two-way process—your volunteers are helping to support your mission and organizational goals, and you should be just as in-tune with their needs.

  1. Give them roles that are appropriate for their qualifications and goals. Don’t give them a job they don’t want.
  2. Acknowledge their contributions! Send a personal thank you letter, a special note on their birthday, etc.
  3. Be available. Make sure your volunteers know they can reach you by email, phone, or text.

About the Network Forum

Each month, members from around the Berklee City Music Network® gather to discuss topics and best practices helping you to leverage City Music resources in support of your local program. To inquire about participating in next month’s Network Forum, email citymusic@berklee.edu.

Five Week Alumni Advice: Yancy Garcia

This is a guest post by Amp Up NYC student Yancy Garcia. Yancy attended five-week as a summer scholar in 2015.

YancyGarcia

What did you find most rewarding about your five-week experience? Outside of having the opportunity to meet industry professionals and getting great advice from them, the most rewarding experience would be the classes. My ensembles were great and I learned how to work with my peers during rehearsals and how to arrange our songs. My favorite, though, would have to be my music theory classes. Every lesson was engaging and my teacher was very enthusiastic – I gained a lot of musical knowledge.

What surprised you most about your experience? The most surprising experience at Five-Week would be getting to meet other students from all around the world. I met kids from South America, Europe, and all around the United States. I have never been in an environment with so many culturally diverse students.

What piece of advice would you give a student who is attending for the first time? For a new incoming student to the Five-Week program, I would definitely say to bring more than enough clothes because 5 weeks are longer than it sounds! But, really, go to the program with an open mind and be willing to get out of your comfort zone.

 

Amp Up NYC® is a music education pilot initiative designed to accelerate the adoption of Modern Band music programs in New York City public schools. Founded by Berklee College of Music, Little Kids Rock, and the New York City Department of Education, Amp Up NYC provides teacher training, classroom instruction, interactive online technology, and instrument donation that help schools establish contemporary music programs.

Guest Post: Feb 2015 City Music Caf Show

This post is by guest blogger J. Curtis Warner, Jr., Associate Vice President of Education Outreach at Berklee College of Music.

On Friday, February 20th, we were treated to a stellar performance at the Berklee College of Music Dining Hall by an ensemble made up of Berklee City Music alumni representing Network partners from at least four different cities including Boston, Philadelphia, Richmond, CA, and New Orleans. The group “Turn the Lights On,” led by vocalist/percussionist Henry Oyekanmi (East Bay Performing Arts Center) and vocalist Langston Theard (Tipitina’s Foundation), gave a stellar depiction of what happens when cutting edge contemporary arrangements are blended with old school flavor and a penchant for “keeping things real.”

Customarily noted as “Caf Shows,” these performances are often organized by the students and take place in the college cafeteria without cost to its audience. It is not surprising to hear bands of a very high caliber, and that’s exactly what we experienced last week. The Berklee City Music Network alumni band could have easily opened for a major act at TD Garden, the Staples Center, or the Wells Fargo Center, and I for one would have paid a decent ticket price to see them – main or opening act.

If I dare to categorize the music, I would say: neo-soul infused with funk, a taste of Middle Eastern Phrygian-olydian, jazz-a-matazz hip pop, and some slammin’ R&B vocals atop a technotronic bed. There was a balanced roster of both cover tunes and some headed-to-the-top originals. Along with Henry and Langston were City Music students Darryl Staves on drums, John Dandan on keys, Macston Maccow on “tracks,” and Yesseh Furaha Ali on sax. The group was further complimented by Berklee students Justin Perkins on bass, Willie Moore III on guitar, and Matthew Sallee, Melaner Quiroz, and Alexis Shae on background vocals. An opening ensemble made up of a number of City Music Boston students was chosen by audition and definitely established itself as an “act to follow!”

Throughout the performance, both Henry and Langston repeatedly gave shout-outs to Berklee City Music making such statements as, “… they [City Music] are the reason I’m here [at Berklee] and “they’ve made me who I am.”

If you know any of these young musicians mentioned above, commend them, because they carried the City Music banner proud and high, and are clearly demonstrating the value of a Berklee education… and they are not even out yet!

Tips from a Successful Mentoring Program Coordinator

We recently sat down with Jordan Summers, the Music Mentoring and Youth Development Coordinator for Berklee City Music Boston, to get some tips on how to foster successful mentor/mentee relationships in a program that consists of about 80 participants in the Boston area.  Mentors are Berklee students and mentees consist of local middle school and high school-aged youth from underserved areas that have auditioned for City Music programs. The program provides mentees with 3.5 hours of instruction per week that includes a one-on-one music coaching, theory class, and ensemble rehearsal.

City Music Mentoring Program Collage
City Music Mentoring Program

 

Jordan broke down her keys for program success into the “3 R’s”: Research, Recruit, Relationship

Research

Jordan frequently uses free online tools to enhance Mentorship programming. There are several non-profit organizations that provide guidance for mentor programs in the form of networking, helpful information, and organizational tools.  She said that she regularly checks for new resources like handbooks, activity ideas, and training information from the websites of the following established national mentoring organizations:

  • http://www.mentoring.org: Mentoring program that develops quality resources to advance mentoring program effectiveness and innovation, while sharing knowledge among mentoring programs, and works to drive increased investment to sustain and grow mentoring programs nationwide.
  • http://www.massmentors.org: Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP) helps to fuel the movement to expand empowering youth-adult relationships to meet the needs of communities across Massachusetts.
  • http://www.nationalmentoringmonth.org:  Focuses national attention on the need for mentors, and how businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits can work together to increase the number of mentors to assure positive outcomes for young people.

Recruit

“Always be looking for mentors!” Jordan advises. Because City Music mentors are usually full-time Berklee College of Music students, Jordan is sure to have a “back up for the back up”.  She sources her mentors from general interest meetings that she advertises through the college, referrals from Berklee faculty and staff, a recruiting table that she sets-up at college events, and through informational materials she places around campus.  Jordan also leverages the program’s many success stories to encourage students to sign-up.

Show Value:  Jordan knows that Berklee students are more likely to sign-up as mentors if she can show them the value of being a mentor goes beyond spending time with a kid in need of music instruction and someone to hang out with after school.  Jordan said that her mentors oftentimes tell her that they have become more aware of their own learning style through the applied teaching of their mentee.  Following graduation from Berklee, several of her City Music mentors have requested and received recommendation letters and connections with industry professionals throughout the Berklee City Music National Network.

Relationship

For the mentor’s first contact with their mentee, Jordan provides them with a “first call” template/script to make communication effective and easy.  She also put together a handbook for mentors that contains best practices and acts as a trouble-shooting guide to get the relationship off to a great start.

Jordan plans at least one non-music activity per month and told us that “pizza always works!”  She highlighted the importance of taking the mentors and mentees out of the context of a demanding learning environment.

Jordan left us with her favorite quote to share with new mentors/mentees, “In learning, you will teach and in teaching, you will learn.”

Click here for more information on the City Music Mentoring Program.

49th Network Member – Dixon Hall Music School

Dixon Hall Music in Toronto, Canada is the 49th Berklee City Music Network member.  Dixon Hall Music School provides low-cost private lessons on 15 different instruments, group and ensemble classes, seasonal music camps, and affordable instrument rentals for over 300 students ages 3-19 in the surrounding community of Regent Park, Moss Park, and St. Lawrence Neighborhoods in Toronto.  In operation since 1978, the school has a dedicated facility in the heart of the Garden District and has a robust community standing, providing students ample performance opportunities and exposure to local arts performances through a free concert ticket program.

Be sure to check out their website to learn more: http://www.dixonhall.org/our-services/music-school

Welcome The Motivational Edge to The Berklee City Music Network

Please join us in welcoming the 48th site the Berklee City Music Network, The Motivational Edge in Miami, Florida.  The Motivational Edge utilizes culturally relevant arts as a motivational platform to inspire youth towards academic achievement, increased self-confidence and the building of essential life skills.  Their programs include art, dance, literacy, homework assistance and music.  Within the music program they offer a DJ program, music production, and private instrument instruction.  Click here to learn more about their music programs.

Checkout out their SoundCloud playlist below to hear their students’ work.

2014 BCMN Conference Highlights

City Music Network Students performing at Youth Power-Up Day
City Music Network Students performing at Youth Power-Up Day in Los Angeles, California. Photo credit: Amy Bojanowski

Over 200 Network members, music educators, and arts advocates came together in Los Angeles to discuss “Innovations in Youth Development,” the theme of this year’s Berklee City Music Network Conference.

The conference kicked off on November 2 with “Youth Power-Up Day,” a free outdoor festival at Grand Performances, that featured performances by youth ensembles from around the country, a community drum circle hosted by Remo, and a jam session led by Kevin Eubanks.

Attendees moved indoors to the nearby Omni Hotel for the next three days full of inspiring presentations, panel discussions, and interactive activities. BCMN Conference veteran Libby Chiu started each day with a networking workshop that featured special guests such as Jonathan Zeichner (APCH), Andy Davis, and youth ambassadors from A Place Called Home.

Two of the more popular sessions were a panel discussion led by Berklee faculty member Terri Lyne Carrington with Sheila E, Patrice Rushen, Lalah Hathaway, and Donald Harrison about working with young musicians
; and Ron Weisner’s all-star panel discussion about the music industry featuring Bill Withers, Gladys Knight, Bobby Colomby, Tommy LiPuma, Ray Chew, and Ricky Minor.

The conference also featured a master class at the Grammy Museum; presentation by Network members such as Mike Anderson, Joey Arreguin, Gordon Cobb, Kevan Ellis, Greg Holt, Thomas Howard, Mark Kohler, Bethany Paulsen, Milton Ruffin, Ed Sublett, Frank Van Bree, and Cliff Weeks; plus a visit by the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus.

With so many thought-provoking sessions, attendees left Los Angeles feeling inspired to further their work with young musicians.

The John Lennon Education Tour Bus in Boston

Earlier this fall, the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus made a stop in Boston to work with City Music students. In a single day, the students found the chemistry to write and record an original song, plan the project from start to finish, and conclude with a video shoot. Below is the final production of their original song and City Music College Scholar Yanina Johnson’s reflection of the experience in her own words. Yanina explains how her time on the bus helped her find the confidence to write a song, how to lean on the support offered by her peers, and to trust in her own voice.

When we first walked on to the bus we were in shock. We sat down and were greeted by the wonderful staff. We introduced ourselves by saying our names and spiritual animals (mine was a sloth). The staff only included three guys who did the recording, the music video, and engineering. They were supportive and willing to work with us through everything. They were excited and enthusiastic about any style of music we wanted to play.

I never imagined myself writing music. I never had the confidence to write how I feel and share a part of myself with other people. Coming on this bus, I didn’t expect to be needed as much as I was. It felt good knowing that people were depending on me to write lyrics and sing. It was a new type of feeling and pressure that I have never faced before. I felt challenged but I was not alone. Everyone on the bus had my back. It was a beautiful feeling to share and write music with other talented musicians.

I remember being in the booth, I thought I sounded terrible with every note I sang. Each time they would convince me that it was a good take, helping me every step of the way. The energy was always high, never turned down. I could tell that they had a passion for music and I felt privileged to have the opportunity to work with everyone one the bus.

I loved how every moment was enjoyable. We got work done while having fun at the same time, which can sometimes be really hard to do. I feel that sometimes people get caught up in this idea of being the best at what they do, like having the best runs and tone, or the best chops on drums. Somewhere along the line, they lose themselves and forget what music is all about. We had the chance to do what we love without having to sound perfect. Just showing our love for music was enough to make a killing song. I am happy that it was a judgment free zone. I felt comfortable to write and sing freely. Lastly I enjoyed myself on the bus, thank you so much for the opportunity!

City Music Scholar featured on NBC’S The Voice

The Voice - Season 7

Brittany Butler is a r&b/jazz/pop singer-songwriter/musician. At the age of nine she met and sang with the pianist for Saturday Night Live, a Berklee alum. At his suggestion, she auditioned for Berklee City Music and received a scholarship at age 11. Brittany even toured with the City Music Rock Ensemble through four cities. Most recently, Brittany was a contestant on NBC’S The Voice. Her blind audition got both Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams to turn their chairs, and she ultimately chose to join Pharrel’s team. While on the show, Brittany received a coaching session with Alicia Keys.

Berklee City Music reached out to Brittany and asked her to discuss her experience both with City Music and The Voice:

When did you first get involved with Berklee City Music?

I first got involved with City Music when I was about 11 years old. I went through the mentoring program, the high school academy, and was eventually awarded a full tuition scholarship to the college through City Music. I first found out about the program at age 9 by Tuffus Zimbabwe, a Berklee and City Music alum that I met when he was performing with a trio at the Hyde Park Library. I remember I couldn’t wait to be old enough to audition!

What about City Music has been most effective in your music training?

I think the ensembles, and theory classes have been most effective in my music training! The ensembles helped me to become so much more comfortable performing with a band. And, I was able to apply what I learned in my theory classes to the work we were doing during rehearsals. It made it so much easier to follow along with lead sheets and whatnot and figure out melodies instead of just sitting there kind of unsure of myself.

How has your experience with Berklee helped prepare you for The Voice?

My experience with Berklee has been completely invaluable. I’ve been involved with Berklee now for half of my life, and it’s helped to shape me into the performer and artist I am today. I consider myself to be a much more knowledgeable vocalist and musician today, which I think made my time on The Voice a lot smoother and more enjoyable. I learned a great deal of vocal technique through Berklee/City Music, I ended up not being as worried about the technical aspects of my performances as I thought I would be. Because of that, I felt like I was able to enjoy the moment better!

The work I did in ensemble classes helped so much, because I got to work with The Voice band, who’s members are some of the most incredible musicians in the business. The Drummer actually happened to be a Berklee alum! So, that was cool! Like, I mentioned before, those ensembles really helped me feel more confident during band rehearsals for the show. I was able to communicate my ideas clearly with the band, and I just think it helped everything to jell better overall!

Learn more about Brittany on her website, keep up with her on Facebook, or check out her newest videos on her YouTube Channel.