Little Kids Rock
|Headquarters||Cedar Grove, NJ|
|Key people||David Wish, Founder|
Little Kids Rock is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that benefits music education in disadvantaged public schools across the country. They do this by providing free instruments and lessons to children in under-served communities by training public schools students in its unique and innovative curriculum, and then donating all of the instruments and resources necessary to run a rockin' music program in their schools that focuses on teaching kids to perform, improvise and compose popular music. The organization is supported by a number of music industry luminaries including Bonnie Raitt, Slash, Lady Gaga, Steven Van Zandt, Joe Satriani, BB King, Jason Newsted, Linkin Park's Brad Delson, Bob Weir, Ziggy Marley, Paul Simon, Steve Vai, Carmine Appice, Liberty DeVitto, Stefan Lessard, Glen Hansard, Mike Stone of Queensrÿche, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Rick Springfield, Jesse McCartney, Dave Mason, Gregg Rolie, Marcus Henderson, Joshua Radin, Dave Mustaine and more.
Little Kids Rock's mission is to transform children's lives by restoring and revitalizing music education in public schools throughout the United States.
Little Kids Rock formally became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2002. However, the roots of the program date back to 1996 when David Wish, an elementary school teacher, began giving free guitar lessons to his students. After a short time, he started recruiting other volunteers to help him with his efforts. In 2002, he left the classroom to found Little Kids Rock, bringing the grassroots program from San Francisco to New York and taking it to several other cities in the following years.
The Little Kids Rock Program
Little Kids Rock brings popular instruments (i.e. acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, drums, bass, etc.) to schools serving high concentrations of low-income students, enhancing the schools’ capacity to bring music education to children who otherwise might not have access. The Little Kids Rock method helps align music education with contemporary musical styles and trends, emphasizing music that the students are already familiar with, including: rock, funk, blues and hip-hop. Heavy emphasis is placed upon composition, improvisation and recording.
In addition to providing free music instruction in public schools, Little Kids Rock also offers free lessons to the general public through www.littlekidsrock.org.
Pedagogy and Curriculum
Little Kids Rock may be partly understood as an educational reform initiative. The pedagogy is informed by ideas from scholars whose work is familiar to schoolteachers from their professional training. The Little Kids Rock methodology is rooted in linguist Dr. Stephen Krashen’s five theories of second-language acquisition, and educational theorist John Dewey’s student centered learning ideas on the subject of student-centered curricula.
Little Kids Rock's pedagogy is similar in some ways to ideas expressed by music education reformers such as Suzuki and Orff. Both of these pioneers argued that reading music was a skill to be broached by students only after they had developed facility on an instrument. By weaving these ideas together with the theories propounded by Krashen and Dewey, Little Kids Rock has synthesized its own, unique pedagogy.