In addition to shooting hoops, painting pictures and tinkering with computers, young people learn to beat the traps, lick the ax, tickle the ivories and cut, mix and master records at the Ira Samelson Jr. Boys & Girls Club.
The Notes for Notes recording studio at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis branch at 894 Isabelle is one of 14 such studios in 12 cities nationwide. Notes for Notes, a nonprofit organization, designs, equips and staffs after-school recording studios at Boys & Girls Clubs locations. The studios, which young people can use for free, include drums, guitars and keyboards as well as DJ gear, musical workstations and full recording facilities. They also can learn about careers on stage and behind the scenes.
“We have so many different things to offer for the youth of the center and those who are not just members of the center,” said Memphis Notes for Notes program director Chris Franceschi, 29. “Any kids in the city. We have drum lessons. We have piano lessons. Music production and engineering. Songwriting. Guitar lessons. Podcasting. Pretty much everything you can imagine.”
Children as well as teenagers can take part, Franceschi said. “We want to make it attractive for the teen population in the city, but there’s no age limit at all. If they can hold some drumsticks and they can sit in a class and learn, then we want them.”
About 60 people take part in the program at Ira Samelson; it began a little over two months ago. So far, nobody has dropped out, Franceschi said. “They see this as something they can actually do,” he said. “They’re exploring careers in the music industry or being a radio personality and things of that nature. Marketing managers. All kinds of things.”
The young music lovers are progressing very well, said volunteer coordinator/music production and film scoring instructor Nigel Johnson. “You see that light bulb go on,” he said. “You can see that growth in them. They’re just excited to be here.”
Diamond Pitchford, 12, is exploring songwriting.
“What I like about Notes for Notes is I can come in every day and be confident to go in a booth and sing what I wrote,” Diamond said. “And what I also like about Note for Notes is that I can play the guitar, too, which helps me write songs when I think of a song.”
An aspiring producer, Miracle Diggs,15, loves the program; she produced 13 tracks in one month. “It gives me my time to express myself and make music and beats and help other people make their music that they love,” she said.
A native Memphian, Franceschi also is a producer and a rapper. “Growing up, we never had the opportunity to actually have hands-on experience with equipment and instruction,” he said. “The resources weren’t there. When I was younger, I was trying to fight my way into the studio, and they were like, ‘Kid, get out of here!’
“What excites me most is you get kids that probably would never have the opportunity to be hands on with real live professional equipment. Being in a studio. Teaching them how to be professional artists. Teaching them what to expect. Teaching them the business. And teaching them the fundamentals of being successful in life.”
Asked why Memphis was chosen as a Notes for Notes location, CEO/co-founder Philip Gilley said, “Why not Memphis? I’m surprised it took us this long to get the city that has birthed so much rock and roll, blues, R&B and more. We want to expand Notes for Notes to cities that have a rich musical history, thriving music scene and the need. Positive places for young people to go to explore music.”
Gilley got the idea for Notes for Notes while mentoring a young man at a Boys and Girls Clubs in Santa Barbara, California. His “Little,” as they call those they mentor, wanted to learn to play drums, but he didn’t have access to a drum set. So he and Gilley began making regular visits to a music store to practice on the demo drum set. Gilley realized starting a nonprofit to give young people access to musical instruments was a good idea, so he formed Notes for Notes with Natalie Noone, daughter of Herman’s Hermits singer Peter Noone.
“Music is everywhere,” Gilley said. “You can’t escape it, and so many young people may not have realized they have an interest and/or aptitude to explore creating it. We want young people to know that music is not some unattainable desire they may have. It may already be inside them. They just may need the tools, instruments and guidance to explore it further.”
Gilley recalled “the journey of one young guitar player.” The young man walked in the studio and was “withdrawn and didn’t gravitate towards anything.”
He began teaching the young man to play guitar. “He started to become a pretty decent player, but, most importantly, he started to develop an identity around being a guitar player. He started to dress in V-necks and spike his hair. He had latched on to an instrument and an identity. His personality began to emerge, and his mother and the staff at the Boys and Girls Club were noticing. He’s since gone on to perform at a number of our benefit concerts with Joe Bonamassa and Steve Miller. He has been collecting signatures on his guitar of artists who have cruised through the studio, which now boasts artists ranging from Slash to Jack Johnson to the Black Keys.”
Gilley remembered what the mother of that Notes for Notes success story told him. “His mother had expressed to me that before he picked up guitar in the studio, he’d never latched on to anything to call his own.”
Read the original article here: http://www.commercialappeal.com/story/entertainment/music/2016/10/22/notes-notes-studio-invites-kids-explore-music/92419422/