Varsity Strings is a music service program we’ve created in San Diego, California. We love playing music, and it works really well!
Start Your Own Varsity Strings Program! It's Easy!
1. Play fun, upbeat music at retirement homes, community centers, hospitals, elementary schools or after-school programs. Talk to your audience during the performance, tell them about the songs and why you like to play them. Our Varsity Strings program has been invited back over and over to any place we’ve played at, these people really need us! You can make this a regular event, once a week or twice a month.
2. Play in a group at charity events. Do a variety-style show of solo and combined performances. Especially children’s charities often need music for their events or benefit dinners. We have been overcome with requests for these types of performances, we can’t keep up with them!
3. Produce a Varsity Strings music CD that can be sold at your events to benefit a charity.
4. Hold concerts to raise money for a specific target charity in your area. Christmas or Holiday shows do well. Sell inexpensive tickets. Serve food, drinks or snacks at these events to bring in revenue. Ask a performance space/theater to donate it for your performance. Invite benefited children or organizers of the charity to the concert for free, have them talk to the audience before the show. If you can’t find a worthy charity, donate to a hospital; hospitals never have enough money.
5. Get more of your school’s best musicians to join! They’re often the most talented and focused students in the school, and full of enthusiasm, talk them into it!
6. Ask local businesses to sponsor your Varsity Strings group with “matching funds” – for every dollar you make, they will donate a dollar as well to your target charity. They donate this directly to the charity for a tax write-off, and you can cap the contributions at a certain amount so they know how much is the maximum they’ll be paying. Take pictures of you handing over the check to the charity. Add the matching funds business website to your blog as a link to promote them.
7. Teach how to play your instrument to underprivileged children in your city. There are often programs that already do this, ask them if you can volunteer. We do this twice a month, and once a week in the summer.
8. Put your performances on YouTube with contact information about how charities can reach you to perform for them.
9. Ask a famous musician who lives in your area to perform at one of your events. They can turn you down - or turn up at your event!
10. Do impromptu community concerts in busy areas of your city, as “buskers” or street performers. Do this in front of a charity’s location to popularize and promote them. Hand out flyers for the charity. Ask local media/news programs to film you.
11. Keep track of all your service hours as a computer file which shows the date, who played, and for how long. That way, individual players can refer to it when submitting their community service hours. These can all be either groups of musicians or individual ones - we find that guitars, violins, cellos, piano and keyboards, and of course singers work best.
12. Create a blog about your Varsity Strings club. Update it with photos and YouTube videos of your playing. List your next events. Link it to your charity's website. We use musicians from all over our city, not just from our own school, and it’s great working with other students and keeping in touch on our blog - we’ve been invited to their events as well.
And – if you do a Varsity Strings-style event, we’ll publish it on our blog. Just send us the YouTube link or photos. We want to hear all about it!
Go DO it!