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Cirque Du Soleil
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Patricia Barber
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Cirque Du Soleil
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Jim Pearce
“Why I Haven't Got You”
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Time Line
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Anoushka Shankar

Amos Lee
"Arms Of A Woman"
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Julius Curcio
"American Pie"
Alligator Shoes
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"Come Alive"
Changing Into Me
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Feature [Issue #2]
Little Kids Rock: Teaching You The Four R's: Readin', Ritin', Rithmetic, Rock!
By Pat Mavromatis

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 musicteacher. 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, hint - on 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 over Southern California," says Dave. "Los Angeles and the surrounding area is an important place for Little Kids Rock. L.A. is the heart of the entertainment industry and a natural and necessary focus for our program."

Even though Little Kids Rock is definitely making a difference it still remains an after-school program but Dave hopes that will eventually change. "When people hear the music these kids are creating, they are sincerely impressed with the product," he says. "My 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.

Teaching You The Four R's: Readin', Ritin', Rithmetic, Rock! Little Kids Rock

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Ready For The Four Rs? Readin', Ritin', Rithmetic, Rock!

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