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.”
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