By Laura Ferreiro
Internet radio service Pandora and national music education non-profit Little Kids Rock have joined forces to bring free music lessons and instruments to kids at elementary and middle schools in Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago and New York.
Pandora and Little Kids Rock kicked off the Modern Band music program in Los Angeles at Cienega Elementary School in south Los Angeles on September 25, and the streaming service plans to extend its support to other cities in the coming months.
An auditorium full of boisterous 4th graders rocked out with newly donated instruments including guitars, drum kits and amplifiers, and got their hands dirty doing arts-and-crafts projects including painting maracas and drawing on bandanas with Pandora volunteers.
For a dash of inspiration, French-Canadian singer-songwriter Couer de pirate performed a handful of songs for the kids, who screamed and cheered and asked her to sing in her native French. She obliged, and then performed her tune “The Way Back Home,” which she told the kids she had written for her 3-year-old daughter.
“We wanted to partner with Little Kids Rock to find a way to unleash the power of music in our community,” Marta Riggins, Pandora’s Director of Employee Experience and Marketing, told Music for Good. “Giving back is a part of our mission. It’s a great way for our employees to use their volunteer time, because they get 40 hours of time off each year to volunteer in their communities.”
Little Kids Rock music programs aim to offset diminishing budgets for music education in public schools by partnering with school districts in disadvantaged areas throughout the U.S. to train public school teachers in its innovative music curriculum while donating all of the instruments and resources necessary to run the music programs.
“It was a natural fit to team up with Pandora, because with their help we’ll be able to achieve a lot,” said Tony Sauza, Little Kids Rock regional program director for LA County. “It’s exciting to think of the potential.”
Meanwhile, Little Kids Rock is gearing up for a benefit show honoring Graham Nash, Steve Miller and Paul Shaffer at Manhattan Center on October 20. Click here for more information.