The Ground UP: Building Music in the Community

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The Ground Up Music Program is a youth arts and music development program located in the Falstaff Community Centre of North York. The Ground Up music program takes young artists and gives them the opportunity to experience professional aspects of the music industry.

The facility houses a music recording studio including a sound proof booth and a 27 inch iMac equipped with a digital audio workstation. This is connected to an Apollo Microphone pre-amp, and also has a sound card. The studio also hosts 2 Rokit KRK 8’s, and a Neumann U-87 Microphone. What all of that means is that the Ground Up program is able to create professional grade sounds and music in a convenient community center location.

There is also a small lounge area in the hallway, which leads to the development room. In the development room, there is a backdrop to take pictures, microphones to use for development and stage presence, and a set up for the “From the Ground Up with DT” radio show on

The Program is the brainchild of Patrick Shaw, the Community Recreation Programmer for the facility. Patrick says “the program came out of a need in the community. There are all these young people playing Basketball and other sports, but what about the other youth that don’t play sports, I want to reach them.”

The idea became a reality with the help of local community members such as Ziggy, Twist, Lucious, C-Sharp and others, but the program really took shape when producer Natty Beats brought his skills and expertise to the Ground Up program. The program benefitted greatly through staff with musical backgrounds, as well as youth work.

The Studio is currently staffed by Keith “DT” Sweeney the artist developer, producer, and touring artist, and Joscelyn “Blasian” Gokool an engineer, and producer, also a former participant of the program. Gokool was able to utilize it to build an opportunity for herself to work at the studio, now mentoring young artists.

The program is complete with workshops on the music industry, stage presence, media training, music production and the recording arts. Through the development stages, artists are trained on the necessities of understanding the music industry, creating their artist biography, press kits, and the understanding of how to write, record and create music.

The Ground Up program is open to those between the ages of 15 to 30, and centers around a holistic view of artistic development. Registration is open to residents of the city of Toronto. Some youth participants have gone on to become touring artists, writers, music producers, and even youth workers. Others have also gone on to higher education in the music field. Besides music, the program has helped some youth looking to learn about photography, videography, acting, management, and event planning.  A few of the artists we have developed have been able to go on tours and open for some major artists in Canada, The US, and the Caribbean.

Each participant completing the program will have a greater understanding of the music industry, learn the components required to run a successful music career, get at least two songs recorded, write and design a full artist biography, and have the opportunity to learn how to put on a great performance. At the Ground Up, the goal is not to make famous artists, but artists that understand the work required to be a successful independent artist.

The Ground up program is an opportunity to not only learn, but also network with upcoming artists, and producers, as well as meet some industry management contacts. For more information on the Ground Up music program you can visit the music studio at the Falstaff Community Centre between the hours of 2pm to 9pm  and speak to the staff.


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