Any feedback on crowdfunding to teach kids a musical instrument?

I have a question which I would love get some feedback from SS'ers about :D

Do any of you have any experience with crowdfunding? I am considering setting up a funding approach to give at-risk kids the chance to learn to play the flute.

Background: I teach the flute. I've set up a (part-time) business as a sole trader, and I meet all the business and associated requirements (eg. I have a working with children card, public liability insurance, etc etc etc).

In WA, all children in the public education system are tested in Year 4 for musical aptitude. Those who demonstrate above a particular level of aptitude are offered the chance to learn a musical instrument, which is subsidised through the WA Ed Dept.

I personally believe that aptitude is only one aspect that should be considered when it comes to music. Interest is really a key issue - if the child is interested, they should have the chance to learn an instrument. This is where the WA Ed Dept falls down - I should add that it does need to be able to draw the line somewhere, but I do feel that there are kids who would really benefit, who currently do miss out.

I've been thinking lately about giving kids who don't meet this level of aptitude a chance to learn to play the flute, through teaching them myself. This would be done in conjunction with the child's teacher, principal and music teacher (if there is one), so as to identify those children who didn't meet the WA Ed Dept SIMS aptitude level (and so didn't qualify for the music program), and don't already learn an instrument outside of school.

Ideally the kid(s) identified would also be those kids who have been identified by their teacher (or school) as likely to benefit from learning an instrument. Maybe kids who are struggling a bit at school, or kids for whom English isn't a first language, kids who help to care for a sibling or parent, etc etc.

I have looked at costings, and per child, the cost would range from between $4,900 and $6,100 per year. If the lower amount was reached, I would be prepared to donate my lesson time free of charge (usually $50/hour). These costs would include:
1. Instrument hire - this includes instrument itself, a hard case to keep it in, cleaning gear, electronic metronome (+battery), and music stand;
2. Annual service for instrument
3. Music books & other educational materials
4. Laptop and internet connection if not available - both of these are essential for exposure to styles of music, practice assignments, etc
5. Peripheral items to assist in lesson participation - for example, a sandwich or similar for a snack before the lesson (if needed), taxi fares to and from lessons (if needed). These items would be on an as-needs basis - for example, I wouldn't want a kid to miss out because their only parent works and can't drive them to their lesson. I also would hate to think that a child wouldn't be able to concentrate fully in their lesson because they hadn't had enough to eat. This stuff would be determined by discussion with the teacher and parent(s).
6. Lessons - as I said, if the higher amount wasn't reached, I would be prepared to give this for free.

I've missed the window of opportunity to do this for 2015, but I am very keen to set this up for 2016. Apart from getting in touch with the local school next year, I'm keen to look at effective ways to set this up through a platform such as Indiegogo or Kickstarter - preferably Indiegogo, as they give you the funding achieved, even if you don't reach the full target amount.

Anyway, I would be very interested in your feedback, whether it's about my idea or about crowdfunding generally. And thank you for making it this far through my novel of a post!! :eek:
That sounds unreal, good for you! In the past 11 years while my kids have attended school it has really opened my eyes up! Helping at risk kids is unreal. It was so lovely recently seeing my sons primary school graduation and a couple of kids who were at risk receiving awards. One of the children was bought up by her grandma while the parent/s? were in jail. Was thinking today how sad it would be for my friends 15 year old daughter after my friend passed away a couple of years ago. Some kids have very complicated lives. I'm sure the schools could provide a good list.
Thanks Invstor :) I get a lot of personal enjoyment out of teaching the flute, and I'd love to bring it to kids who might otherwise fall through the cracks.

Come on everyone, don't be shy.... I know you all have opinions on anything and everything! :p
Can't help with crowd funding, no experience there but I have heard that many philanthropists love music and provide financial assistance to good students.

If you have no success with crowd funding perhaps you could write to the music conservatory in WA or even a letter or two to someone like Gina Rinehart, Twiggy Forrest or Kerry Stokes may be worth a try.
Hi Macca,

That's a great idea, and one that hadn't occurred to me. I guess it would be particularly good if someone had been learning for a few years and maybe had the chance to participate in a music camp type situation and needed the funding to attend, needed a better spec instrument, etc.

In the ideal world I would also extend this to other instruments. I'm starting out with flute because that's what I teach, but I'd love to have other instruments involved too.

Jen :)
My friend did made a film and asked for $1200 to cover the costs of the film on Pozible (crowdfunding website). The reward to his donors was to be acknowledged on his film. I made a donation but I didn't want to be acknowledged on the film (shy). The rule was that if he didn't get his target of $1200, all the monies donated would be returned to the donors. He made his target so kept all the money from donors.

My partner knows a lot more about crowdfunding than I do, so I asked him if he could share any tips.

Each crowdfunding has its own rule and rewards. For general purpose crowdfunding - is an Australian crowdfunding platform, headquartered in Australia, Melbourne. It is quite popular

As you already know, there is also kickstarter and indiegogo but I think they are American start-ups and headquartered in the US.

My partner shared that the bottom line is when you create a campaign on a crowdfunding platform, that is actually the last stage
There is actually a lot, a lot of prep work beforehand to build up your cred on social media platforms to gain people's trust, awareness and encourage commitment towards your project

You don't just put a video on the crowdfunding website and ask people to donate
it's a trust issue, people need to trust you
you need to raise your profile, gather your supporters, both personally amongst people/supporters whom you know directly and indirectly on social media platforms amongst strangers who may become possible supporters

Perhaps produce a video about your story already, how you are already giving disadvantaged kids flute lessons, how it's enriched or changed their lives. Put it on youtube to gain awareness, email your video to possible corporate sponsors - do all this raising awareness on social media beforehand to gather your supporters before you do the crowdfunding campaign proper.

These are some handbooks and articles that he thought might be of help: -

The above internet article first para is

"Recently I failed at running a crowdfunding campaign for my startup that makes behavioral health mobile and online games. Why should you listen to me? After all, I did not reach my goal. I am going to save you thousands of dollars, time and agony by telling you the secrets I wished I knew before I started. Lesson one is ignore what you learn on the Internet because the majority of it is out-of-date, ineffective and plain wrong since crowdfunding has drastically changed since the early days (of a few years ago)......"

The pozible website had some good tips -

  • Offer people experiences they can?t get anywhere else. Involve them in your project and with the people running it. Make them an extra in the film, name a character in your book after them or play a gig in their backyard. Make them feel special.
  • People like it when you acknowledge them publicly. Thank them on Facebook. Put their name in your book. Make them an Executive Producer. Acknowledgements are easy to deliver and usually come at no financial cost.

  • Star in your own video. People want to support you as much as they want to support your idea. They want to connect and hear your story. Yes we know it?s scary. Doing things that scare you is a good thing.
  • Be emotive! Make people laugh. Tug on heartstrings. Excite. Inspire. Fascinate. Just make them feel something!
  • Tell a story. We really can?t stress this enough. If you take people on a journey there is every chance they will share in your excitement and enthusiasm for the project.
  • Keep it under three minutes. Preferably two. You need enough time to get your message across, but you don?t want to harp on. You will lose people?s attention

"Also prepare for your potential donors to ask hard questions for example, 'what if the child loses interest in learning the flute, what's going to happen to the flute/laptop? Do you keep the flute/laptop, does it pass on to the next child?" - (this was my partner's advice, not mine!:))
Thanks Beanie Girl, great advice!

I won't address the majority of your post, as it obviously needs me to go away and look into it further, but it certainly makes a lot of sense. I have a reasonably good network in the flute teaching world, and at least one music store which would be strongly supportive, which would help to raise the profile of the concept.

Re the hard questions, I have actually already thought of a few of these and have some answers :)
1. Kid loses interest - I keep an eye on any new starters, to see how they feel about how they're going, whether they're enjoying themselves, etc. I would do this with these kids as well. I'd also keep in touch with the school and take on board any feedback they might want to give me about academic improvements (or otherwise), attention span changes (if any), behaviour changes (if any). Part of what you have to do as a music teacher is find out whether they are genuinely not interested, in which case it's not much use proceeding, or whether it comes down to reluctance to practice - this is a bit like doing homework, and can be overcome/addressed so the kid has a better understanding of what learning a musical instrument entails. It's not a deal breaker but just requires a bit of extra attention from my perspective.
Ultimately I would say that if the kid gets to the six month mark and isn't interested, we'd look at pulling the pin and giving another kid the opportunity. By this point we would have got past the 'homework'/practice aspects etc. so we'd know it wasn't that. After all, not all kids are interested in music, just like not all kids are interested in sports.

2. Laptop and internet access - this would be organised through my business and would remain my property/responsibility. As per the above, if the kid wasn't interested in proceeding, then they would need to return the laptop and we would cancel the broadband.
My husband has also suggested that maybe I teach them for a year and if they want to continue, to look at the laptop and internet provision in the second year. This would help to avoid the issue of a student losing interest early on and any possible problems with getting the laptop back.

Thanks again for the crowdfunding-specific feedback - it's really handy!
Is there anyone that you know, have vaguely crossed paths or are related to that you could do this program with? Possibly enhance their life greatly?
I have an unrelated relative who is trying to set up something along similar lines but to a much bigger scale.
I can't help you with the crowdfunding side either but I think it's a great idea. One compelling reason to pursue this is the correlation between studying music and performance in maths. There is a lot of research around this topic and it might be good to highlight this in some blog posts and in your 'pitch' on the crowdfunding web site. I have seen this work with my neighbour's kid who was struggling in maths and my partner suggested to the dad that the kid should learn an instrument. The dad was pretty skeptical but enrolled the kid in some music lessons. I just found out he graduated dux of his school and with a high enough score to get into UWA.