On March 23, members of the Pandora music streaming company held a music day at Roots International Academy, a middle school in East Oakland, as part of their Little Kids Rock program, which works to bring music education to schools serving a low-income student population. Teachers at these schools can take training classes, learning to teach using Little Kids Rock’s music curriculum, and earning credits to be exchanged for guitars, pianos and even Macbooks.
Dr. Bryan Alvarez, who first came to Roots Academy as a substitute teacher in November 2014, began Roots’ first elective two months later: music class. And after he and a few other teachers began participating in the Little Kids Rock training classes, all sorts of equipment started to arrive, from guitars to drumsets to laptops to keyboards. Since then, students have been practicing not only instrumental work but also music production, using the laptops and the computer program Garage Band to compose their own songs.
At the event on March 23, music students spent the morning rotating between different Pandora-led stations, going from the jam session station in the auditorium to a lyric-writing game in the music room to making instruments out of paper plates and pipe cleaners, and finally to a music “Jeopardy!” game in the library. In the afternoon, all Roots students gathered in the auditorium to hear well-known Bay Area musicians perform.
Click the video above to see how the day unfolded.