The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Helps Little Kids Rock Create “A Real School of Rock” in Classrooms Across America

“It will test your head… and your mind… and your brain, too.”
- Dewey Finn, School of Rock

Fifteen years ago, the feature film School of Rock shined a light on a problem in our schools: too many kids do not have access to or participate in music education that is culturally responsive, highly inclusive, or student-centered. While Jack Black charmed audiences worldwide with his portrayal of teacher Dewey Finn, a national nonprofit called Little Kids Rock was leading a burgeoning movement to help public school teachers acquire the professional development, musical instruments, curricular resources, and district support they needed to teach their kids how to play popular music.

Once dubbed “The Real School of Rock” by CNN, Little Kids Rock has empowered more than 3,000 public school teachers in 45 states to help draw the music out of 650,000+ students, rather than drum it in.

Today, thanks to composer and impresario, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, School of Rock has moved from the screen to the stage on Broadway and touring the nation, sharing its musical message with audiences and supporting the work of school teachers in our schools.

In 2010, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation launched and started a grant program with the objective of supporting the arts, culture, and heritage for public benefit. Little Kids Rock was recently awarded its second grant from the foundation in support of “Music Expanded,” our multi-year partnership with Chicago Public Schools to bring our highly inclusive, culturally responsive, and student centered Modern Band program to scale in the third largest public school district in the country.

While Little Kids Rock uses its new funding to transform lives in Chicago, students in New York City will be treated to a special theatrical experience in the fall. As a result of receiving the Broadway League’s New York Education and Engagement Grant, School of Rock The Musical will bring 30 New York City public school children on a daylong, behind-the-scenes meet-and-greet and jam session with the Broadway cast before seeing the show.

The cast of School of Rock The Musical brought their awesome talent from Broadway to the Little Kids Rock Benefit in 2016, when they opened the show, featuring Smokey Robinson, Kenny Loggins, Tracy Morgan, Sam Moore, Nathan Sykes, Bernie Williams, Paul Shaffer, and Will Lee.

The young Broadway stars felt right at home with Little Kids Rock students from local New York City public schools, all of whom performed on their own instruments that night.

Meanwhile, nearly 1,000 miles away, while screen and stage collided, another young rocker was practicing his guitar riffs to AC/DC’s Back in Black in his Modern Band class in Chicago. He was preparing for a gig at Buddy Guy’s Legends club for Little Kids Rock.

He never realized that he was actually rehearsing for a gig that was beyond his wildest dreams…

Today, Vince Molden, that 11 year-old student, is traveling the country as Zach Mooney in the national School of Rock The Musical tour. After honing his guitar licks and head bangs thanks to the support his school received from Little Kids Rock, his parents signed him up for an open audition for a role in the traveling cast of School of Rock The Musical. While Vince was excited by the prospect of playing on stage for massive audiences, something he’s developed a taste for through Little Kids Rock, he also dreaded the idea of leaving his fellow classmates and bandmates behind. He told his parents he would only do so if he landed a lead role.

Upon receiving the news that he had landed the role, he promptly told his parents he wanted to donate his entire salary to help Little Kids Rock bring the transformational gift of music to more kids like him. His parents, and the Little Kids Rock team, were touched, but ultimately encouraged him to put most of it toward his future college education. Vince did make a donation to Little Kids Rock, and bought brand new instruments for his classmates to use while he is on tour.

So, 15 years after School of Rock debuted in theaters, and 16 years after Little Kids Rock began serving public schools nationwide, the two musical movements continue to coalesce and ensure that more kids make more music that is more relevant to them.

“Now let’s get out there and melt some faces.”
- Dewey Finn, School of Rock