Yesterday & Tomorrow is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to music and musical performance education. We take dedicated, talented high school students in the metro Richmond, Virginia area and form them into a rock band giving them the tools and direction necessary to perform at the highest level. We support worthy non-profits by performing at their fund raising events.
Professional Equipment • Dedicated Direction • Mentoring from Professional Musicians • Original Music
We are committed to providing creative opportunity and inspiring focused ambition for serious high school musicians. We work to expand the influence of musical excellence while helping make our community a better place to live.
Long ago, around the end of 6th grade, I realized I was going to school with a lot of cute girls. And when they talked about music, I was lost. So I spent a good bit of the following summer listening to a top 40 station on my transistor radio. I never stopped listening in all the years that followed. A few years later, I bought a bass and learned to play it practicing the Beatles songbook with a friend who played guitar. I played in several bands starting in high school through college until eventually I started a career in technology (better pay and hours). Over the years though, I never stopped listening and thinking about what I would do with my next opportunity to play.
About 3 years ago, my oldest daughter and I played at an open mic night in St. John. We had a great time and followed that by playing together for other open mic nights and for her musical theater auditions. I began to think about forming a band that would help her develop as a singer. That idea expanded to having a band of motivated high school students who could all work toward developing their talents as professionally as possible.
There are plenty of programs for high school athletes to develop their potential to the fullest. Some of these programs, like travel soccer and baseball, extend elite training outside the schools. There are organizations that support musical theater and visual arts. And sure, there are programs in our area that teach kids how to play and sing rock and even some programs that form temporary bands with those students. And I’m sure there are lots of kids getting together on their own to form bands. But there’s no organization that currently supports rock music performance in the same way that travel soccer supports soccer development.
As I began developing the idea for forming a band with high school students, I thought the name “Yesterday & Tomorrow” fit. Our motto is “Rock the Future. Respect the Past.” Part of my musical direction is to ground the band in some rock fundamentals that have been working since the 60’s and 70’s (and even farther back in time if we respect the musical roots). But I want the band to take those ideas and perform them with their own voice, make them more current.
We have made the idea of the band into reality. We’ve equipped the band with professional grade equipment, a permanent practice studio, professional direction and set concert dates in safe environments. We put students in the closest thing to a completely professional band as possible.
In addition, we will do two other major things that I don’t believe any other organization of this type does:
1.) We will largely perform original music. I have a plan that will provide structure to this process, so the end result will not be entirely random and will hopefully be really fun to listen to. We have a goal of recording a CD of original music every year.
2.) We will use the power of our performances to help charities and school music programs raise money for their good works. We want to inspire more young people to get involved in music and to see that it can make a real difference in people’s lives.
The students who are members of Yesterday & Tomorrow share my love for music. It’s something that excites them and their dreams include those of being called back for a second encore from a crowd that just can’t get enough. They want the best opportunity to further their dream and develop their talents. They want to inspire in the same way they have been inspired by the music they love.
Solid principles are the basis for success of any organization. Strong adherence to these ideals enables vision to become reality.
Yesterday & Tomorrow, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, will operate around 6 basic concepts. These will apply to the organization as a whole as well as to each member of the organization.
Each principle is phrased as an active verb because I believe that these standards are something you actively do and are not just a state of mind. Living your values is not always easy, none of us is perfect, but keeping them at the top of your to-do list will pay dividends for both the organization as well as the individuals within.
As a group, we will routinely review how well each of us commit to and act upon our goals.
Here are the principles that YaT believes are necessary for excellence:
RESPECT—Respect is all about fairness. The ability to understand things in context. The pursuit of empathy. The attempt to understand people and ideas even if they are new and different.
Respect is not blind to right and wrong, not every action or idea is worthy of respect. But we should try to fairly evaluate people or ideas before passing judgment.
Practicing respect is a great way to learn new ideas. It’s also an essential component of every other principle in our list.
It’s especially important to respect yourself.
LISTEN—There’s not much you can learn without listening. It’s hard to listen effectively without practicing respect.
In the band, it will be essential that everyone listen to each other to be able to perform well. Really listening closely can also expand your imagination, musically or otherwise.
CONNECT—Performance, in a basic sense, is telling stories and sharing emotions. At its best, performance is a direct, meaningful and personal conversation between the performers and the audience.
In order to connect, you have to care about that communication and constantly work to keep it flowing. A performance that’s more about showing off might earn some grudging respect for its technical accomplishment but a connected performance can touch someone’s heart.
PERSIST—Being your best is a never ending task. You can always work to become better and if you consistently do that, nobody can ask for more.
The journey really is more important than the destination because how you work on your path goes a long way to defining who you really are. It’s important to have the patience to keep up the hard work even when the goal seems far away.
CELEBRATE—There are always things to celebrate in life, even when times are hard. Find the time to be grateful for the gifts you’ve been given and work to truly enjoy them.
Joy can be infectious – feel it yourself and you can pass it on.
GIVE—Love is the one thing that you have more of the more you give it away. Share your gifts and your bounty will increase. You don’t really own anything until you can give it away.
We have all benefitted from the generosity of others. Nothing is free – pay your debts forward and commit to making a positive difference.
Yesterday & Tomorrow provides professional grade equipment. None of the band members needs to own anything! The practice studio is set up and ready to rock as soon as everyone walks through the door. The band has everything it needs to put on a full stage, professional show in any arena up to the largest high school theaters without using any school or outside equipment.
We support a core band and a number of side projects. Our students work together to create the highest possible quality of music by focusing on 3 key areas:
- Execution – We work to identify and refine the fundamentals of execution that make the difference between OK and great. We break down and recreate existing music to learn precision and expressive playing and singing.
- Imagination – How would you recreate a favorite song in a different style? We take songs and remake them to learn what you can do with existing melodies and structures.
- Creativity – Original music is not made completely from a blank page. There are theoretical and structural guidelines to help build music from the ground up.
By the end of our yearly season, we’ve put together a CDs worth of original music. We go into a recording studio to record and mix our music before sending it off to be mastered and turned into a finished product. This is the final project of each year and serves as a lasting reminder of what we accomplish.
Jim Pokorny, President
Dave Carper, Secretary
Kevin Gaines, Treasurer
Marlon Harris, Sr., Parent Representative
Matt Whitsett, Student Representative
What is that symbol in the YaT logo?
If you already know what the first symbol in the logo is, you’re admitting your age. Don’t worry, sometimes there’s wisdom in age!
Back in the day, long before MP3s, CDs, cassettes or even 8 track tapes, if you wanted to listen to recorded music, you had to play vinyl records. LP (long playing, 33 RPM) records had around 5 songs on each side and were called albums (I still call my CDs albums).
There were also singles (one song per side, 45rpm). These had a larger hole in the center and you had to click in an adapter to be able to play it on home record players.
What is the time commitment?
We have two levels of commitment. Our core band is the main band for performances and recording. We also sponsor side projects that have more flexible schedules and goals.
Core band members commit for a full school year. We have two practices per week (currently 11 to 1 Saturdays and 7 to 9 Mondays). We expect work to be done outside of practice, that allows us to keep our hours together at a more modest level.
Side projects can create their own practice schedule and have more choice over musical direction. The side projects do need to be productive in order to continue to be supported. Performance and recording time depend on the level of work and commitment of the side projects.
Band members are excused from practice if they have mandatory school activities that conflict.
How often does the band perform?
We try and schedule about 6 major performances (mostly, if not all, on Friday nights) each year. Most of these will be full length concerts in the second half of the school year (following winter break).
We may schedule shorter performances at events where we can promote the band (festivals, etc.). We also perform for charities when possible.
All performances can potentially involve the core band and/or the side projects. No one is ever asked to make a performance that conflicts with a scheduled school activity.
What kind of music will you play?
We range from blues to alternative to power pop to classic rock to power punk to whatever we can play well. We like songs with melody and structure and plenty of hooks. Like the idea of being in a band but want to play a different kind of music? If you can play it or sing it well, we’re interested. Check us out on our music page.
Where does the band practice?
We have a large climate controlled storage unit at SpaceMart on 5300 Commonwealth Centre Pkwy in Midlothian. This is conveniently located immediately off 288 near Hull Street. The building is relatively new, well lit and has security cameras throughout. The unit is custom wired for our electrical needs and has sound baffles to make the unit acoustically livable.
How much does it cost?
For band members, Yesterday & Tomorrow is definitely the best deal in town. It’s free! Band members will not even be required to have their own equipment (guitarists can use their own guitars and drummers their own kits if they like and if they are up the our equipment standards).
How is YaT funded?
Initially, Yesterday & Tomorrow has secured a loan to pay for purchase of equipment for the band, rental of the practice facility and insurance. Yesterday and Tomorrow relies entirely on volunteer staff, there are no paid positions.
Going forward, we will be funded primarily through donations from our generous sponsors. Additionally, we will seek support from other non-profits that promote the arts. 100% of band revenue goes toward running the band (rehearsal space, equipment and insurance) – there are no administrative or staff costs.
Consider helping us today – just click here.
Where will the band perform?
The band will perform events in selected Chesterfield County middle schools and high schools. We play a monthly dance for special needs teens and adults. We also perform in support of fundraising efforts of other worthy non-profits.
Why don’t you have a ‘comment section’ for your blog?
While we really want to hear comments about our program and about blog posts, we don’t have the resources to police the comments section for bad behavior. We will read all civil communications and look forward to posting replies that further constructive dialog.
What are the kids like?
The students in Yesterday & Tomorrow are the most multi-talented group of young adults I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. They are hard working and big hearted. They love creating and playing music and I am incredibly blessed to work with them.