At Little Kids Rock, every student is a music-maker. More than 400,000 kids served in 29 cities. Read these inspirational kids’ stories and learn how music education transforms children’s lives!
Below is a blog post written by Jared Rock, a high school senior and musician from New York City. Jared volunteered at one of Little Kids Rock's free teacher trainings and got an up-close-and-personal look at what the city's music teachers do in their spare time to ensure that all of their students have access to the most engaging, rockin' music lessons available! "On May 21, I went to NYU to attend an Amp Up NYC workshop in which teachers were provided with resources and training to implement the organization’s Modern Band music programs in their classrooms..."READ MORE
March is national Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM). Since 1985, this month-long celebration of the transformative power of music has raised awareness for music in our schools. Music Empowers. Music Heals. Music Connects Us. Music Changes Lives. And this year’s MIOSM theme: MUSIC INSPIRES!READ MORE
At Park Place Middle School, an empty music classroom waits to be used to it’s full potential. Principal Glenda Esperance wants to expand the music program, but with a small budget for more resources and no music teacher to build the curriculum, she didn’t know where to begin. That is, until she hired Catherine Plichta.READ MORE
For most kids who grow up in communities like the projects of Culver City West in Los Angeles, graduating from high school and going to college is an unattainable dream. However, Venice High School’s music teacher, Wendy Sarnoff, has changed this stereotype.
Wendy, who took over and continued the rich legacy of Venice High School’s music program in 2011, has ensured several students full scholarships to summer music programs and college whether the kids majored in music or not...READ MORE
Budget cuts threaten the existence of inner city school music departments across the US every year, but when Vivian Gonzalez learned that South Miami K-8 School, the school that fostered her lifelong love of music, was in danger of going silent, she decided to return to her alma mater to help save the program that had a huge impact on her life.
“I was a middle school teacher for six years,” she says. “When I realized how vitally important elementary music education was for the middle school, high school and college music programs, so I ‘demoted’ myself, gave myself a large pay cut, and committed to being an elementary school music teacher.”READ MORE
We’ve all dreamed about being a rock star just like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, or Taylor Swift. But in Krista Fanning’s music class at Caddo Middle Magnet School in Shreveport, Louisiana, her kids don’t dream of becoming rock stars… they tap into the rock star that already lives within them!
Every year, students come into her class a little bit scared, not knowing what to expect, but at the end of the year they leave as music makers who’ve learned to listen to and create music, primarily with the guitar.READ MORE
Lights, Camera, Action! The curtain rises and onstage stands Sharkapella, an a cappella group made up of high school students who regularly return to Franklin L. Williams Middle School to work with their former middle school teacher, John Flora. They are poised and ready to blow the crowd away with their incredible voices. John smiles proudly from a distance as his current middle school students watch their old classmates with admiration.READ MORE
A suggestion box sits on a table in the music room at Marie Curie Middle School in New York City. As music teacher Jennifer Schecter reaches in to read the daily suggestions, she finds a familiar request: a beginner guitar class. Unfortunately, Jennifer does not specialize in guitar and thus, does not know how to teach it.
Knowing that her students wanted to learn to play guitar, and that her main goal was to engage them in making music, she decided to do something about it. Jennifer took the initiative and attended one of Little Kids Rock’s training sessions, where she learned how to play the guitar, teach music as a second language, and to meet students where they are by teaching them the music they know and love.READ MORE
Here’s a scene you don’t see very often: a line of an inner city public school students standing outside of a classroom eagerly waiting for their teacher to let them in and begin class.
It’s no secret that there are students that have no interest in taking a music class or learning how to play an instrument. However, after introducing Little Kids Rock’s methods, curriculum and instruments to his music program, Chris Alberts has been able to reach more kids than ever before, and much more quickly. Now, students who would not have normally joined the music program are choosing to participate. Kids wanting to be a part of an elective class is a rarity these days… a true testament to Chris’s teaching style.READ MORE
This summer, the Senate debated rewriting the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as The Every ChildAchieves Act S.1177) and on July 15, 2015, they voted to pass and reauthorize this bill at an overwhelming majority of 86-12 with some new and exciting changes to the music education world.
But just how much or little of an impact will this have on music education? Bob Morrison, CEO of Quadrant Research, illuminated exactly how the bill would and would not impact music education...READ MORE
While sitting in the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City for Little Kids Rock’s annual Big Kids Rock battle of the bands fundraiser about to judge a musical performance featuring Guns N’ Roses guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal and his double neck guitar, 18 year-old Max Sperber reflected on his days in middle school when this scenario was little more than a dream.
Max described himself in three ways when he was in middle school: A musician, music lover, and an outsider. The lack of an official music program at his school left Max without a vehicle to connect with other students.READ MORE
Imagine that you have the unenviable task of deciding which program to cut from your child’s school. Which do you choose?
More often than not, to the dismay of parents and teacher, the answer is music and/or arts programs.
“83% of teachers and 73% of parents say budget cuts in music education are detrimental to students?” On May 19, 2015, the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation (NAMM) and Grunwald Associates LLC, released a new report surrounding the hopes and beliefs parents and teachers have about music education.READ MORE
At just ten years old, Daphcar Séjour is a strong girl who is out to prove that playing the drums isn’t just for boys.
Teachers who have known her since she was five years old describe her as a very enthusiastic, gentle, obedient, and intelligent girl. She says she wants to prove to her community that drums aren’t only a boy’s instrument, and that a girl can make a difference. It is her desire to be a positive example for others in her community.READ MORE
“Who’s your favorite rock star?” a trainer asks a room full of music teachers as an icebreaker to begin Little Kids Rock’s Modern Band workshop.
“John Lennon.” “Jimi Hendrix.” “Whitney Houston.”
As teachers rattled off their favorite songwriters, musicians and singers, Jen Theilacker stood up and proudly declared, “My favorite rock star is my student, Lamiya.”READ MORE
Epic drum-off between Chad Smith and Will Ferrell on Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon raises money for charity
Nearly 14 years after the famous "more cowbell" SNL skit, comedian Will Ferrell was challenged to a drum-off by Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, with whom he is often confused.
The look-a-likes met on NBC's "The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon" for a celebrity drum-off to raise money for charity and to prove who is actually the better percussionist.READ MORE
"As a volunteer at Little Kids Rock two summers ago, I was fortunate to be exposed to the incredible impact music has on children. Reflecting on my background in classical music, I was surprised to find that my own experience was not unlike the transformation countless children experience every day through Little Kids Rock."READ MORE
Alexis Ford unlocked her inner music-maker at the age of ten in her fourth grade Little Kids Rock class at Ashland City Elementary School, where she learned to play piano, guitar and sing. That ten-year-old girl never dreamed that a few years later, she’d be competing as a finalist in a singing competition on a major radio station in Nashville, TN.
Her Little Kids Rock teacher, LeNaye Pearson, remembers how Alexis was transformed by music...READ MORE
The House of Blues Hollywood was packed with Pantera fans who had gathered to pay tribute to their recently gunned down guitar God, Darrell Abbott. High school student Areli Morales stood backstage preparing to sing before the largest crowd she had ever seen.
“As I stood there in front of the sea of metal music lovers, I feared that I might somehow forget my lines and dishonor Darrell and my band,” Areli said, remembering her experience on that transformative night. “But I took a deep breath, focused on the moment and a rush of energy filled me. I made the best of that moment.”READ MORE
Imagine yourself in 6th grade. The final bell rings and you hustle to the auditorium for your favorite part of the day... band practice!
You set up your keyboard and set up next to the guitarists and the drummer. You run through the latest song that you and your bandmates have been rehearsing for the past week - Brave by Josh Groban. Then, your Little Kids Rock teacher uncharacteristically asks you all to come off the stage and sit in the seats facing the stage.
Then, before you can ask what is going on, a special visitor walks through the door...READ MORE
Not everyone is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument, especially those in marginalized communities. For many children, public school music programs are the best and only option.
A former Little Kids Rock student from San Francisco named Tristan, now 17 years old, was surrounded by music from a young age because of her father, who was a musician. At the age of 7, Tristan’s father gave her a guitar with the intention of teaching her how to play it. However, before he could pass on the lifelong gift of music education to his daughter, he passed away. Since this earth-shattering day, Tristan has made music an integral part of her life.READ MORE
Nancy had a rough time in school. She was often teased and bullied because of a speech impediment she’d had as far back as she could remember. The other students were often merciless. “It’s pretty hard to have a problem with your speech,” Nancy shares, “because when you try to talk to people, they make fun of you if your speech is off.” Nancy had a lot to say. She just couldn’t say it. Until she picked up a guitar...READ MORE
In a lot of the neighborhoods that Little Kids Rock serves, gangs are very prevalent – and so is the pressure to join them. If our kids are going to join a group, we’d rather it be a band, then a gang!
Several Little Kids Rock students at Andrew Jackson School in Philadelphia stay after school, and even convene in the summer. They formed a band called HOME, which is very fitting because in that three-hour window from 3 – 6 pm, when kids are out of school and parents are at work, Little Kids Rock teacher Chris Argerakis has created an environment at his school that has been like a second home for these kids.READ MORE
“Hold onto me, never let go... I’ll be here by your side, every second of our time. Hold onto me, never let go.”
14-year old Yancy wrote these lyrics in hopes that her song would save the life of Marcus Kanye, a young man who had developed a life-threatening disease. Even though she had never met her mother’s coworker, Yancy felt a unique connection to Marcus and wanted to give him hope.READ MORE
A classroom full of 6th grade students in Chicago play the opening chords to Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll" and 800 miles away in lower Manhattan, another group of kids joins them for a jam session via video-conference. Both classes were just outfitted with brand new Epiphone Les Paul electric guitars, compliments of the Les Paul Foundation. "This is the best class of the day," says Alejandro, a student at Lower Manhattan Community Middle School.READ MORE
Little Kids Rock Alumnus Quinton Richardson Reveals His Unique Relationship with Guitar Legend, Randy Rhoads
In sixth grade, Quinton Richardson played a guitar solo that would alter the course of his life. Rhoads and Richardson never met, and though Richardson’s musical taste is moving further from the heavy metal solo that won him his first guitar, he and Rhoads are forever connected by one thing – a passion for music that drove them both to hone their skills and become rock stars, on stage and off.READ MORE
Many parents want one thing for their children: to provide them with more opportunities than they had when they were kids. Ignacio Arrendondo decided to honor the sacrifices his father made for him by making his father's dream of becoming a musician into his own dream. Little Kids Rock helped make that happen...READ MORE
High School student, Karol Krynski, moved from Poland to the United States, speaking a limited amount of English. Edward Espinosa, who hails from the Dominican Republic, found himself in a similar situation. After just two years in the Little Kids Rock music program at Grover Cleveland High School, Edward explains how “music changes how you look at the world. Music makes us all come together … like a family.”READ MORE
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer Darlene Love stepped out in front of the microphone and, to her surprise, the audience exploded with deafening cheers and applause. This audience was a classroom filled with nearly 50 pre-teens from Franklin L. Williams Middle School in Jersey City, NJ that participate in Little Kids Rock’s free music program, and they all stayed after the final bell had rung, just to meet her.READ MORE
By fourth grade, Phil Cruz had become accustomed to being picked on by the neighborhood kids. Saddest of all, his older brother PJ was among the bullies. But while the bullies laughed, Phil joined the Little Kids Rock program at Gibsonton Elementary. With support and encouragement from his Little Kids Rock teacher, Mr. Johns, Phil practiced guitar and built up his confidence to the point where he was able to stand in the spotlight onstage at his school talent show, performing in front of those same bullies, who now cheered for him. And his big brother, who didn’t have Phil’s back, now backed him on the drums.READ MORE
Nishang Jiang recalls being forced to sit at the piano and practice for hours as a young child in China, and not enjoying it. One time, she threw her sheet music on the floor out of frustration. However, Nishang’s musical world was rocked when she moved to Jersey City, NJ just three months ago and enrolled in a Little Kids Rock class.READ MORE
“The Red Rocker” Sammy Hagar will join his Chickenfoot bandmate, Joe Satriani, and The Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo at a music-filled evening that will celebrate a decade of service to America’s youth and raise funds to give the gift of music to thousands of additional children. READ MORE
How do you express your emotions? Do you go for a run? Paint? How about writing a song? At the age of eight, Aaliyah Baez experienced a life-changing event - she lost her father. Songwriting has since become a creative outlet for her to express her feelings. “Writing a song about my father and sharing it made me feel better,” said Aaliyah, now 14. She wrote “Daddy’s Little Girl” as a way to cope with the hardship of becoming a teenager without a father.READ MORE
Do you ever wish you could communicate with someone without using words? Talk telepathically, or have a conversation with your eyes? At Little Kids Rock, we believe that this is possible when you understand the language of music and the art of the jam.READ MORE
More than a decade ago, Carlos Santana's Milagro Foundation made a donation of a dozen electric guitars to an underfunded classroom in California. That donation helped launch the largest, free instrumental music program in the U.S. public schools - Little Kids Rock! The Milagro Foundation further enhanced Little Kids Rock's service to schoolchildren nationwide with a gift of 600 more guitars, made possible by the Hermes Music Foundation. And to bring this support full circle, an elementary school in Los Angeles that will host all of the city's Little Kids Rock free teacher trainings, was recently renamed Carlos Santana Arts Academy and the legend himself was there for the renaming ceremony!READ MORE
The Rock Round Up is an ongoing blog series featuring the most evocative news, articles and blog curated by Little Kids Rock on the topic of music education. October means students are back in school and beginning another exciting (and musically charged) school year. We know you are busily involved with homework and extracurricular activities, so we’ve found some eye-grabbing news on music education.READ MORE
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Neil Diamond once said, “Performing is the easiest part of what I do, and songwriting is the hardest.” No doubt, songwriting remains one of the most challenging, yet rewarding tasks musicians face in their careers. “When I sing my own song, I feel unique, because I know that nobody else in the world has another song that’s like mine,” says ten-year-old Little Kids Rock student.READ MORE
In the midst of summer, July is the time of year many families and educators are celebrating independence, BBQs and rockin’ out to good music! To keep everyone up-to-date while you’re out having fun, we’ve combed the web to bring you this month’s most intriguing stories about music education. Enjoy!READ MORE
Learning to play a musical instrument can be a transformational experience in a student’s life. So can sharing it. The term “Jam Summit” most literally means the highest point to which a jam session is produced. For the kids enrolled in our Little Kids Rock program, the Jam Summit is equivalent to “performing at Radio City Music Hall,” says Little Kids Rock Ambassador, Eddie Hager.READ MORE
At Little Kids Rock HQ, we get to see tons of great pictures and videos every day of kids learning to play music – and then performing for their friends, families and communities. So when the school year came to a close, we were proud to hear about the thousands of kids showing off their hard work in the end of the year rock concerts across the country.READ MORE
When third grade teacher, Jose Vergara, received free training and instruments from Little Kids Rock, his students thought their dreams had come true. They never dreamed that they could be learning to play Black Eyed Peas songs on the guitar in school! Dreams they never thought they had were realized when The Black Eyed Peas' Taboo surprised them by delivering 10 Fender® electric guitars to their school and joined them onstage to perform "I Gotta Feeling."READ MORE
At Caddo Magnet High School in Shreveport, LA, recent graduate Nick Tingle was commonly known as “Little Kenny” – an homage to the school’s most notable alumnus, rock star Kenny Wayne Shepherd. “In Shreveport, he’s an icon,” said Tingle of his blues guitar role model, with whom he had the opportunity to share the stage at the annual Shreveport Artbreak music festival.READ MORE
A hush fell over the eager crowd of students, teachers and parents gathered in the darkened auditorium of I.S. 162 in the Bronx. When the lights came up, the room shook with thunderous cheers, as nearly 50 elementary school students from neighboring P.S. 11 burst into Taylor Swift’s hit song, “Love Story.” The synchronous strumming of dozens of guitars kicked off the second annual Little Kids Rock New York City Jam Summit, which featured more than 100 students, ages 8 to 18, from eight New York City Public Schools.READ MORE
On Fridays, kids often watch the clock in eager anticipation of the end of the school week. This was not the case at Franklin L. Williams Middle School in Jersey City last Friday. John Flora's Little Kids Rock students instead waited eagerly for two famous bassists to arrive and rock their worlds. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame funk superstar, Bootsy Collins (Parliament-Funkadelic and James Brown) and hip hop legend, Brian Hardgroove (Public Enemy), walked into a classroom full of smiling faces, tuned-up instruments, and the future rockstars who play them!READ MORE
Accomplished bassist Jon E. Gee had a day off before his concert with John Mellencamp at Radio City Music Hall in NYC and wanted to find something to do to fill the vacancy in his schedule. He decided to team up with Little Kids Rock to help fill a vacancy at PS 98 Shorac Kappock in Manhattan, where children have been learning to play guitar and write their own songs... with no bass guitar!READ MORE
Though Bernie Williams left baseball to pursue a music career, he is still a fan favorite. He recently visited IS 162 - Lola Rodriguez De Tio Academy of Future Technologies, a Little Kids Rock school in the Bronx, to deliver ten acoustic guitars and two electrics guitars to Allan Adkison's music class. He jammed with the kids on "We Will Rock You" and "Stir It Up," answered lots of questions about music and even a few about baseball, stating that music was actually his first love!READ MORE
One year ago, other children described Akil as the kid who didn’t speak. Now, they describe him as the kid who speaks with his guitar! Akil is a 10-year-old Philadelphia student who suffers from Selective Mutism Disorder. He has not uttered a word in school since he began attending. Aside from making his academic life difficult, Akil’s disorder makes social interaction nearly impossible.READ MORE
It's a brand new day for music education. Rising star Joshua Radin has visited LKR classrooms in six cities (Atlanta, Nashville, Tampa, Philadelphia, New York City and San Francisco) to give a guest lesson in which he taught the kids how to play his hit song, “Brand New Day.”READ MORE
Jade Adams of Jersey City, NJ wrote an original composition called "Change" and thought her dreams came true when she received her very own electric guitar and amp from Little Kids Rock. She never even considered how many more amazing opportunities would follow…READ MORE
The season finale of NBC’s hit a capella contest show “The Sing Off” featured Little Kids Rock students from East Los Angeles. One of four finalist groups, Street Corner Symphony, visited students from Belvedere Middle School and presented the students with 12 new Squier Bullet electric guitars donated by Fender.READ MORE