The Little Kids Rock Blog

Stories from the front lines of music education innovation.

Happy World Music Day!

Happy World Music Day!

Little Kids Rock is happy to share the gift of music with children across the world. Check out our ongoing collaboration with Music Heals International in Haiti.READ MORE

JamFest Los Angeles Closes 2016-17 School Year with a Bang!

JamFest Los Angeles Closes 2016-17 School Year with a Bang!

When hundreds of students come together to play the music they know and love in one of the most renowned venues in LA, they are bound to end their school year on a high note. With support from Southern California-based Jack in the Box, students from more than 20 LAUSD schools took the stage at the Roxy Theatre for two shows on May 6th and May 20th.READ MORE

NYC Teachers Create a Place of Collaboration and Caring with Modern Band Concert

NYC Teachers Create a Place of Collaboration and Caring with Modern Band Concert

The New York City District 75 Modern Band Festival brought students together for a day of celebration, collaboration, and music making.READ MORE

Big Kids Rock, A Big Success for Chicago Public School Students, Poised to Break Records with Matching Gift!

Big Kids Rock, A Big Success for Chicago Public School Students, Poised to Break Records with Matching Gift!

Nearly $100,000 was raised at the third annual Chicago-based benefit through ticket sales, donations, and a live auction that included items like a personalized, private dinner from Eddie V's, Cubs vs. Yankees field level tickets and access to batting practice with Ryan Dempster, and an autographed guitar, amplifier, and meet-and-greet with the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and club owner, Buddy Guy! When a $100,000 matching gift was announced toward the end of the event, the donations continued to roll in well after the night ended.READ MORE

Share Your #MusicInspires Moment This March!

Share Your #MusicInspires Moment This March!

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

Big Kids Rock NYC 2017 - Meet the Bands!

Big Kids Rock NYC 2017 - Meet the Bands!

There are only two weeks until three awesome New York City bands take the stage to help raise funds for music education. Let's get pumped for this fast-paced fundraiser by meeting the competition!READ MORE

Big Kids Rock Chicago 2017 - Meet the Bands!

Big Kids Rock Chicago 2017 - Meet the Bands!

There are only two weeks until three awesome Chicago bands take the stage to help raise funds for music education. Let's get pumped for this fast-paced fundraiser by meeting the competition!READ MORE

Wilson Middle School Students 'Tear Up' Glendale for Kenny Loggins' Special Visit and Instrument Donation

Wilson Middle School Students 'Tear Up' Glendale for Kenny Loggins' Special Visit and Instrument Donation

Wilson Middle School Stage Class got a visit from Kenny Loggins during a special visit by the iconic American singer and songwriter to the Glendale school in Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. Loggins gave the class tips about the music world and unveiled brand new instruments donated to the school after he helped raise $1.1 million at national nonprofit Little Kids Rock's benefit in New York City recently.READ MORE

Little Kids Rock Pays Tribute to Music Greats During Black History Month

Little Kids Rock Pays Tribute to Music Greats During Black History Month

Every February our country celebrates and honors the achievements of black Americans and their great effect on the history of our nation. This month Little Kids Rock is highlighting the black musicians who often are underappreciated despite their enormous amount of influence on not just American music, but music around the world. Join us in learning about and jamming to some of the greatest musicians in history!READ MORE

Students from PS149K in Brooklyn Ring in the Chinese New Year Worldwide!

Students from PS149K in Brooklyn Ring in the Chinese New Year Worldwide!

Where can you find a growing Chinese population, a lively Chinese New Year celebration and a class of Little Kids Rock students in rooster masks? Brooklyn, of course!READ MORE

Smokey Robinson Performs with Pio Pico Students and Presents $1M Niagara Cares Donation

Smokey Robinson Performs with Pio Pico Students and Presents $1M Niagara Cares Donation

Students at Pio Pico Middle School in Los Angeles were treated to a very special guest at their Wednesday morning performance when Motown icon, Smokey Robinson, took a seat in the front row of their auditorium. The soulful singer was on-hand to deliver new musical instruments to the school and present a $1 million donation from the Niagara Cares charity to Little Kids Rock.READ MORE

13 Songs to Rock Your Friday the 13th
Pharrell Surprise Performance with Amp Up NYC Students

Pharrell Surprise Performance with Amp Up NYC Students

Pharrell just made a whole bunch of kids ... wait for it ... happy. The R&B superstar surprised a Washington Heights middle school rock band Friday morning by sneaking on stage and grooving along with them during their performance.READ MORE

1,600 Little Kids Rock Students and Teachers Jam at CPS Kickoff Event at Millennium Park
Smokey Robinson and Kenny Loggins Share How Music Changes Lives at Annual Little Kids Rock Benefit
New Documentary Features the work of Little Kids Rock

New Documentary Features the work of Little Kids Rock

Last night, the Sedona International Film Festival joined in the movement to help keep music in schools with special screenings of “Play: The Documentary.” The film was created in hopes of inspiring more people to play music. The documentary was shot in locations all over the United States, in addition to captivating footage from Ireland, over the course of two years and features over 40 musicians each playing their particular instrument and discussing their perception of the personal impact of playing music.READ MORE

Little Kids Rock Hits The

Little Kids Rock Hits The "Big Screen" Thanks to NASDAQ, NLX!

Last week, Little Kids Rock traveled to the heart of New York City to deliver a well-deserved trophy and heartfelt thank you to Nasdaq's high-spirited band, No Latency eXperience (NLX). In return, we were given the opportunity of a lifetime to literally stand seven stories tall as we rang the closing bell in Times Square!READ MORE

Volunteering to make music-making a reality for kids!

Volunteering to make music-making a reality for kids!

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

Share Your #MusicInspires Moment This March!

Share Your #MusicInspires Moment This March!

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

Grammy Music Educator Nominee: Catherine Plichta

Grammy Music Educator Nominee: Catherine Plichta

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

Grammy Music Educator Nominee: Wendy Sarnoff

Grammy Music Educator Nominee: Wendy Sarnoff

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...

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Grammy Music Educator Nominee: Vivian Gonzalez

Grammy Music Educator Nominee: Vivian Gonzalez

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.”

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Grammy Music Educator Nominee: Krista Fanning

Grammy Music Educator Nominee: Krista Fanning

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.

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Grammy Music Educator Nominee: John Flora

Grammy Music Educator Nominee: John Flora

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. 

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Grammy Music Educator Nominee: Jennifer Schecter

Grammy Music Educator Nominee: Jennifer Schecter

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.

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Grammy Music Educator Nominee: Chris Alberts

Grammy Music Educator Nominee: Chris Alberts

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.

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Senate Passes Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Senate Passes Elementary and Secondary Education Act

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...

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 Giving Max The Tools To Build His Musical Future

Giving Max The Tools To Build His Musical Future

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. 

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Striking A Chord

Striking A Chord

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.

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Haitian Girl Proves Drums Aren't Just For Boys

Haitian Girl Proves Drums Aren't Just For Boys

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.

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Student Inspires Teacher To Be Her Best

Student Inspires Teacher To Be Her Best

“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.”

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Facing the World with Music

Facing the World with Music

"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."

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Transformed by a Musical Experience

Transformed by a Musical Experience

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.”

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Josh Groban Surprises Kids With Instruments

Josh Groban Surprises Kids With Instruments

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...

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Little Kids Rock Fulfills A Father's Gift To His Daughter

Little Kids Rock Fulfills A Father's Gift To His Daughter

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.

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Students make music class their HOME

Students make music class their HOME

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.

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800-mile Cross Country Jam Session with The Les Paul Foundation

800-mile Cross Country Jam Session with The Les Paul Foundation

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

The Dreams of Our Fathers

The Dreams of Our Fathers

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

Teens Find Inspiration and Passion for Music Through Little Kids Rock Music Program

Teens Find Inspiration and Passion for Music Through Little Kids Rock Music Program

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

A Tale of Two Brothers

A Tale of Two Brothers

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

Chinese Student Finds Passion for Music in America

Chinese Student Finds Passion for Music in America

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

Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani and Black Eyed Peas' Taboo Celebrate Little Kids Rock's 10th Anniversary

Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani and Black Eyed Peas' Taboo Celebrate Little Kids Rock's 10th Anniversary

“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

Expression Through A Song:

Expression Through A Song: "Daddy's Little Girl"

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

The Language of Music; The Art of the Jam

The Language of Music; The Art of the Jam

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

July Rock Round Up

July Rock Round Up

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

Jammin' Till the Jam is Through

Jammin' Till the Jam is Through

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

The Rock Round Up

The Rock Round Up

Welcome to our very first “Rock Round Up” blog post! While many classrooms are enjoying their summer vacation, we’ve been keeping up on news stories about pressing topics in music education.READ MORE

In Sonoma, the School Year Starts and Ends with Rock n' Roll

In Sonoma, the School Year Starts and Ends with Rock n' Roll

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

The Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo Raps and Little Kids Rock!

The Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo Raps and Little Kids Rock!

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

Little Kids Rock Shepherds

Little Kids Rock Shepherds "Little Kenny Wayne's" Musical Drive

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