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Girls Rock Detroit: Obliterating Gender Biases In the Music Industry written by Nia Shumake

By Nia Shumake


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“Unlike a man [a woman] is never simply and gloriously a musician. She is a ‘female guitar player’ or ‘a female drummer’. Her gender precedes her” —-”Anonymous

     Gender Biases in the music industry has been prominent since the very beginning of time and in the last decade though the workplace has become heavily infiltrated in the business sector of the industry, female artists/musicians still struggle to earn the respect of their male counterparts. In 2015, Fusion found that performances by women only, contributed to only 26% of Billboard’s Top 40 and only 10% of the acts on the music festival circuit. According to the Women Audio Mission, only 5 % of people working in music production are women. Here at Notes for Notes we are intentional about providing opportunities to the demographic of our youth at the SAY PLAY Detroit center. We have an overwhelming group of young women who frequent the studio with interests in the music that range from voice, songwriting, production and learning to play instruments.

“We have an overwhelming group of young women who frequent the studio with interests in the music that range from voice, songwriting, production and learning to play instruments”


When Michigan-based musician, Melissa Coppola approached the Notes for Notes Detroit Staff with her vision to have our studio host her project Girls Rock Detroit, we knew it was what the music community needed and coincided with the values of our non profit. The summer camp is an accelerated course in creating music for girls from age 8 to 16. We hosted the musicians for the week of August 21st , and at 9:30 am each day, the youth worked writing and taking music courses in their respective room rotation/ band until 4:30 pm. The Board of Directors were anal about having women represented thus all classes were taught by women and each classroom was labeled with a popular female musician/producer. The sound of the young rock stars permeated the entire building as we heard a combination of drums clashing in one room and writers writing to chords in another.

     “The sound of the young rock stars permeated the entire building as we heard a combination of drums clashing in one room and writers writing to chords in another”

 By the end of the camp, the bands held a showcase concert for family and friends. Nonetheless, the impact that the camp had on the young musicians was phenomenal and challenged me to question the way in which many people often view artists. Often times when people see a woman who is into music they’ll assume that you are solely just a vocalist or a songwriter, when there are endless possibilities and plenty of gifted musicians that happen to women creating. It is our hope that this camp has inspired girls to consider creating music as a valid career choice. At N4N Detroit studio, we place emphasis on both representation and intersectionality. Furthermore we want our youth to feel empowered as though they have a right to be taken seriously pursuing music professionally both as female and at our studio POC. Hopefully this will challenge us to call our girls up higher and encourage them to do whatever they put their minds to accomplishing musically.

     “Hopefully this will challenge us to call our girls up higher and encourage them to do whatever they put their minds to accomplishing musically”

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Summer Song Series: A Review

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By Nia Shumake

     Light and love had illuminated Hard Rock Cafe, the night of Motown Mix. I was in awe of what had been accomplished by the youth over a couple of months–rewriting world renowned bops is not an easy task, and our youth handled this with grace making each song listenable and unique to a modern day Detroit experience. It was bittersweet, I being both overjoyed for the success of the showcase but also melancholy about the departure of brilliant youth who I wouldn’t see until the very end of the summer. Nonetheless, it was time to move on to next project.
    After, a debrief on the showcase we had just  under three short weeks to create an execution strategy for our newest project: Summer Song Series. It would encompass bringing incredible artists together to create original material with the final product, an EP.  We were excited and began brainstorming curriculum, programming & tools for registration as a means of personality and musical aptitude assessment. Because we wanted optimum results, our registration process was only a precursor to our first day of the series. Using a combination of Myer-Briggs, The Four Temperaments, and music taste we managed to create two separate groups of artists/producers. Strangely enough, we managed to get a type a “Voyage to India” fan with 15 personality types in the same group as a kid producer who wanted to create Jay Z  “4:44” vibes and a social butterfly Taylor Bennett fan. The youth were both anxious and excited to make magic.
File_000 (1)Our first try at jamming involved adding a song to J. Cole’s Born Sinner where Childish Gambino sang the hook. Though elated, it was obvious that the youth weren’t as vulnerable with their peers. Creativity is sacred and it takes courage to share work amongst strangers – I empathized. Much to my surprise by that Wednesday, writers came ready to work on original material for their fellow singer-songwriter Maia. The song was finished by the following Monday afternoon + and they are now working on more original music.
 I am constantly impressed with the array of talented youth that we’ve encountered at and the work that has continued to come out of our studio. We are simply a microcosm of all the city has to offer. Motown Mix was incredible, and it proves the capabilities of our Detroit youth. It set the bar for our studio and we as Detroit staff work at making our performances and material better. These kids are the quintessence of talent,  diligence and potential. I am amazed by their emotional intelligence, acceptance of constructive criticism and responding to the their life experiences with their art. I am honored to be apart of their musical journeys and look forward to all of the magic that will be made towards the very end.

A Colorful Music Palette: Jam Session with Ocean Park Standoff

Ocean Park Standoff makes a visit to Notes for Notes Detroit.

By Nia Shumake

When I learned that we had an upcoming artist visit from the pop group, Ocean Park Standoff , the band comprised of Pete Nappi, Ethan Thompson and Samantha Ronson, sister of the world renowned English producer/musician Mark Ronson, I thought to myself, how will the LA based pop group with English roots relate to our youth?  Charity and I, are both adamant about representation and relatability for our youth. So for me these questions constantly cross my mind in regards to studio programming. Our studio is predominantly Black and we serve youth in the Detroit and Metro-Detroit area from different socioeconomic statuses and backgrounds. But regardless of socio-economic status/background,

young artists need to see themselves.

Nonetheless, for the Detroiter and/or Black Detroiter experiences are not all monolithic, and the proof is in the history of our music scene being the catalyst for multiple genres ranging from Motown to Electronic. Through co-managing the studio, I’ve witnessed youth who aren’t just interested in pop culture’s hip hop, but often inquire about artists like Tribe Called Quest and J Dilla while simultaneously building appreciation for classical pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto. On the other hand, we have our crew of church kids that will belt out  Tasha Cobbs’ “For Your Glory” right after singing Jay Hawkins, “I Put a Spell on You”. This is all apart of the rich history in Detroit’s music scene and its remnants happen to be left in our youth. 

Samantha, Pete and Ethan of Ocean Park Standoff

Samantha, Pete and Ethan of Ocean Park Standoff

When I read in a Paper mag article from April that  Ocean Park Standoff enjoyed the release of EPs for the sake of expressing themselves in multiple genres, I felt a sense of relief.  I had confidence that they would understand the music that our youth loved. I knew there was an opportunity for true connection.

We value the power of creativity through collaboration and are overjoyed partnering with other creatives”


Singer JoJo performing a Corinne Bailey Rae song during the Jam Session

Singer JoJo performing a Corinne Bailey Rae song during the Jam Session

Before the group’s arrival that Friday, youth artists Renita, Jojo, Shaunell and Dre were present with a repertoire of songs prepared to perform for their guests. Meanwhile, Kevin worked in the back with producer, D Slate on sampling the group’s hit single, “Good News”. At the studio, we value the power of creativity through collaboration and are overjoyed to partner with other creatives. Therefore, our CEO Phil created an incredible platform for the youth and band to share their music via jam session. The keys and mics were free for all to pick up and add to their own sound to the environment.

Lyricist Dre freestyling during the jam session

Lyricist Dre freestyling during the jam session

Towards the the end of the session, Dre freestyled to music from his peers and managed to woo the LA band with his lyricism to their sound.

“I create because I have to.”

Renita and JoJo interviewing the members of Ocean Park Standoff at the Mojo in the Morning Broadcast Station

Renita and JoJo interviewing the members of Ocean Park Standoff at the Mojo in the Morning Broadcast Station



Up next was Renita and Jojo’s podcast interview with the group, tackling a plethora of topics for artist such as remaining relevant, versatility in musical genres and those moments where you wonder if you’ll ever create your best work again. The key was to keep creating, in the words of Ethan Thompson, “ I create because I have to”, something that felt so familiar to each person in the room. When they talked about musical influences, it was to myself and the students’ surprise that Ronson’s songwriting was inspired by both the lyricism of Hip Hop legends like Nas and Jay Z but also the enigmatic folklore poet, Leonard Cohen.

Then we approached the final moment of the artist visit when Kevin presented his work to  Samantha, Pete and Ethan. It was almost as if he took the room to church with his chords and bass line and we were all impressed, asking him to play the loop over and over again. Here we had mainstream singer-songwriters, an English American DJ, vocal jazz ensemble members and church kids all in one room and in creative synergy for the love of music. The visit was not exactly what I had expected.  

The language of music is both universal AND cultural, hence why the cliche metaphor “music is a bridge” can often fail to include those cultural intricacies, but that day the phrase rang true, and I saw the power of true collaborative creativity at work.

Thank you to Ocean Park Standoff for an awesome artist visit and thank you having such a colorful music palette!

The Motown Mix Review

JoJo, Ivon and Renita performing their reworking of
Singer, Dewaun, preparing for his verse in "I Wish".

Singer, Dewaun, preparing for his verse in “I Wish”.

Eddie and De'Jah rehearsing "I Wish". Stevie Wonder's version was about wanting rewing the hands of time. Their version was about wanting to speed them up!

Eddie and De’Jah rehearsing “I Wish”. Stevie Wonder’s version was about wanting rewing the hands of time. Their version was about wanting to speed them up!

On a Friday evening hours after the studio’s regular hours had ended, I felt myself holding back tears. The participants of the Motown Mix project and I had just finished our final rehearsal and this group of teens had evolved from youth participants into members of what felt like a creative family. We had gotten into the habit of rehearsing for twice as many days a week and for twice as long in efforts to put on an amazing show at Detroit’s Hard Rock Cafe, and at the end of what was a trying but rewarding process, I remembered their auditions six months before and the goosebumps I felt on my skin when I imagined them making music in the N4N studio. This experience had truly come full circle. The 13 Motown Mix participants had learned so much about Motown, become friends, learned to respect, celebrate and collaborate with one another, and began to identify as songwriters when they thought they’d only be singing, and as producers when they thought they’d only be playing.

Youth intern Renita introducing the first act.

Youth intern Renita introducing the first act.

The following Sunday, the youth performers were anxiously humming the lyrics and melodies to Motown classics around the Hard Rock Cafe and before we knew it the room was filled to standing room only capacity with N4N staff, volunteers, and the proud family and friends of the night’s headliners. Just before the show began, Hard Rock’s speakers filled the room with the Motown Mix Playlist – songs featuring classic Motown samples the producers had worked on alongside production mentor Dennis Mars. Our drummer Destin’s eyes widened upon realizing what was playing and he proudly said, “That’s us!!”

3 out of 4 of the Motown Mix Band Josh, Destin and Kevin (left to right), Allen not pictured.

3 out of 4 of the Motown Mix Band Josh, Destin and Kevin (left to right), Allen not pictured.

The stage was soon occupied by a band fully comprised of high school students that played impeccably to the voices of the Motown Mix singers and songwriters. Together they performed their original ode to self love “Alright” then their lyrical and musical rearrangements of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” and The Jackson 5’s “Never Can Say Goodbye”.

Shaunell and Ivon who performed "Every Little Bit Hurts" by Brenda Holloway and "All I Do" by Stevie Wonder during the "Ladies of Motown Medley"

Shaunell and Ivon who performed “Every Little Bit Hurts” by Brenda Holloway and “All I Do” by Stevie Wonder during the “Ladies of Motown Medley”

After a few songs, N4N’s faithful volunteer, Motown Mix mentor and brilliant artist Olivia Millerschin performed some of her originals and a beautiful rendition of the Temptation’s “My Girl” that the crowd blissfuly sang along with her. After a passionate delivery of the “Ladies of Motown Medley” by a few of Motown Mix’s special girls, it was my turn to perform a set of my own.  In the midst of performing my originals and working a little “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder in, I was holding back tears again as I looked to my right and saw the youth artists cheering me on as I’d earlier done for them.

N4N volunteer and artist Olivia Millerschin performing a set of originals at the Motown Mix Review.

N4N volunteer and artist Olivia Millerschin performing a set of originals at the Motown Mix Review.

Detroit N4N program director Charity performing a set of originals at the Motown Mix Review.

Detroit N4N program director Charity performing a set of originals at the Motown Mix Review.

The show concluded with warm and encouraging remarks from Motown’s own Robin Terry (who gave us the initial charge to lead a collaborative project between N4N and the Motown Museum) as the youth took their final bows and received their swag bags full of classic Detroit snacks and goodies from the Motown Museum and Hard Rock Cafe.

Motown Museum's Robin Terry making final remarks.

Motown Museum’s Robin Terry making final remarks.

All Motown Mix participants receiving swag bags and taking their final bow.

All Motown Mix participants receiving swag bags and taking their final bow.

The next day, I expected the youth to take the day off to recover from their long weekend, but they all showed up  to the studio bursting with energy- recapping the day before. In that moment, I knew that the project was not only the most fulfilling and inspiring youth project I’d ever led, but a true success that had provided N4N Detroit a strong group of consistent, passionate, and talented teen artists.

Thank you to Robin Terry, Raina Baker and David Ellis with the Motown Museum, my amazing and supportive teammate Kristin Myers, our awesome partners at the S.A.Y Detroit Play CenterDetroit School of Arts, Hard Rock Cafe, The Future Project and mentors – Dennis Mars, Craig Shephard and Olivia Millerschin for all of your help in making this project and event a success!

Check out the Motown mix below!

Abbey and Detroit N4N’s First Album!

Members of  Paper Crowns after premiering their debut album. From left to right - Ashley, Joe, Ian, Abbey, Rhys & Fred

By Nia Shumake

Abbey is no ordinary teenager. 

Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist - Abbey

Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist – Abbey

She balances school and the pressures that come with applying to college with working, volunteering at the Notes for Notes, and as of recently- completing her freshman album along with her stellar band – Paper Crowns.

Abbey, the lead vocalist of Paper Crowns, completed the strenuous process of recording her project “Chasing Constellations” with her band mates Ashley, Joe, Ian, Rhys and Fred one Tuesday afternoon at the Detroit N4N studio. They all seemed both relieved and excited for the recording process to end. Abbey, in particular, had previously recorded backing tracks and scratch vocals for several weeks after volunteering in the studio teaching youth guitar lessons. It was inspiring watching her wear the two hats of being a mentor and then an artist. However, on this day, she would blossom not only as a singer-songwriter, but as a producer. Although it was obvious that Sexton was a musician, it was to our amazement that she could wear the hat of producer as well, with the advice of Rhys- her electric guitarist.

Paper Crown's CD table from the Chasing Constellations album release event.

Paper Crown’s CD table from the Chasing Constellations album release event.

Throughout the session, we spent time changing a cello’s legato to pizzicato, working on sound dynamics and taking out backing tracks that were not beneficial to the overall sound of the project. Abbey truly has the gift of thinking in sound. Yet, in all of this it was not just her musical aptitude and ability to multitask that stood out, but her willingness to create. She is like most artists- a perfectionist. Oftentimes, artists are so anxious to create a finished work, whether it be published or recorded, that tiny details or minuscule mistakes are overlooked. Her attentiveness to small details is incredible. In preparation for Paper Crowns’ album release show, she and area director Charity Ward worked after hours on multiple occasions in efforts of perfecting tracks and achieving the perfect mix.

Abbey performing her original songs at Paper Crown's album release event.

Abbey performing her original songs at Paper Crown’s album release event.

It was incredibly fulfilling listening to Paper Crowns’ finished record, knowing how hard Sexton had persevered until its completion. Our Detroit team, is honored to have played a role in the production of Sexton’s first album and especially grateful for all of the volunteer hours that Abbey has put in over the course of this past year.

We are looking forward to hearing more from Paper Crowns in the future, and excited to keep working with Abbey!

Stream “Chasing Constellations” below!

Detroit Does Grammy Camp!

Notes for Notes teens Shaunell and Renita sharing their lyrics at the end of Grammy Camp

I was overjoyed when I heard Grammy Camp was coming to Detroit for the first time.

IMG_0428After quite a rough patch, Detroit is rising again, and national organizations have recognized the resilient spirit of our city that has never and will never die. Creative forces like the Detroit Institute of Music Education have planted their feet in Detroit’s rich soil to bring a bit of the music industry back to the city and to give our young people a real shot at being apart of it. The Notes for Notes studio rests in the heart of the city with a mission to produce tomorrow’s musicians and give Detroit’s youth exposure to equipment and opportunities that they would rarely encounter for free of charge.

FullSizeRender 9My work at Notes for Notes gives me the opportunity to not solely participate in the resurgence of Detroit’s art scene by being a home-based artist, but to also empower and develop our next generation of creatives. So, finding out that the Detroit staff would be helping facilitate Detroit’s first Grammy Camp on behalf of Notes for Notes was a complete honor. After months of planning alongside the Grammy Camp staff, Grammy Camp turned out to be an inspiring day of creativity and collaboration that wouldn’t have been half as awesome  without the help of DIME who provided their amazing facility, Marie and Liana Guerra from Cloverleaf Restaurant who provided a delicious lunch and Briony Hill from Starbucks who provided drinks and desserts.

Notes for Notes teens sharing their lyrics at the end of Grammy Camp

Notes for Notes teens sharing their lyrics at the end of Grammy Camp

Songwriters brainstorming on an original track

Songwriters brainstorming on an original track

Youth producers learning to navigate ProTools

Youth producers learning to navigate ProTools

Laura Donohue flew in from Nashville to lead the singers, Greg Chin flew in from Miami to lead the production crew and our nearby neighbor, Anne Heaton, came in from Ann Arbor to lead the songwriters. After a full day of learning and working together, the youth concluded the day with a showcase performing rearrangements of popular songs, lyrics they’d began working on to the beat the producers created and original songs about quite original topics – like hunger and their love of food!

We are truly grateful for the visit Grammy Camp made to Detroit and for the valuable insight you shared with our youth!

We hope this was the first of many more!

Dennis Mars Takes Motown to Outer Space

By Nia Shumake

The Notes for Notes Detroit and Motown Museum project – Motown Mix – aims to expose young musicians to  both a nostalgic and modern approach to creating music. While our singer/songwriters, spend time writing, reflecting and arranging on Mondays,

Wednesdays at the N4N Detroit Studio are loud and lively due to the energy that our Motown Mix musicians and producer mentors bring.

FullSizeRenderDennis Mars is no stranger to Detroit’s art scene having been a major visual contributor to the media development of many upcoming local artists in his earlier years. His knack for technology landed him in Silicon Valley as a Senior Web Developer for LinkedIn. Nonetheless, Dennis was insistent on creating a life for himself that was fueled by his greatest passion – music. So he returned to Detroit to put in his 10,000 hours as a pianist and producer. Now, an emerging creative director and music producer, Dennis is a vital contributor to our studio environment. The musician turned producer has worked with Jhene Aiko, Royce da 5’9 and Trey Songs.

Through his demonstration, drive and versatility, our promising students are compelled to create.

Dennis works with youth producer Kevin on a remix to “Ain’t No Mountain”

On any given Wednesday, Dennis can be heard giving youth passionate advice about discipline, commitment and the magic of creativity, then flipping Motown records inside out- sampling iconic lines then adding Hip Hop drums, 808s and new keyboard arrangements.  He is a phenomenal leader, because he embraces the youth’s musicianship; giving them permission to voice their ideas during music production. Youth are able to possess creative autonomy in a learning environment, without sacrificing their own sound. This truly epitomizes the essence of a production mentor, challenging the young musicians and producers to achieve greater music goals while maintaining the integrity of their artistry.

Thank you Dennis for partnering with N4N Detroit’s Motown Mix. We look forward to making more music with you!

An Unforgettable Process

Hi Everyone! My name is Gabriel Myers and I think Notes for Notes is amazing. The people who work for this organization are pure hearted and simply the coolest staff I’ve ever met. As a musician myself, I get how much N4N might mean to youth who don’t have access to music everyday like I do. I’d be lost without music in my life. I wouldn’t have any way to express myself when all my emotions are piled up into one big block of goo in my head. Music is like my diary. It’s kind of like a private vault that can only be opened by me. N4N offers free music education and access to instruments, skill practice, and fun any time kids want after school. More importantly, N4N gives kids a safe place to tap into their own vault of confused feelings and a healthy way to release them.

I could go on and on about Notes for Notes and how cool the studios are, but that’s not what I’m writing about today. Today I’m writing about a process. Now, I know you might be thinking, “What is he talking about? What process? Well, let me explain.

At the beginning of the school year, I was assigned an 8th Grade Community Service Project in which I had to select a non-profit organization to help benefit. Conveniently enough, my mom works for one! I talked to several friends about teaming up with me to support Notes for Notes. I was relieved when Devarshi Mukherji wanted to be part of my group. Dev is a loyal friend and he’s also a musician. This felt like a good fit.

We started off with a simple idea that we completed in school: a Jeans Day for $2.00, and Sweatpants for $3.00. Kids hate to wear uniforms, so in one day we raised $219. But knowing it costs $75,000 to run Detroit’s N4N Studio for one year, that seemed like raising a penny. Devarshi and I decided we wanted to do more.

When I first told my mom I wanted to help Notes for Notes, she helped me brainstorm ideas. When she suggested I host a benefit concert, I thought she was nuts. On the outside, I said, “That’s a fantastic idea!” But on the inside, I checked it off as a thing I was NOT going to do. But, all of a sudden, I found myself asking Dev if he’d host a show with me. Even though it seemed like a hard task, I was excited to make a bigger difference. At first, Dev had the same reaction as me, so I agreed maybe it wasn’t the best idea. Later that night, though, I was lying in bed and got to thinking, “Wait a minute. My mom has hosted a few shows for Notes for Notes and knows how to do this. A good friend of mine is an awesome singer-songwriter. And I have the support of Notre Dame behind me! It’s crazy NOT to host a concert!”

I explained this to Devarshi the next day. He agreed to help, but only if I was in charge of planning the show. He volunteered to complete all the not-so-fun school assignments that went along with the project. This seemed like a good deal.

I knew right away I had to be on top of the planning process so our hard work wouldn’t go to waste. I was surprised and bummed when Notre Dame shot down the idea of hosting the show at the school almost immediately. I had to find another venue in a hurry and knew it might cost money. I asked my dad if he’d be willing to sponsor the show. I thought he’d just say yes, but instead he put me in touch with Ryan Brown at his office, CR Myers & Associates. I had never met him before and he asked me a million questions about the show that I did my best to answer. I was so nervous while talking to him that I snapped a white-out pen in half!  I was very relieved when Mr. Brown agreed to donate $1,000 to cover the cost of the show. I then reached out to Olivia Millerschin, my friend and artist who agreed to perform for me. She told me she was playing back to back sold-out shows that weekend at 20 Front Street – a cool new listening room in Lake Orion, MI. I made a date with my mom so I could check out the venue. After sitting through both shows, I knew this was the perfect spot to host my show.

I wasn’t able to meet the owner that night, so I emailed him the next day. Devarshi and I started to lose hope when I didn’t get a response right away. Later the next week, my mom picked us up from school to take us to basketball. We told her we decided the show wasn’t going to work out, so we started to fill out our assigned process journal to get our project over with a few months early. If you know my mom, you won’t be surprised when I tell you her exact response:

“Well, if you guys want to sit on your butts and do nothing, that’s your choice. But I think you are missing out on an incredible opportunity that will really help you in the future. I’m not okay with you giving up yet, but it’s up to you.”

I knew she was right, but at this point it seemed impossible. Imagine my surprise when I got home and there was an email from 20 Front Street sitting in my inbox. The owner, Mr. Allan Goetz, said 20 Front Street would love to support my project to help Notes for Notes and was willing to donate the venue for free! I couldn’t believe it! I was so grateful and I started to think maybe we could do this after all!

We had to get on it, and fast. Olivia was booked for a local show later that month, so the promotions were going to be up to me. An undergound show at 14?? This was crazy! My mom told us what we needed to pull it off. It was a lot!

  1. Venue (20 Front Street ROCKS!)
  2. Artist (Olivia Millerschin is the
  3. Sponsor (Thanks Dad!)
  4. Ticket Sales (How??)
  5. Promotion (HUH?!)

Next, I reached out to James Pyne, my good friend and trombone player for Olivia. He’s also a graphic designer. James created a digital flyer for email and a poster to print and hang. Juliana Lee, Notes for Notes Director of Community Relations, created an online ticket link for me so it would be easy to track who bought tickets and donated to my show. Once these were created, I sent emails out to all Notre Dame students in the middle school and high school. I was surprised and nervous when not many tickets sold at first. So I spent a whole evening making annoying phone calls and sent out several email reminders. Finally, tickets started to sell. I was relieved to know people might actually show up to this thing.

The night of the show was a lot of fun. In addition to the concert, we had a 50/50 raffle and two silent auction items: a Tahir Whitehead signed Detroit Lions Xenith helmet donated by Krista Gilley, and a ukelele signed by Olivia Millerschin herself. I introduced the show to my friends and family and was surprised how easy it was to talk on the microphone in front of everyone. I actually kind of liked it!

Olivia Millerschin

Olivia Millerschin

As I watched Olivia and her band perform, I felt very accomplished. It was exciting to have this experience under my belt and know that if I wanted to do it again there was nothing stopping me.  That night, we achieved something I never thought I could do: We hosted an underground show and raised $4,585! That’s A LOT of money!!! I realized I was capable of anything if I just put my mind to it.

I’m surprised to admit I miss the work that went into planning the show. I don’t know why, and I promise I never thought I would say that in a million years! The entire process was unbelievably hard, complicated, and stressful. But it was worth it.

I have a grand piano at my fingertips, as well as a guitar and lessons. I helped give these kinds of opportunities to kids who don’t have them. Notes for Notes helped me help others. Helping takes work for sure, but now I know how great it feels after it’s done. I’m proud to say I’ve accomplished something not everyone my age has done.

And now I can finally say:

Wow. What an unforgettable process and thank you to everyone who helped make it one!

Gabe and Dev

Gabe and Dev


MSU and N4N: Big Ten Floor Champs!

Photo Credit: Arturo Rodriguea

Passion is defined as a strong and barely controllable emotion. It’s a word full of inspiration. A feeling better demonstrated than described. A driving force that may slow down at times, but never fully stops.

Outside of my children, I’ve been passionate about two careers in my life. As such, I had to find a way to make them intersect because that’s the only way life would make sense:

20 years ago, I was a member of the Michigan State University Women’s Gymnastics Team. No matter what, I wear that badge with the utmost of pride and honor. Because once you’re a Spartan Gymnast, you are guaranteed loyal teammates for life. Not friends… TEAMMATES.

3 years ago, I began to work with Notes for Notes. It was a baby of an organization at the time, and I could tell it was in need of some serious national support. I immediately reached out to my Spartan teammates and asked for help. I called Linder about Ventura, Chrissy about Dallas, Bri about Detroit, Leen about Portland, Polly about Austin, Eileen and Lindsay about Brooklyn, Erin with questions about Kalamazoo, and Lori about Nashville.

Then I called my coach Kathie in East Lansing. “Kath – I work for this amazing non-profit. Free youth music studios. Can we make you some floor music?”

I was giddy when her answer was YES.

Enter Elena Lagoski – a powerhouse of a tumbler and rockstar of a dancer. N4N had just been offered a very special opportunity.

I immediately called Will Flores in Nashville – N4N Lead Producer, Program Director and student alumni. Will flew to Detroit’s N4N Studio inside the SAY Detroit Play Center to meet with Elena in person to get the exact feel for the music that would inspire her to perform her best.

Elena, Will and assistant coach and choreographer, Nicole Curler, collaborated in front of the production station for hours – talking, counting, adding beats, dancing, then subtracting beats.

I was the only person who fully understood the level of artistic and athletic talent present in the room:

Elena the gymnast. Will the producer. Nicole the choreographer.

As the structure of her intense floor music began to take shape, I couldn’t help but predict:


And was it ever. After a season full of unexpected twists and turns, public controversy and scandal that would make anyone want to run and hide, Elena took the floor at The Big Ten Championships with the weight of the world on her shoulders. With pressure coming at her from every direction, the next 1:30 would determine her ability to dig deep, focus and conquer. Aware this might be the last floor routine of her life, Elena took a deep breath and put on a smile.

It was game time for this young woman with a Spartan heart.

Congratulations, Elena Lagoski, 2017 Big Ten Floor Champion!

Your strength is incredible. Your passion is inspiring.

Thanks for letting Notes for Notes be just a small part of your team.

Written by:
Kristin (Peugeot) Myers
MSU Spartan 1996-2000

Photo Credit:
Arturo Rodriguez

Looking Both Ways w/ Olivia Millerschin; from Classical to Contemporary

Olivia Millerschin is a multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter who has toured the country with her new sophomore album “Look Both Ways”. Her album cover artwork puts you in the mind of Francis Cugat, the graphic artist for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic “The Great Gatsby” and while she humbly expresses her appreciation of novel writers, she remains a graceful songwriter. Nonetheless, she was well equipped for the students at the Detroit Notes For Notes™ (N4N) Studio, as she’s been volunteering with us for two years. Originally trained for opera, with experience on Broadway, Olivia easily related to our classically trained Detroit School of Arts singers. She harnessed her classical training into a contemporary style much like they are learning to do.

IMG_0474The N4N songwriters and Olivia set out to rewrite Motown’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, from the perspective of ex-lovers. The youth were given much creative control and raved about their writing experience with Olivia. At a glimpse, the session highlighted the student’s excitement to vent, while remaining creatively autonomous. After all, they had a long day at school and already written in their journal were lyrics to be conjured to melodies. Renita and Shaunell were very interested in providing the vocal arrangements, harmony, and call and response to the song with Olivia’s help.


Initially, Millerschin ran an exercise similar to that of last Monday’s Guest Instructor Antea’s, but while Shelton emphasized the art of storytelling, Olivia began rewriting the Motown song immediately with the students. We found that both instructors’ methods of creating music were different, but very much so beneficial to our singer-songwriters.

Thank you so much Olivia for you continued support of N4N Detroit! We are looking forward to strengthening our partnership with you!