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learn / 2020

Modern Band Los Angeles County

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Little Kids Rock

LKR will democratize music education across LA County through the expansion of our modern band program. Modern band trains and equips music teachers to connect learning to the music that kids already know and love—including rock, pop, Latin, and hip-hop, and others—performed with guitars, keyboards, drums, vocals, and technology. The program has resulted in increased participation in music, as well as improved social, emotional, and academic outcomes especially for students who do not feel represented by traditional music education offerings.

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

  • County of Los Angeles
  • LAUSD (please select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.

While this is not a collaborative proposal, partnerships are at the core of all of LKR’s work. We have a strong relationship with LAUSD, which supports our introductory workshops, Ambassador-led professional developments, and guest artist visits. They have also been supportive of the LA All-City Modern Band which was created in 2018, and have incorporated modern band methods into Beyond the Bell, their district-wide after-school program.

LKR also has a great collaborative relationship with Partnership LA and has ensured that all 20 LAUSD schools they oversee have a modern band program. We also partner with LA Works, which provides volunteers to assist teachers in the classroom. Their volunteers with musical backgrounds work with our LA All-City Modern Band students during rehearsals.

What is the need you’re responding to?

Music education cannot impact the lives of children it does not reach. In LAUSD, for example, 80%+ of students are eligible for free/reduced-fee meals, a strong indicator of the socio-economic realities that students and their families face. When buying groceries is a challenge, obtaining an instrument or getting lessons outside of school is almost impossible. Additionally, 70%+ of the student population is Latino/Hispanic, meaning many young people may choose not to participate in traditional music programs as they do not reflect their likes and diverse cultural perspectives. The need then is two-fold: music education must be both accessible and relevant to be effective. At a time when the benefits of music education are better understood than ever before, LKR is improving participation and inspiring young people to unlock their inner music-makers with profound results including enhanced emotional literacy, improved attendance, and increased engagement in the school community.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?

No other service provider combines teacher training, instruments, and curriculum and offers them as a direct investment in the district’s existing infrastructure. For instance, LKR’s modern band approach is implemented by full-time district employees, offered during the academic day or as a sustained after-school program, and is made available at no fee to the students, teachers, or schools.

LKR also has a proven track of working with school districts across LA County, including LAUSD where we’ve worked in partnership since 2004. Currently, we serve more than 17,000 students in 175 classrooms across LA County (in cities including Los Angeles, Pasadena, Altadena, Compton, and many others). For an overview of our current program schools, find a LA County Impact Map here:

With a modest initial investment, and by leveraging students’ cultural capital through inclusive curricula, LKR can scale modern band exponentially to transform music education across LA County.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?

Direct impact
Indirect impact

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

Ours is an age of unprecedented diversity, but traditional music education excludes students who do not recognize themselves or their culture in the music being offered in school. By teaching genres like rap, hip hop, Latin and R&B, which have been historically excluded from classrooms, modern band gives students that feel represented by these genres the means to express themselves and be heard, thus radically democratizing music education. Beyond the 20,000 public-school students who’ll participate directly in a modern band class, our data shows that access and exposure to inclusive music education practices positively impact the entire school and many modern band programs are a point of pride throughout the larger community.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

The Modern Band Los Angeles County project will dramatically expand access to culturally relevant music education in LA County. LKR currently serves over 17,000 students in 175 classrooms across the county. During the 2020-2021 school year, with support of My LA2050, LKR will:

  • Train and equip 20 new modern band teachers who’ll each launch new programs at their schools
  • Serve 3,000 additional students (helping us reach 20,000+ total students county-wide)
  • Provide 250+ hours of teacher training and professional development
  • Provide over 700,000 hours of student instructional time

To measure the program’s impact, LKR will conduct classroom site visits, solicit teacher feedback, and require program teachers to complete an annual year-end assessment survey gathering feedback on four key markers: Youth Development, Youth Musical Development, Teacher Development, and School Outcomes.

Based on historical data, we propose the following student/school outcomes as a result of modern band participation:

  • 80% of students are more likely to express themselves and their emotions
  • 80% of teachers say the program has engaged students who were not previously engaged in school
  • 75% of students say the program makes them want to come to school
  • 75% of teachers say the program has improved the school environment/culture
  • 70% of teachers observe improved behavior among students who had previously behaved poorly in class

Which of the learn metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Arts education
  • Enrollment in afterschool programs
  • K-8 chronic absenteeism

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?

  • LA is the best place to CREATE

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?

  • Access to the LA2050 community
  • Host public events or gatherings
  • Office space for meetings, events, or for staff