Berklee Collaborates to Expand Music Programs in New York Schools
Berklee College of Music and Little Kids Rock have partnered with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) to expand the district’s Modern Band music program to an additional 60,000 students in 600 city schools. The Amp Up NYC initiative is the largest single private investment in a city’s public school music education program in the history of the United States. The donated services and resources for this initiative are estimated at $10 million. Berklee College of Music and Little Kids Rock will contribute teacher training, Modern Band curriculum, and thousands of new musical instruments. Outside contributors include the Walker Family Foundation and Bohemian Foundation. The program is already live in more than 70 classrooms.
On Friday, March 21, Berklee president Roger H. Brown and Little Kids Rock founder David Wish were joined by representatives from the NYCDOE as well as congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), famed producer and musician Steve Jordan, Saturday Night Live keyboardist and Berklee alumnus Tuffus Zimbabwe, and the first Amp Up NYC students at Lower Manhattan Community School to officially kick off the initiative.
Watch a brief video from the launch event, courtesy of High 5 Productions.
Modern Band music programs teach the music of the past 50 years, from rock and reggae to Latin and R&B, among other genres. They complement existing programs such as jazz, marching band, and orchestral music. Hundreds of certified music teachers will be trained and equipped by Amp Up NYC to bring Modern Band programming to children in grades K-12. Several teachers have already been trained and are running successful Modern Band programs in their schools. Extended day programs will also be offered, and a number of community-based music organizations will adopt the initiative.
“Modern Band leverages our children’s cultural and community experiences and helps us reach more students,” said Paul King, executive director of the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Arts and Special Projects. “In the world of music education, diverse musical experiences enrich kids’ learning and their understanding of the world. Amp Up NYC will certainly bring more and new music-making opportunities to our students and we are delighted to have Little Kids Rock and Berklee College of Music join the many excellent organizations that support music learning for our students.”
Berklee and Little Kids Rock have a long history of educating underserved students using innovative methodologies and popular music styles. Berklee City Music is a community-service branch of the college with after-school classrooms at 45 sites across the country. Little Kids Rock runs the largest, in-school Modern Band program serving more than 1,000 schools in 25 of the nation’s largest public school districts. The partners combined their leading online Modern Band teaching platforms—Berklee College of Music’s PULSE music method and Little Kids Rock’s Teacher Hang—for Amp Up NYC teachers. This new and innovative online Modern Band resource includes lesson plans, tips for classroom management, social media, and classroom portfolios.
Taylor Guitars will contribute SolidBody Custom electric guitars to be distributed to participating classrooms as the initiative rolls out in schools. “Through the work of Little Kids Rock, children across the country are discovering the joy of making music, which studies prove time and time again benefits learning in the core subjects,” says Tim O’Brien, vice president of marketing for Taylor Guitars. “Taylor Guitars is proud to join Little Kids Rock and Berklee College of Music in this new and noble endeavor to Amp Up NYC, and we encourage others in the music community to contribute to this important initiative.”
The Amp Up NYC initiative will serve as a model for building district-wide Modern Band programs in other public school districts in the United States. “We believe that learning to create music not only enriches a student’s academic life, but it can become a lifelong means of self-expression and joy,” says Brown. “Berklee is honored to be part of the effort to support talented music teachers who wish to expand Modern Band programs for New York City students.”