Ottawa Bluesfest

Be in the Band

What is Be In the Band (BITB)?

RBC Bluesfest Be in The Band – (Click for printable Be in the Band information)

The Ottawa Bluesfest first launched their ‘Be in the Band’ initiative in January of 2009. The three-month pilot project put young musicians (ages 11 to 17) who wanted to be in a band together with other potential band-mates. The festival organization recruited a number of professional local musicians for mentoring the aspiring future stars and provided all the necessary tech support and equipment for the kids to truly enjoy a high-quality ensemble experience. To initiate the program, Bluesfest—in partnership with the Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group—created a band room and rehearsal space at the Tennis Club adjacent to the Glebe Community Centre. The room included a drum kit, a keyboard, guitar amps and a sound system. The pilot project went so well that the initiative was extended to the Michele Heights Community Centre in September of 2009.

The Ottawa Bluesfest organization has expanded their ‘Be in the Band’ program to include at-risk youth in various communities. Many of these potential musicians do not have the means to afford music lessons. As an entry level opportunity, Bluesfest provides 10 to 12 weeks of semi-private lessons for as many as 10 pairs of students (ages 11 to 17) in each participating community.

“The initial idea was to offer students, who currently sing or play an instrument, an opportunity to work with others to create music,” says Bluesfest’s executive director Mark Monahan. “We found that there was a broader interest in the program from kids who loved the idea of one day being in a band, but needed help getting started. That’s why we decided to provide music lessons, as well. The ultimate goal is a possible performance for families, friends, and future fans on-stage at the RBC Bluesfest.”

Note to organizers of Community Youth Programs:
If you would like to express interest in participating in this program, please contact: Alan Marsden by email at:


“When I first auditioned I didn’t know what I was getting into, but by the first or second rehearsal it was really cool to know what I’d be able to do by the end of it. Writing a song and seeing it come to life; that was probably the coolest part.”

Katelyn, Be in the Band Member

“The Royal is absolutely thrilled that RBC Bluesfest Be In The Band program is being offered again in 2013.  Last year, we had the privilege and honor to watch the band members not only build friendships and self-confidence but grow as people and amazing musicians. All of them came with different talents but with only one goal … to be in the band.”

Sue Riley, The Royal Participating Community Organization

RBC Bluesfest Be In The Band Alert

What: Bluesfest Musical Instrument Drive
When: Ongoing (except during the festival in July)
Where: Instruments can be dropped off between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays (except during the festival in July), at RBC Bluesfest HQ (Festival House), 450 Churchill Ave., N. (Mezzanine Level).
Why: To join the RBC Bluesfest organization in sharing the joy of music! Community donates used instruments for children in need

RBC Bluesfest’s ‘Be in the Band’ program mentors young people who have an interest in music. The Ottawa Bluesfest organization is expanding this program to include at-risk youth in various communities across. To support this initiative, the Ottawa Bluesfest organization is in desperate need of instruments to be used by participating students.

“We’re calling on the community to donate instruments,” says Bluesfest’s executive director, Mark Monahan. “Many people have instruments at home that they’re not using. We’re hoping people will want to donate those instruments to a very worthy cause.” Ottawa residents are encouraged to drop off their out-of-use instruments at the Ottawa Bluesfest offices mentioned above.

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