Marlin D. and Ryan G. are bonded together by many things. First and foremost they are cousins, so they share a family tie. Coming in at a strong second is their passion for music and digital music making that they get to do every day at their local Boys & Girls Club. And lastly, is an entrepreneurial savvy and desire to help others through the positive influence of music.
Marlin: Piano ManMarlin, age 16, first got involved with the Boys & Girls Club when he was 7 years old. His mom was looking to sign him up for a good, stable after-school program that offered a variety of activities and she chose Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket. Ryan got involved with the Club’s music program when he was only 8 and quickly became known as the “piano man.”
He still remembers the summer when he found out the Club was getting a recording studio with all new technology including MIDI keyboards, professional recording software and professional microphones. Marlin did not know how to use any of the new technology, but slowly he learned through his music director and other Club members.
“Club Tech brought a whole new outlook to the music program and I’ve been able to use technology that many people only have the opportunity to use in professional studios,” he says. “Everyday I learn something new at the Club and I have Club Tech to thank for expanding my music knowledge.”
When he graduates high school, Marlin wants to become a music producer and a lawyer. Without Club Tech, this dream may not exist since it’s with the technology program that Marlin’s learned how to create beats and develop many skills he needs to get a head start on his career path.
Ryan: Music Is My LifeRyan, also 16, has been attending Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket for five years. When he was 11, he moved to Pawtucket and since many of his cousins already attended the Club, it was a natural place for Ryan to spend his time after school.
Ryan jumped right into the music program as soon as he started at the Club. There he learned to play guitar, piano, drums and trumpet. He also has learned how to write and record his own beats and songs through the program. Ryan currently attends JMW School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
“Music is my life and between school and the Boys & Girls Club, I’m around music all the time. I come back to the Club each day because of the many opportunities offered and all the great kids and staff I get to interact with,” he says. “Without Club Tech, I wouldn’t be in a performing arts school and would not be heading in the direction I am for college.”
Ryan attributes the Club Tech and music program to his music development and says without that experience and exposure; he would not have had the opportunity to develop musically. Now that his passion shines through in his music and he’s had experience using professional recording software, Ryan feels confident that he will do well in his future, especially if he decides to go to college for music.
The Business: Hip Rock WorkshopLast year, a group called Youth Venture RI came to Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket and offered an opportunity for the kids to develop a business venture. The winner would have a chance to earn up to a $1,000 grant. Marlin and Ryan immediately decided they wanted to start a business that would showcase their passion and talent for music. They also wanted to help other youth in their community who may not have access to music lessons or a professional recording studio and software. Consequently, “Hip Rock Workshop” was born. The Hip Rock Workshop aims to educate youth in the area about music, both through music instrument lessons and teaching digital recording software.
Marlin and Ryan presented their concept and were granted the full $1,000 by Youth Venture to start their business. They also presented their music business plan at the national SEEED (Social Enterprise Ecosystems as Economic Development) Conference at Brown University.
“We wanted to offer affordable music lessons to children who don’t have sufficient music programs around them,” says Ryan. “We feel it’s very important for the youth in our community to have access to music because of the positive effect music can have and we believe it really can change a community for the better.”
“It’s important to help youth in our community gain access to music and digital technology because it gives kids a chance to feel something positive in their life,” adds Marlin. “Learning how to make music and use professional music software gives kids something to be proud of and that’s what we wanted to accomplish through our business.”
Marlin and Ryan are in the process of recruiting students and collecting equipment for the Hip Rock Workshop. They are very hopeful that their business will take off and achieve their goal of giving back to the community through music.
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