OUR HISTORY

No matter what your musical interest or skill level, Plugged In has a place for you.

 

Based in Needham, MA, Tom Pugh and Sandra Rizkallah co-founded Plugged In 20 years ago as a non-profit that serves musicians of all skill levels and abilities in Massachusetts and around the world through inclusive programs and community service.

 

Many young people have no outlet or opportunities for their enthusiasm and creative energy. The Plugged In program offers musicians something they can not often find elsewhere: 

  • A community to which they can belong

  • An opportunity to connect with other student musicians

  • A place where they feel safe to take risks and gain self confidence

  • A way to learn about the importance of community giving through our events and bi-annual benefit concerts. 

 

Plugged In is for anyone who wants to start a rock band, but either doesn’t know how, doesn’t have the confidence to do so, has no one with whom to start the band, or doesn’t have a place to rehearse. 

 

Plugged In gives musicians a venue to channel that creativity, work in a group, and improve their music skills while learning about the importance of social activism and inclusivity in a nurturing, noncompetitive, and supportive environment. We encourage students to take risks in both musical performance and songwriting, which results in artistic growth and increased confidence. ​​Whether you are a prospective Plugged In student, parent, local business, or you are just interested in the Plugged In experience we would love to hear from you.

 

OUR MISSION

Our success is measured by how we do well, not how well we do.

 

Our goal is to bring students together and teach them how to be in a rock band and, more importantly, understand the importance of giving back to the community through music and philanthropy. We hope to provide role models and opportunities for students to participate in the community and charitable causes  as well as connect with their musical peers. 

 

We are committed to creating an inclusive, loving, and diverse community empowered to change the world. We educate musicians in a non-competitive environment, and provide band and individual performance opportunities in support of community and charitable causes. Through our dual education in music and heart, we hope to show our students how to use music to gain confidence, make a positive change in the world, and help others throughout their lives.

 

OUR VALUES

  • Philanthropy and giving back to the community are fundamental to the program.

    • Not only do we have concerts that benefit charities chosen by the students, we offer a variety of community service opportunities for our students.

    • One of the most important aspects of Plugged In is the emphasis placed on showing students how they can use music to better the world.

  • Plugged In is inclusive in all ways.

    • We respect and embrace differences. We encourage students to express themselves freely through their music. No one will be turned away. We welcome all instruments and musicians of all experience levels and abilities including those with special needs. We do not limit the number of students we enroll in band classes and, through our Inclusion Fund, we offer scholarships to those who cannot afford the tuition.

  • There is no hierarchy - everyone is equal. 

    • We try to avoid the rules, competition, and pressures students experience at school and in life. There are no band leaders and all bands perform in a noncompetitive environment. Everyone is valued equally for their contributions.

 

OUR SERVICES

At Plugged In, all students have the opportunity to participate in band classes, private lessons, workshops and additional activities like our concerts and benefits where we raise money for a charity of choice. Through our low teacher-to-student ratios, each musician gets a great deal of attention as well as has the ability to learn from one another –– both in their own bands and from one band to the other.

 

Students can create bands made up of about 5 students each. They each choose a name for their band and what songs they are going to play. Students also have the opportunity to perform original music 

 

Performance Opportunities

Plugged In gives students the chance to showcase their progress and abilities at our benefit concerts as well as events around the community. These are completely optional and voluntary opportunities in which students can perform with their bands, by themselves, and/or with students from other bands. 

Events Plugged In has played: 

  • Harvard Square

  • Local street fairs

  • Local Changer of Commerce Events

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration - Needham

  • Needham Fourth of July Parade

  • New Year’s Celebration - Needham

  • Walker School

 

Benefit Concerts

Aside from our local performances, Plugged In holds multiple benefit concerts throughout the program and at the end of each session for a charitable organization chosen by the students.

At the beginning of each session, we hold a Community Engage Evening where students present charities and causes important to them. By the evening, the musicians vote to determine the recipient charitable organization for the benefit concert. 

We have raised money for:

  • Seeds of Peace: A camp where Arab and Jewish teenagers come together and learn conflict resolution skills and learn to develop trust and empathy for one another

  • The Tobacco Free Mass Coalition

  • I Love Music Foundation: Started by Walter McCarty of the Boston Celtics to promote music opportunities, resources and education for Boston youth

  • The Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care and Music For Relief

  • The Elias Fund, started by the band Dispatch to provide hope and opportunity through education to the next generation of Zimbabwean youth

  • Amnesty International

 

Youth Board

All Plugged In students have the opportunity to join the Youth Board to strengthen the student community through fostering greater involvement of students in the programs and activities of Plugged In. The Board meets once a month in the evening and gives the chance for students from different bands and programs to meet and get to know each other. The Youth Board lets students have a say in important decisions being made by the organization and gives them the opportunity to help guide Plugged In’s development.

 
 

OUR VALUE PROPOSITION

Plugged In combines music education, philanthropy and diversity in a creative and collaborative environment where students gain music education, self-esteem, connection and community and are prepared for a life of civic participation in an inclusive society.

OUR VISION

Create an inclusive and comprehensive community for young musicians, including those with special needs.  Plugged In will offer programming to keep young musicians busy and engaged through music education, performance, and community and charitable involvement.