LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2021 Grants Challenge

Modern Band Music Education

Little Kids Rock’s modern band program unlocks students’ inner music makers! Using the music that kids already know and love (styles like pop, hip hop, and Latin), modern band empowers students to play their favorite songs within minutes of picking up an instrument; boosting self-confidence, improving school attendance, and giving them the tools for a lifelong healthy, creative self-expression. By training additional teachers to launch modern band programs, more kids in LA County will have access to diverse, student-centered music education.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Music education must be accessible and relevant to be effective. Research shows that, even in schools that can offer music programs, 80% of students will leave as soon as it becomes an elective. Little Kids Rock first increases accessibility by addressing financial barriers to music education. In LAUSD, 72% of students qualify for free/reduced-fee lunch. When buying groceries is a challenge, getting lessons outside of school is nearly impossible, so in-school offerings are essential to providing a creative outlet to kids. We increase participation by building a curriculum that is relevant to, and as diverse as the students we serve. In LAUSD, nearly 75% of students are Latinx, meaning the majority of students are not represented by traditional music classes. By teaching today’s most popular music genres—including hip hop, Latin, and R&B, which were largely pioneered by people of color—students who feel represented by these genres get the means to express themselves and be heard.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

Little Kids Rock’s modern band program prepares teachers to incorporate popular genres into their music classes by providing them with professional development, curricula, and classroom resources. Because Little Kids Rock invests directly in district teachers, modern band is offered during the school day and at no cost to all the students that teacher reaches. This highly sustainable model allows the program to grow each year as new students immediately fill the seats of recent graduates. During the 2021-2022 school year, Little Kids Rock will train and equip up to 30 new modern band teachers, to reach 3,000+ additional students. Grant funds will support up to two certification workshops for new teachers, such as our “Modern Band 101” or “Digital Songwriting and Production” series. Courses will be held online or in-person as current health guidelines allow. Los Angeles County is currently one of our largest program markets, serving approximately 16,000 students annually through the efforts of 160 teachers. LAUSD administrators facilitate the recruitment of teachers to participate in our workshops, and many LAUSD teachers have become modern band ambassadors who mentor new teachers. Workshops are open to any teacher who expresses their interest, but our district partners help us identify high-needs schools that would benefit from targeted recruitment. For an overview of our current program schools, find a LA County Impact Map here:

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 190

Indirect Impact: 19,000

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Little Kids Rock believes that music is best learned experientially. This means modern band provides students with hands-on experiences with an instrument and opportunities to collaborate with their peers. By emphasizing songwriting and improvisation, kids learn to use music as a tool for self-expression. Based on historical data, we anticipate the following outcomes in students who participate in modern band: • 85% will feel happier and/or more confident • 85% will want to come to school • 80% will be more likely to express themselves In the long-term, we aim to use modern band to address systemic inequities in education. We seek to provide alternate avenues for music education for students without instruments at home, ways to integrate music production technology into music education, and opportunities for students of color to express themselves through their music-making. We believe that this approach will make music education more diverse, inclusive, and equitable.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Since launching LA County’s first modern band program in 2004, Little Kids Rock has provided 4,200 PD hours to 345 teachers to bring engaging music instruction to kids. To measure our qualitative impact, we conduct classroom site visits (as current health guidelines permit), solicit teacher feedback, and require program teachers complete an annual survey on student, teacher, and school outcomes. In response to this survey, students have shared: • “My confidence grew, and I completed one of my life goals which was learning how to play the guitar.” • “I like the band because it is fun working with other kids. It's fun to get to know each other.” • “I like that it gives me an excuse to be myself in front of people.” Countless studies have shown that music education enhances students’ creative thinking, emotional development, and intellectual curiosity, among other benefits. Modern band’s collaborative, hands-on approach amplifies these benefits through student-centered instruction.

Which of the LEARN metrics will you impact?​

Arts education

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

LA is the best place to CREATE