How do you give the rising upperclassmen ownership?
One way is to begin encouraging kids to sign-up for the "Young Life Band."
If only one leader played guitar at club this year, consider "expanding" the band next year. Odds are you probably won't have that one kid who is capable of leading club music on their own, so a leader will likely still need to be "leading," but its invaluable to surround the music leader with some students with instruments.
This is MORE WORK than doing it on your own. The cost up front is much greater. It takes more time and more prep, but the return on the investment is worth it.
The first year we did it was rocky at best. BUT THIS YEAR WAS AMAZING! I've led club music for 15 years and this year I finally got a break. We had a consistent band of 4-6 kids that did an incredible job leading music without an adult leader even on stage. And now, some of those high schoolers are graduating and will be able to lead club music next year if they become leaders in college.
Sign Up NOW
Get any kids who are interested in being in the band next year to go ahead and sign up over the last few weeks of the school year. This should be an active ask, not a passive announcement. Pursue any kids you know that have musical interest. Gather them all together towards the end of the school year, before summer starts. ANYONE who is interested. Find out who plays what instrument, who sings, who wants to learn an instrument, etc...The summer is a great time to learn.
Ideally, you would find 2 guitar players, 1 or 2 bass players, 1-2 drummers, and 2-3 vocalists. This is ideal, but just get as many as you can. If you have tons of kids who are interested, figure out who your best musicians are and if possible, divide them to create two different bands. That way they can alternate weeks, allowing more kids to be involved and giving kids a break to just be in 'the audience' on the off weeks.
The Dream Band
Depending upon the size of your club, your dream band could be just 2 people. Get one high schooler to play guitar and another to hit a metal trash can lid with a spoon. If you have a bigger club, your dream band could be up to 7 people (and if you have 7 people in your band, thats a pretty good start on getting a critical mass to club each week!).
- An adult leader as the song leader
- A vocalist of the opposite sex as the song leader
- Acoustic guitar
- Electric guitar
- Percussionist (drum set or cajon or djembe)
- A 'unique' instrument (mandolin, ukulele, banjo, harmonica, etc.)
The mandolin and ukulele are both hot right now. You can get a ukulele for $50 and a kid could learn to play it this summer. Its easy and fun and everyone loves Jack Johnson and anything that makes them think of Hawaii. Harmonicas, banjos, heck- get the marching band guy who can rock his sax to play that one week!
Most club rooms are too small for the noise of a drum set, so a good alternative is a djembe (african drum) or a drum box/cajon (pronounced "kah-hone.") You can buy one for $99 here. It has a great snare and bass sound. Rhythm is key, don't just let anyone keep your beats.
Here's the key. After the band has formed, you need to appoint a leader. One student needs to be responsible for communicating with the other band members and making sure they will be there and know what they are playing. You communicate with your band leader and they communicate with the band members. They can make chord sheets for you, put song lyrics into the PowerPoint slides and help pick out new songs that would be good to do at club. Give that ownership away! Train them up, thank them well, let them lead.
If possible, get the band together this summer to start learning songs and bonding. This will make club music much smoother come fall. Even if every kid can't make it, go ahead and schedule a weekly gathering for whoever can. It's great contact work and will payoff in September!