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LAS VEGAS — Our Notes For Notes Program Director Pete Sullivan blogs the happenings of the Las Vegas Studio and the impact it has on our talented youth!

NFN Vegas Flyer

 

NFN 02.19.21

February 19, 2021

Introduction

So it seems that 2021 has been just as eventful as 2020 was and probably not in a good way.  I have been seeing a whole lot of trouble all over the country as far as freezing cold temperatures and people without power across the country in cities with other Notes for Notes personnel as well and it makes me wish I could help out more.  It also makes me thankful that I am in a place that didn't get hit with much bad weather (knocks on wood).  However, we won’t let that stop us from achieving our goal of making awesome music here in the Las Vegas Studio.

Artist Visit

We officially had our first artist visit ever here in Vegas and I was so happy to welcome  Ricky Collins or @StarBound612 to come and speak to a few of our kids here at the club.  He is the CEO of Packed House Live which is a performance venue that is available to rent for different events but he also is a producer and a hip hop artist with over 20+ tracks to his credit.  The youth here enjoyed his point of view and his stories about how he motivates himself and keeps pushing himself to get better and I hope that they take that and use it in their future music and personal endeavors.  

Going Forward

Yes, we are still doing lessons every week and I am continuing to see all of the youth I work with grow musically and emotionally.  I am hoping to put together a few feature videos to showcase what the kids here at the club have been learning.  I am also working on reaching out to other clubs in the Las Vegas area in hopes of gathering some more talented youth that I know we have all-around in the different Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada.  Get excited because a lot of good content is on the way!

NFN 01.28.21January 28, 2021

Introduction

What a ride so far for 2021 huh?  This was supposed to be a way better year than 2020 was but so far it seems to be more of the same.  I was under the impression that the youth might be returning to their respective schools in person for the spring semester but it looks like that is definitely not going to happen.  However, that gives me a chance to have them come into the studio at any time of the day they aren’t in school.  They always seem so excited to come into the studio because it does provide a break from their everyday programming and all that time spent in front of a computer screen with other students in their classes.  Like I’ve said in previous blogs I do enjoy being the escape from the monotony of everyday life at the club.

Instrument Lessons

There is nothing quite like watching a young person’s mind expand and grow right in front of your eyes.  I have seen some of the youth go from playing just one song on the guitar or drums to being able to play a library of songs with me.  I even have some youth branching out and wanting to play multiple instruments.  We have even had mini-concerts in some sessions with all of the music being played by the youth in the studio.  I hope to capture some of these concerts on video soon and find a cool place to upload them to.

Branching Out

I have had some other ideas outside of music for the youth to experience at the club as well.  Things such as sound design and recording sound effects for video games and movies that I think some of the youth will really enjoy.  I have also been looking into building small instruments that the youth could in turn play and record themselves.  I especially think the younger youth would have a really good time creating a small drum or some sort of small instrument that they could play.  Doing this would allow me to interact with a whole new group of kids that maybe weren’t interested in coming into the studio at all and can hopefully get them interested in music going forward.

NFN 12.04.20 1December 4th, 2020

Introduction

Welcome to the Las Vegas Studio blog for December 2020!  I don’t know about you but I am glad to see 2020 coming to an end with aspirations that 2021 will be as good as 2020 was bad as far as world events go.  I do have to say I am impressed with how well all of the kids at Reynold's club have dealt with the pandemic with such maturity and empathy.

Music Making

I am happy to announce that we have finished recording the first song to be released out of this studio and after a few tweaks it will be ready to be heard by everyone.  It features several of our teens at the club as well as some of the younger kids who were so gracious to lend us their voice talents for the song as well.  I am very proud of the kids and how they all contributed to make this song as great as it is with hopefully a lot more to come as we continue to grow and get better as musicians.

NFN 12.04.20 2

Lessons

Lessons are still going well for all of the youth involved, we have even added a few more kids to the roster that have told me they are interested in learning.  To see the looks on their faces as they are able to play a song they know is one of the best feelings in the world.  I hope that soon we are able to collaborate the youth together to play a recital or concert for the parents and everyone else involved.  Whether that be over a zoom call or just making a music video to post on a social media platform I haven't decided yet but I know that it will be coming soon and I can’t wait to share the results with everyone.

NFN 11.20.20 1

November 20th, 2020

Reflection

What a year 2020 has been and we still have about a month and a half to go.  Staring at the possibility of another shutdown across the country I can’t imagine what it is like being a child during all of this.  I am impressed with the ability of the youth in the club to be so mature about all the events that are happening right now.  I can see that they are getting frustrated and fed up with constantly having to have their classes online without any physical interaction with any other students and teachers in any of their classes.  That’s why I think Notes for Notes is so important; it gives the kids a chance at escaping at least for a while to do something that makes them happy and can forget the virus for a while.

NFN 11.20.20 2

Progress

We have been working on a new song for a few weeks now and it has been fun to see the youth I’m working with experience what a music production project is like for the first time.  They have gone from freezing in front of a microphone to memorizing and reciting lyrics that they have written with a little help from myself and other youth.  I hope to finish up the recording this week and hopefully have the track ready before the christmas break because it will be a nice present to show our sponsors the types of things that we can make in the studio they so generously provided for us.  We have also been continuing with lessons in guitar, piano, and drums and I see my students getting better every week.  I am anticipating a concert showcasing their musical talents in the near future.

 

NFN 10.22.20

October 22nd, 2020

As we move forward in this crazy year that is 2020 we should all be reminded that the future of our society lies with the children that we have brought onto this earth.  I have spent a good amount of my time around classrooms as my mother has been a elementary and middle school teacher for over 20 years now.  I have been around numerous groups of children of all ages and lifestyles and I have to say the group of kids that I have here at Donald W. Reynolds’ club is a special group.  I feel very fortunate to be able to work with this awesome group of kids everyday.

The Schedule

After a few weeks of experimentation and implementation of different ideas I have finally developed a schedule that gives all the youth that come into the club a chance to participate in the different programming that I am able to do in the studio.  Everything from guitar lessons to music production and even podcasting is available to the youth.  With the help of the staff here and the parents I have created an easy way for all the youth to be able to sign up for any activity/ programming that they so desire.

Guitar lessons have easily been the most popular attraction that the youth want to sign up for as well as drum lessons that are taught by myself and another staff member at the club Karron who is definitely more of a drum expert than I could ever hope to be.  One thing I did not see coming was how popular the karaoke slots on Friday would be and how many kids want to sign up to sing.  It definitely takes the good vibes into the weekend for everyone involved.

Going Forward

This studio is as awesome as it is with thanks to a few different people and organizations, first off I would like to thank Mr. Brendon Urie from Panic at the Disco and the High Hopes Foundation for their contributions to the studio and also State Farm for their donations and help.  So we are working on a song now to showcase what the studio is capable of doing; I am happy to have some talented youth in the studio with me that are currently working on lyrics for a musical composition that we have come up with in our short time working here in the studio.  I am hoping to be able to release said song in the near future to show Mr. Urie and State Farm just how talented the youth in Las Vegas and around the country are so stay tuned for that!  Thank you again for reading the Vegas blog and keeping up with our studio here in the Boys and Girls Club I hope that some of you get the chance to come in and really experience what we are all about here.

 

NFN 10.08.20

October 8th, 2020

The Long Time Coming Blog

It’s hard to put into words all the emotion and anticipation that had been going through my head the past few months.  Sitting around in quarantine just waiting on the phone call that you can finally start working is excruciating.  Finally that day came on June 1st, however it was only in digital fashion.  I still wasn’t able to get into my studio space; a beautiful space that I had only seen once but knew it so well in my mind because it was everything I was hoping for.  Finally after 2 months of waiting and a negative virus test I was admitted.  

Studio Life

Since being able to come to the club my relationship with the youth here has grown by leaps and bounds.  Teens who knew nothing about music and music production can now help create musical compositions and play classic rock hits on the drums and piano with me.  It’s been amazing to watch how easily it has been for them to pick up and learn these instruments so quickly.  It’s also been amazing how quick the youth are to open up to me and share their problems no matter how small and inconsequential I think they may be; I listen and that’s important to them because maybe I am the only one who does so.  I have also been able to provide an escape for them from their digital lives that have now become a large part of their day because they are not able to physically go to their respective schools yet.  I hear quotes like “This is the best part of the day” and that makes my day.  So far we have accomplished such goals as creating a song for the Les Paul foundation, setting up a weekly podcast entitled Teen Talk, and creating a spooky soundtrack for the Haunted House that is going to be set up in the teen center.

Going Forward

With the ability to open up space and have more youth in the club I have since created a schedule for the studio going forward to hopefully add more structure to everything.  I have included everything from guitar lessons to music production classes to songwriting seminars for the youth.  Of course said schedule is always subject to change depending on the interest level of the youth and the numbers I get to come to each session.  I look forward to sharing some of the cool stuff that we get into on this blog.  Hopefully we can soon turn Vegas into a hotspot for music development in our youth for years to come.

For many of us, this is the only safe place we have to go after school.