Many parents want one thing for their children: to provide them with more opportunities than they had when they were kids. Ignacio Arrendondo decided to honor the sacrifices his father made for him by making his father’s dream of becoming a musician into his own dream. Little Kids Rock helped make that happen…
At the age of three, Ignacio immigrated to the United States from his native Chile, and found his new life in America to be a challenge. He struggled to adapt to a new culture, while also trying to absorb some of the basic pillars of his family’s culture. Music helped him overcome the difficulty of learning English, and connected him to his Chilean roots where his grandfather was a musician years ago. When Ignacio began experimenting with music in 2009 at the age of 13, his father encouraged him by sharing his own dream of starting a band – one that he never got to realize.
Ignacio recognized that by deciding to come to the United States to make a better life for his family, his father had sacrificed his own dreams in order to provide Ignacio with opportunities he never had. He joined the Little Kids Rock program during his 8th grade year at Franklin L. Williams Middle School in Jersey City in order to hone his skills.
“My father told me that when he was a kid, he always wanted to make a band, and that he didn’t have the opportunities I have,” says Ignacio, who was inspired to make the most of his father’s sacrifice by starting a band of his own. “When [my father] told me that, I felt like I could make his dream come true, but in my life.”
Ignacio’s musical journey did not stop when he went to high school. While writing music and forming a band with other students he met in his Little Kids Rock class, Ignacio also made time to go back to his middle school to help teach younger, budding musicians how to play, write, and most of all, feel confident.
Ignacio put his heart into a song he wrote, “Here We Are,” which he performed with his band, The White Skies, in front of a sold out Jake Clemons show at the legendary Wonderbar in Asbury Park, NJ. Little Kids Rock helped Igancio make his song into his first music video.
Now a 17-year-old high school student, Ignacio is ecstatic to have the opportunity to make his dream, and his father’s dream, a reality. “This song took me further than I ever thought,” he said.
Little Kids Rock is proud to help kids like Ignacio realize their dreams every day.
Just a little over one month ago, bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon and shook us all to the core. It is very difficult for adults to make sense of that tragedy, much less children.
A 9-year-old Little Kids Rock student named Ashley wrote a song called “Marathon,” offering a perspective with wisdom that is far beyond her young age.
Little Kids Rock is fortunate to be able to give children like Ashley a creative conduit to articulate the things that happen in their worlds... and in everyone's world.
Music changes children. Children change the world.
Your Friends in Music, Little Kids Rock
Nishang Jiang recalls being forced to sit at the piano and practice for hours as a young child in China, and not enjoying it. One time, she threw her sheet music on the floor out of frustration and sat there upset for a long time. However, Nishang’s musical world was rocked when she moved to Jersey City, NJ just three months ago and enrolled in a Little Kids Rock class. “Music [became] more expressive and less rigid,” she said. “In America, everyone plays music because they like to and are interested, not just for a class goal.” Though she could read sheet music and perform on the piano, she never learned how to improvise or compose; never had the opportunity to choose her instrument or the songs she learned; never saw music as being relevant or fun. “One day, my teacher asked me if I ever thought about writing my own song, but I didn’t know how to start.” He empowered her by instructing her to write her story and use the guitar chords she had learned in the past three months. I Know You’re With Me is Nishang’s first original composition, and according to her teacher Mr. Flora, it helped “transform her perception of music as well.” Little Kids Rock teaches kids in a way that makes music fun, engaging and empowering, rather than a chore. Children can become originators, rather than imitators. “I have different appreciation for music now,” says Nishang, whose story is not unlike those of the 200,000+ children that Little Kids Rock has served. “I think a lot of students who learn music, learn it just to finish the task,” she says. “Maybe they don’t know what is the real meaning of music.”
"Thank you for giving me the "oppor-tune-ity" to play the guitar and, of course, I took it! (the opportunity, not the guitar)" – Rachel (5th grade, New York City)
Because of your support, Little Kids Rock has forever enriched the lives of more than 200,000 needy school children over the past ten years by providing them with free instruments and music lessons.
But our work has just begun! (DONATE TODAY at www.littlekidsrock.org)
You have the opportunity to DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT! Bohemian Foundation has offered up a challenge grant, and will match your donations up to $50,000 for the next six weeks. This means that your $1,000 gift, which puts 20 guitars into a classroom, will now enable Little Kids Rock to donate 40 guitars!
"I always played Guitar Hero... Now I am one!" – Ryan (4th grade, Dallas)
We all know music has a powerful impact on a child’s emotional and educational development. Unfortunately, the children from impoverished communities across America who need it the most are being deprived of music’s many gifts due to school budget cuts.
Please give the gift of music this holiday season so that our children have the “oppor-tune-ity” to experience the sensation of an instrument in their hands, to add some sound to their silent schools, and to feel like they are a real Guitar Hero.
"Before Little Kids Rock came into our school, it was silent. Now we ROCK OUT!" – Levi (5th grade, Jersey City)
For every child you support, we’ll support another.
Your Friends in music,
Little Kids Rock
How do you express your emotions? Do you go for a run? Paint? How about writing a song?
At the age of eight, Aaliyah Baez experienced a life-changing event - she lost her father. Songwriting has since become a creative outlet for her to express her feelings.
“Writing a song about my father and sharing it made me feel better,” said Aaliyah, now 14. She wrote “Daddy’s Little Girl” as a way to cope with the hardship of becoming a teenager without a father.
To me, you’re the greatest dad in the whole wide world.
Daddy, it’s just not fair,
That you have to watch my life go by up there.
I’m always going to be Daddy’s little girl.
Don’t worry, one day I’ll be next to you,
Looking down on the world.
“I remember I wrote half of a song and sang it to [my Little Kids Rock teacher] Mr. Flora. He said I have a gift and that I should never give up,” she said. “It was a poem before, but it started to get boring when I said it with no emotion. I wanted to put more feeling in it. I wanted a melody to make it even more special.”
Aaliyah built up her confidence and asked her classmates to help turn her poem into a song. “Songwriting makes me feel powerful,” she said. “I couldn’t wait to touch everyone’s hearts.”
“I felt touched because I’ve also been separated from my father,” Ellesia, 13, said. “It has impacted me emotionally. I wanted to help out because I believe a lot of daughters without their fathers feel the same way as Aaliyah.”
Her classmates, many of whom she plays with in a band, helped her channel her emotions into a melody, rhythm and structure, effectively turning her poem into a full-fledged song.
“Little Kids Rock influenced my life by telling me not to give up, to keep going and to live my life doing what I love to do.”
Students like Aaliyah are evidence why music education matters in a child’s life – because it gives them something at which to excel. It gives them the tools to create an artistic expression of their inner most feelings, and the confidence to collaborate with others.
Little Kids Rock is the only national music program in the U.S. public schools that encourages song composition. Your gift helps students like Aaliyah express their emotions in a safe, creative way that will strengthen their character, and give them a reason to feel proud.
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