Sweetwater announced its role as a national sponsor for Little Kids Rock, an organization providing music education to 200 school districts around the country, at St. Joseph Central Elementary School Monday afternoon.
Little Kids Rock was founded in 2002, and helps instructors teaching music by providing instruments and curriculum focused on “modern” music -- artists like Taylor Swift and Imagine Dragons. The goal is to integrate songs from popular artists with more traditional instruction in the classical and marching band genres.
Sweetwater President Chuck Surack says the company has been a national sponsor for Little Kids Rock over the last year, helping to raise money and expand the program. As a musician himself, he says he believes in the importance of a young child learning music.
“Whether you’re a musician your whole life, or just learn the skills of music and learning to listen to each other and critique yourself, it causes you to be better in ensembles, to do better in your youth group and in school,” said Surack.
In conjunction with the announcement, Sweetwater also donated new instruments to St. Joseph Central’s music program. This included drums, guitars, amplifiers and more.
St. Joseph Central Elementary music teacher Laura McCoy has worked with Little Kids Rock for the last few years, and says the program has improved the experience with her students.
“I’ve been working several years on beefing up the last 30 years of what’s happened in music, using YouTube and things like that, but I didn’t have the hands-on instruments,” said McCoy. “So now to have them so they can play the instruments, along with the knowledge they have, is phenomenal.”
Despite being the music teacher, McCoy is still learning things along with her students.
“We have a drum kit. I learned at Little Kids Rock training -- I learned this! -- that they call it a ‘trap set’ because if it’s set up right, you’re trapped inside of it,” she added. “Isn’t that cool? I never knew that, I’ve been a music educator for 39 years.”
McCoy says she’s excited by Sweetwater’s sponsorship, and not just because her students have more instruments at their disposal; McCoy and Surack grew up together in Northeast Indiana, and she reminisced on them attending music lessons as kids.
Dave Wish is the CEO of Little Kids Rock. He says his organization has benefited significantly since partnering with Sweetwater.
“We’re literally ordering tens of thousands of instruments, and it gets complicated; one school might want cymbals, ukuleles, a drum set, a guitar, etc., and we get all of that from Sweetwater in a way that’s very generous and makes it easy for us to launch this program in new districts.”
Sweetwater helped facilitate bringing Little Kids Rock to six schools in the Fort Wayne Community Schools district: along with St. Joseph Central Elementary, the program is active at Abbett, Maplecrest, Price, Bloomingdale and Washington. Surack and Wish say they both hope that list will grow in the next few years.