Money from Beatles project going to benefit Minn. schoolsPublished 8:00pm Saturday, December 1, 2012
The nonprofit behind The Minnesota Beatle Project is taking its next album of Beatles cover songs to the clouds.
“The Minnesota Beatle Project Volume 4” will be released in stores and online Dec. 4 to once again raise money for art and music in Minnesota public schools.
The nonprofit Vega Productions will use the proceeds from the latest volume to fund Instruments in the Cloud, an online database to catalogue and track all the instruments in a school district.
“It gives the school the ability to catalogue their entire instrument inventory,” said Mark Gehring, executive producer of the Minnesota Beatle Project and director of Vega Productions.
Instruments in Cloud, found at www.instrumentsinthecloud.org, will be free for all the schools in Minnesota to use.
“It’s a free resource for everybody,” Gehring said.
One of the main goals is to make it possible for all students to participate in music programs across the state, even if they can’t afford an instrument.
The site is still in the early stages, and some of the largest Minnesota school districts have already joined, like St. Paul, Minneapolis and Duluth public schools. After the larger pilot schools get going, Gehring hopes other districts will come online.
“We’re just really now getting schools set up to use it,” he said.
Gehring said they started with the largest school districts because they have the most instruments and biggest inventory of instruments.
For the most part, the site will be used for each district to categorize their instruments and share between schools within that district. There is the potential for schools to share or swap instruments with other districts if they chose, as officials will be able to search surrounding school districts for instruments if a child cannot afford one.
School officials can specify the quality of each instrument, track repairs and track the students who have used it. Officials can also add notes and as much info as wanted with each instrument.
People can also visit the site to donate old instruments.
“It also allows instrument donors to connect directly with schools,” Gehring said.
Instruments in the Cloud is a unique project, according to Gehring, that came up as Vega Productions was working promoting previous Minnesota Beatle Project albums.
“We believe this is the only type of site that’s out there right now,” Gehring said.
On the fourth installment of the Minnesota Beatle Project, the movement is still going strong, according Gehring.
“We get requests probably every other day from people who want to contribute songs to the album,” he said.
The albums feature mostly performers from Minnesota, and Volume 4 features Halloween Alaska, Trampled by Turtles, Haley Bonar, Chastity Brown and Caroline Smith & the Goodnight Sleeps, and more.
This album also has a special spot for a non-Minnesota band. Gehring was at a music festival casually chatting with the Denver-based DeVotchKa and they expressed interest in participating.
“It was kind of nice to offer them a gift spot on the album,” he said, since they’re not from the state. They performed “Girl” off of “Rubber Soul.”
Gehring said Volume 4 is a bit different in that it features more female singers and performers than prior albums.
“That doesn’t make it necessarily a softer album,” he said, noting the performances pack a powerful punch.
For the most part, acts pick what Beatles song they wish to cover, and acts have only rarely had to pick a different song if it was on a previous volume.
While Gehring said they didn’t know what to expect at first, the success of early volumes energized organizers to make each volume better and better. The Minnesota Beatle Project has provided scholarships to 20,000 students in 30 Minnesota schools.
Gehring assures there’s still more coming from the Minnesota Beatles Project.
“We’re definitely going to do Volume 5,” he said, adding it will be released December of 2013.
But after that, Gehring said he’s not sure if it will continue. However, he said Vega Productions has other projects in the works to continue the mission.
Did you know?
Nicholas David Mrozinski, a musician from St. Paul currently on NBC’s “The Voice, performed “Across the Universe” on “Minnesota Beatle Project Volume 1.”