Little Kids Rock:
Ready For The Four Rs? Readin', Ritin', Rithmetic, Rock! By
Coast To Coast
Little Kids Rock)
Imagine you are a
musician. Now imagine you are an educator. Now imagine that you live in a country
where music education in public schools has gone from bad to worse in just a few
years. But wait . . . you don't have to imagine that. If you live in the U.S.
this is the truth. A sorry state of affairs, really! So, what do you do? Well,
if you are Dave Wish you start your own music program, you name it Little Kids
Rock, and off you go!
It all started back
in 1996 with Dave watching a Django Reinhardt video. The French gypsy guitar legend
inspired numerous kids to pick up the guitar and start playing and the skill that
these self-taught youngsters displayed fascinated Dave (it is amazing what children
can do with the right motivation.) So, Dave, teaching 2nd grade in San Francisco's
Bay Area during the day and playing jazz at night, called some of his musician
friends to see if they would donate some of their old instruments that they were
not using so he can give them to the kids at this school. And that was the birth
of Little Kids Rock.
I bet you are thinking about students staying around after school, sitting in
circles singing "Polly Wolly Doodle" and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider"
aren't you? Well, at least that's what was happening in the beginning when the
school finally hired a part-time music teacher.
But Dave knew that kids nowadays are exposed to a variety of media and have the
capacity to absorb more complex material. "They could sing popular songs
by heart . . . [and] pick up on what their older brothers and sisters [were] listening
to. They became interested in a variety of genres that [weren't] represented in
the school program," says Dave. "The songs being taught in the classroom
weren't connecting on that level. I knew we were missing something."
So Dave started teaching kids to not only play their favorite songs but also to
write and perform their own compositions. And he did not do it the conventional
way. He just let them do it. "You learn by doing," says Dave. "It's
more motivational that way. It's more inspirational to make music than to learn
about notes." His recipe for Little Kids Rock is "Suzuki [after the
famed Japanese violinist/teacher who created a similar method in the 50s] meets
the Rolling Stones meets Dr. Seuss all in a blender.
And Dave did not stop there. With the assistance of Alfred Publishing and NAMM
(International Music Products Association), and the guiding light of honorary
board members and strong supporters Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, Carlos Santana, Manuel
Barrueco, String Cheese Incident, Jim Campilongo, and the late John Lee Hooker,
as well as other mentors/volunteers that participate in the program he also helped
the kids record their songs and released them on CD (actually three of them so
far, which are available for purchase--hint, hintÑon www.littlekidsrock.org).
In Los Angeles,
Little Kids Rock has trained music mentors at Third Street Elementary School through
their semi-annual workshops in California. "Our hope is to get more interest
in the LA area so we can bring the free gift of music education to children in
public schools all of Southern California," says Dave. "Los Angeles
and the surrounding area is an important place for Little Kids Rock. LA is the
heart of the entertainment industry and a natural and necessary focus for our
Little Kids Rock is definitely making a difference it still remains an after-school
program but Dave hopes that will eventually change. ÒWhen people hear the
music these kids are creating, they are sincerely impressed with the product,Ó
he says. ÒMy goal is that Little Kids Rock will stem the tide of budget
cutbacks and help reestablish music education in the schools, and that our approach
will be widely adopted.
We really hope
that your goal becomes reality. Thanks for what you do for our kids Dave.
How You Can Help
Make a cash
All cash donations to our program are 100% tax deductible.
time or services
You can make a valuable contribution to Little Kids Rock by volunteering your
time or services. We are always looking for new ways to get people involved
with our program!
Do you have an old guitar, bass, drum-set, keyboard or microphone which is just
gathering dust? We can put your old musical instrument into the hands of youngster
who'll make good use of it.
Becoming a music mentor is one of the most personal ways to get involved with
Little Kids Rock. Our mentors share a desire to give the gift of music to young
Coast To Coast
Little Kids Rock