10 Essential Ingredients for setting up and running a Keyboard Club
1. Members and how to go about recruiting them
Having decided whether you want keyboard players who play all makes of keyboard and organ, or just a particular brand e.g. Technic's all models; the attached sample leaflet should form the basis of your thinking on what to communicate. It's design in based on the very simple principle of A.I.D.A. (awareness, interest, desire, action) and talks to potentially interested individuals about their problems and concerns, and how the club can help overcome them. (If you believe that you have the expertise to handle members owning a wide variety of manufacturers instruments and that there will be time during each evening to cover such diversity competently then by all means advertise for 'all makes' members-I personally doubt the feasibility of such a proposition). How to communicate and where includes such options as leaflets in Information Centres and Libraries and Musical Equipment Shops; taking advantage of all the free small Ad, spaces in local newspapers and magazines; local newsworthy PR activities with newspapers and local radio; attendance at appropriate seasonal shows with a small stand.
2. Meeting Place - some ideas for cheap / free options
Local community centres may welcome some activity to help them promote their operation - and it is just that sort of quid pro quo kind of deal that should drive your thinking rather than just hiring a hall. Look around for halls that look empty most evenings - why not consider school or church halls, or even a hotel or pub with a large enough room not apparently being put to good use-remember you are bringing them potential customers.
3. Retail Dealer support-advantages and disadvantages
It is almost certain that your local musical equipment shop will be interested in fact that you are reviving interest in keyboards, and accessories and sheet music. The shop owner may even be enthusiastic enough to loan keyboards and even his/her own knowledge, expertise and time. The downside is that they will always have commercial interest in getting involved, but if you can manage that then they useful options.
4. A Simple Agenda or Programme for each meeting
This absolutely vital to give direction and energy to the group/club, so that all members know what they may expect and will react accordingly - sample agenda attached. Agree the agenda with the members and STICK to it! And that means managing the evening. A period of social activity is helpful during the evening around a pot of tea/coffee and some cakes or biscuits-it's a bonding process.
5. Official positions - someone needs to.
One of the members needs to be elected Chairperson/spokesperson and along with a Treasurer and Secretary and 2 other representatives of the members a small (non - bureaucratic) committee needs to be formed with periodic meetings held and minutes taken plus an AGM where the officials are proposed and seconded each year. As much as it grieves me to recommend all the formality you have you remember that you are handling the members money (subs) to gain benefit from attending.
6. Strategy Objectives and Philosophy
Why does the club exist; what is it trying to do, how will it go about doing it, and what principles will guide its decisions., The heartland information which will keep the club on track rather than being directionless, disorganised and time-wasting.An example:
7. Leadership skills and style
There has to be one person at least who is both the founder and enthusiastic driver of the club-who's unswerving devotion to the principles of the club acts as a catalyst for all the other members. That person must have sufficient personality to motivate all other members indeed that is that person's prime and only duty. He/She must be respected above all others including the chairperson as the inspiration for all others who attend. Many clubs fail when internal bickering and political starts to emerge. Recognise the risk of this occurring and make sure that there is always good communication and that every voice is heard and responded too. Not every idea can be taken on board immediately or ever, but all ideas can be treated with the respect they deserve even if they are misguided ideas.
8. Programme of Events-keeping interest
The committee should take time out to look beyond just the next meeting, and consider how progress and interest can be sustained in the longer term. Informed discussions one to one with individual members can throw up desires/needs and way to satisfy them. e.g. how about a progress chart for each member where they can tick off achievements made over time against their own personal objectives. Always have something special coming up for a member to look forward to, whether it is a visit from a top keyboard player to give demo and some advise, or maybe the club will plan to give a concert for some charitable cause.
9. Measuring improvement within the group
Head count attendance and signed on members is almost less important than measure of quality of the quality of the help that is being given and the results that it is achieving. What you don't measure you don't manage-measure the wrong things and you'll wrong results. So think about what your key performance indicators might be. related to what the club/group is trying to achieve in the medium to long term for it's members. Then set about enabling some form of simple measurement of those KPI's.
10. Understanding and responding to Individual members needs
Every new member comes along with a purpose- it may be quite specific or it may be broad brush- but they all want something. There will be a patterns of needs amongst the members, and sub-groups will gather together with common goals to either help one another, or be helped by an expert? If each member can go home after a meeting saying "I gained something from this evening and I expect to feel the same way after a meeting", then success will have been achieved. An individual having trouble with chord structure may in fact not be able to read music very well...etc Members should bring their keyboard with them - headphones help too in order to avoid sheer cacophony of sound, which doesn't help anyone.
Evening Meeting Structure.
7.30pm - 8pm
Setting up and general discussion over Tea and Biscuits.8pm - As req'd
1. General get together if necessary to discuss any proposals from the committee or members. i.e. Future planning of events, offers of music, books, equipment, etc.8.30pm - 9.15pm
"Professional" playing, others listening or discussing aspects of playing. Meanwhile, for the Amateurs/ Beginners, in say group pf 2/3 aspects of keyboard are discussed demonstrated with participants trying these features for themselves. At the same time another group of 2/3 can be discussing playing/practice techniques, learning better rhythms and/or new instrumentation of existing rhythms/melodies. Others may be talking over particular problems, or how they use the technology of their keyboard to help them. Obviously groups can change at will and from meeting to meeting and suggest that the players are at one end of the hall, and groups at the other.9.15pm - on
One, or more of the better players play to the rest and/or talk about their experience, i.e: their type of music, Gigs etc. This proposal, or similar, leads us back to original aims and intentions of our club, and I feel answers the criticisms of some members and ex members.