By Aaron Blevins, 9/27/2012
Celebrities band together to keep music alive in schools
If there was any doubt that the students of Rosewood Avenue Elementary School loved music, it was erased after the student body carefully rushed the stage twice during a concert last week.
The concert on Sept. 20 was held to launch a partnership between Little Kids Rock and Adopt the Arts, an organization that has been supplementing the music programs at Rosewood with donations of funding and musical instruments. The two entities also announced that they would be putting 10,000 instruments into the hands of Los Angeles Unified School District students over the next three years.
“We’re going to twenty-five more schools so kids can all play music together,” Little Kids Rock executive director and founder David Wish told the audience. “Isn’t that awesome?”
Actors John Stamos and Johnathon Schaech, actress Illeana Douglas and several other celebrities helped celebrate. Former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum, who co-founded Adopt the Arts, performed for the students alongside the Pio Pico Stage Band.
“So this is my school, right? I adopted you guys,” Sorum said jokingly. “You’re all my kids. And I love you, and I’m so glad you’re here today.”
Wish said music is very important in one’s education, as music changes people and people change the world. He said it’s key that the “big people” give the “little people” the tools they need to be thoughtful, creative and important citizens.
“The future of the whole world lies not in your hands, but in your creativity,” Wish said. “If you can be a creative thinker and a creative problem solver when you grow up, you can solve all of the world’s problems using your creativity. Who caused all the problems in the world, the grown-ups or the kids?”
The students emphatically screamed, “Grown-ups!” Wish added that it is up to the students to fix the problems, and music is a “wonderful” way for the students to foster their creativity, which is a necessary component of problem solving.
He added that more than 60,000 LAUSD students will benefit from the thousands of instruments the two organizations will donate. He said Little Rids Rock and Adopt the Arts will donate 1,000 instruments this month. A mountain of new guitars served as the backdrop to the concert stage.
The Miramonte Elementary School band, The Big Deal, performed two songs — “I Got A Feeling”, by the Black Eyed Peas, and “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” — for the students. The Pio Pico Stage Band then performed an original song before having Sorum join them for “Sweet Child o’ Mine”. On two occasions, teachers had to usher students back to their seats.
The enthusiasm at Rosewood is justified. Students at the elementary school have benefitted from being an Adopt the Arts’ pilot school since the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year. The organization’s executive director, Abigail Berman, has children who attend Rosewood, and Sorum is her neighbor.
Adopt the Arts remodeled the school’s music room, and through the pilot program, each Rosewood student has an opportunity to learn how to play the drums, guitar or keyboard, principal Linda Crowder said.
Due to budget cuts, the school was in danger of losing its music teacher, Abby Loces. However, Adopt the Arts stepped in to fund the position, and Loces is now presenting the Little Kids Rock curriculum. She is also beginning an afterschool program.
“I have a happy campus,” Crowder said, adding that Thursday’s event was a success. “That really set the tone for their appreciation of the arts, just in general.”
She said music is an integral part of one’s education, and can help students remain engaged in the classroom. For example, those who excel in music typically have a better understanding of math, Crowder said.
“Most kids do well by having the arts integrated into the curriculum,” she added.