Rocking from home – online resources for civics and mindfulness

With all the news flying around, it can be hard to keep your head. These online resources can help you identify trustworthy news sources, keep centered, and place the news in the context of history and civic structures.

Newsfeed Defenders – a free game to help you identify trusted news sources online.

GoNoodle – free videos with health and wellness activities. Try yoga, mindfulness activities, or get hygiene tips.

Facing History – free stories about important topics, like racism, immigration, bullying, and human rights. Stories end with questions to spark thought.

Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case – a free game that explores primary sources: “Play as Jo Wilder, a scrappy girl who spends her days with her pet badger Teddy and her grandpa, a historian. When some mysterious artifacts show up at the History Museum, you must unravel the clues to find the real stories behind the artifacts.”

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Rocking from home – experiment with digital music

One of our favorite MusiCore After School blocks is the Creative Maker Lab. (Actually, maybe all blocks are our favorite.) Students explore all kinds of self-directed projects, including graphic design, stage presence, and digital music production. Some of our MobileMusic Workshops also teach digital music production. Using a computer to make music is really fun, because you can easily experiment with different sounds. Here are some websites to help you create songs, beats, and samples on a computer or smartphone.

Blokdust – digital synthesizer that lets you create unique tones using shapes that interact with each other. Take the tour when you open the program, and then experiment with the sounds!

Requires: internet connection, desktop or tablet.

Noteflight – compose songs on a traditional sheet music interface. You can layer sounds, experiment with rhythm, and more.

Requires: internet connection. You can register for a free account using your email, Facebook account, or Google account. Works with a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Sampulator – create loops and samples using your computer keyboard! This website is very simple and fun, and you can record and playback the loops you make.

Requires: internet connection, computer. A limited demo version is available on the website for tablet and smartphone.

One Motion Drum Machine – experiment with beats with this digital drum machine. One Motion lets you build beats from simple to complex.

Requires: internet connection. Works with a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Groovebox – free app that lets you experiment with synths and drum machines.

Requires: tablet or smartphone with iOS (Apple product).

Follow along with Rock to the Future’s blog for ways to practice your instrument, explore music, and stay connected from home over the next few weeks.

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Rocking from home – instrument and vocal tutorial videos

Just because schools are closed, that doesn’t mean our students can’t rock!

Rock to the Future expects to open our programs as the Philadelphia schools we work in reopen.  In the meantime, our staff is working hard from home to put together resources to help our students keep the music playing. To start off, here are some Youtube tutorials! For some of these videos you may prefer to practice with an instrument, but many of these videos can be useful even without an instrument at home.

Voice and Vocal Warmups

“Opening Up The Voice” with Eric Arceneaux


“Increasing Vocal Range” with Eric Arceneaux

“How to Sing with Confidence” with Madeleine Harvey

Piano / Keyboard

“How to play Someone Like You by Adele” with Pianote

No keyboard at home? Try Online Pianist’s free virtual keyboard.


“How to play Ocean Eyes by Billie Eilish” with Pianote

No keyboard at home? Try Online Pianist’s free virtual keyboard.


“Understanding Rythm” with Pianote

No instrument needed.

Guitar

“Bring Me Down (Rivermaya) Easy Guitar Tutorial” with Perfecto de Castro

“Music Theory for Guitarists” with Perfecto de Castro

No instrument needed.


“Flying Little Pinky Exercise” with Perfecto de Castro

Bass Guitar

“Wild Thing: Beginner Bass Tutorial” with Center Stage

“The 7 Modes of the Major Scales” with Center Stage


“How to Read Music on Bass Guitar” with TalkingBass

No instrument needed.

Drums

“20 Must Know Drum Beats” with Drums Online

“How to Read Drum Music” with Drums The Word

No instrument needed.

“5 Drum Fills that Work” with Stephen Taylor

Alright, it’s time to practice!

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Rock to the Future is heading to West Philly!

“Thank you for teaching me music! I’ve always wanted to learn.”

– Science Leadership Academy student

Rock to the Future is proud to partner with Sunrise of Philadelphia to bring our free music programs West Philadelphia. Starting this week, our newest MobileMusic workshop classes began for elementary and middle school students at Science Leadership Academy. Students will learn guitar and digital music production, and experience the magic of music.

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You might recognize the new teachers. Rock to the Future alums Jared and Drew are joining us again, this time as members of our instructor training program for alumni. After coaching from Rock to the Future staff, they will lead their own classes. It’s always great to see our alumni continue to thrive in music and life!

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Volunteer Scott on Rock to the Future

I’m a big fan of the work that Rock to the Future does, and I’m so fortunate that a friend let me know about the organization! I volunteer at the Kensington High School location.

I love seeing how beneficial the program is for our students. They grow tremendously as musicians, learning to play a variety of instruments, as well as working on their songwriting skills. And they get the experience of playing in bands with other musicians, which has a transformative effect on their beliefs about what is possible for them to accomplish with music, as well as on their ability to collaborate with others. The students get better so much faster by playing music with other people.

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Week after week, Rock to the Future helps students increase their self-efficacy. The students learn that the combination of their own hard work and the support of the staff enables the students to accomplish things that matter to them, both in music and non-music related contexts.


Indeed, I appreciate how committed the Rock to the Future staff is to supporting students. It’s clear how much the staff cares, and their impact goes far beyond the technical music skills the students learn. The students gain confidence to take on new challenges and build their courage. Whether it’s committing to the work to get better at playing a song, taking on difficult school assignments, applying to colleges, or anything else the student cares about, the Rock to the Future community is a source of strength and encouragement for students.

And it’s not just the staff. It is heartening to see the students push each other to try harder, celebrate each others’ successes, and be there for each other through the inevitable ups and downs in the learning process. I am so glad to be involved with Rock to the Future.

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– MusiCore Kensington volunteer Scott A.

Interested in volunteering at Rock to the Future? Check out our upcoming volunteer opportunities.

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In the spotlight: a year at Rock to the Future

Every month, we highlight some of our awesome students, volunteers, and staff in the Rock to the Future email newsletter. When someone is In the Spotlight, it’s because they rock- whether they’re a student who aced a hard test, an instructor who went above and beyond, or a volunteer who brings their best to the the program every day.

Take a look at some of last year’s Spotlights:

City Year and Rock to the Future Volunteer Day

We had a blast taking part in City Year Philadelphia’s 2019 Day of Service. Together with hundreds of volunteers from around the area, we painted 100 murals in Kensington High’s gym, hallways, and classrooms – including in Rock to the Future’s program spaces. Read about the day on WHYY.

Volunteer Joe L.

Joe Leone started volunteering at the MusiCore Kensington after-school program this fall, and he quickly became a rockstar volunteer. Check out the sign he made for the homework room! MusiCore Kensington students love seeing Joe two or three days a week, and his help is always appreciated. You rock, Joe!

Student House Band at Weathervane

Rock to the Future’s Student House Band recorded, mixed, and mastered an original song with Weathervane Music. During their intensive weekend at Miner Street Recordings, Rock to the Future students got a first-hand look at the process of recording in a professional studio. They’ll play their original song Coldstone on stage at the Music for All Ball on April 6th. It’s a metal track that tells the story of bassist Will’s psychic journey through a desert (it rocks!). 

BON VOYAGE KATIE FEENEY

After rocking with us for six and a half years, Development Director Katie Feeney is leaving Rock to the Future to follow her creative pursuits. All of us at Rock to the Future will miss having her brighten the office. You can still catch Katie performing all around the Philly area with her band, You Do You, and hosting the series Brightstar Buzz on PhillyCAM and Princeton TV.

“Thank you for all of your support over the past six and half years. Together we have worked to prepare hundreds of youth for every stage in life through music education. It has been my pride and honor to support so many talented youth through high school and onto college and professional careers. In fact, just last week I spoke to a former Rock to the Future student, Destinee, who was in 9th grade when I began working here and has just graduated from college. I know that the organization will continue to succeed and impact more youth like Destinee for years to come.”

MUSICORE GERMANTOWN SITE DIRECTOR MS. KAAMI MOORE

After leaving her job on Wall Street to start her own foundation to help underserved youth in the US and Colombia, Kaamilah Moore discovered Rock to the Future when she looked for opportunities to help youth in North Philly. Ms. Kaami spent four years as a volunteer homework helper at MusiCore, where she helped students to “train their brains,” and trained her own as well!

After four years of volunteering, Ms. Kaami was the first Academic Coordinator at the MusiCore Germantown after school location. She’ll be spending her sixth year with Rock to the Future as the MusiCore Germantown Site Director for the upcoming school year! Ms. Kaami is looking forward to seeing all of the returning students, and meeting new rockstars.

ROCKSTARS OF THE MONTH

Join us in celebrating October’s Rockstar of the Month, Nylah W! She exhibits all of the qualities we look for in a rockstar- she’s helpful, has a great attitude, and works hard to improve on the keyboard. You rock Nylah!

Congratulations to November’s Rockstar of the Month, 6th grader Mekane A! Mekane might be a quiet soul but he is a joy to have in program. He always pulls out his homework and comes ready to play the drums. Plus, he’s one of the few kids we know who checks to see how the adults are doing!

FOUNDING FOOTSTEPS SPONSORS COLLEGE VISITS

Philadelphia tour company Founding Footsteps donated a trolley to take Rock to the Future middle and high school students on a college tour in style. Students visited Temple University, University of Pennsylvania, Harcum College, and Cabrini College (where their tour guide was current Cabrini student and Rock to the Future alum Alex M).

It was great to see Rock to the Future students so excited about college tours, especially since the tour left at 8:30 am on a Monday off from school! At Rock to the Future, we build leaders through music. Thank you to Founding Footsteps, and to all supporters who help our students to rock.

Thank you everyone who rocked with us last year.

This year, 2020, marks Rock to the Future’s ten year anniversary. We’re looking forward to another ten years of providing innovative music programs for amazing students from all over Philadelphia.

If you’d like to stay up-to-date on all of the amazing people in our spotlight, please consider signing up for our email newsletter. Every month, we send out an update on all the news, opportunities, and performances going on at Rock to the Future.

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Bringing music to Philadelphia schools

"Music can be a game changer for students."

Rock to the Future’s in-school, after-school, and summer programs use music as the foundation for kids and teens to learn life skills that help them grow. Studies show that music education is not only a positive outlet for emotion, but also improves executive functions (memory, organization, planning, and self-monitoring) which build academic confidence and self-esteem.


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“Music can be a game changer for students. For students who tend to be stigmatized because of the name of their school, being highlighted in positive ways is new. Rock to the Future has allowed our students to shine in the best ways possible. Their approach to music, education, and community-building is beautiful. They have laid roots in our school and formed a relationship with our students and staff through music. Our students look forward to the program every day, and I look forward to growing together!”

-Lauren Murphy-Sands, Vice Principal of Kensington High School


At Rock to the Future, we see the impact that music programs have for our students every day. Unfortunately, it can be hard for families in Philadelphia to find accessible, high-quality music programs in their neighborhoods. That's why we provide our programs for free. All students deserve the opportunity to express themselves creatively, jam with their friends, and grow in self-confidence by taking the stage.


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This year at Rock to the Future:
  • Rock to the Future operates the MobileMusic program in six Philadelphia schools, providing music programs to over 200 students during the school day that otherwise had their school's funding for music programs reduced or cut.

  • This year, Rock*A*Delphia student bands wrote original songs together, and had their tracks professionally recorded at Miner Street Studios. Give their songs a listen on our Bandcamp! Both summer camps are free for underserved Philadelphia kids and teens.

  • The MusiCore After School program serves over 70 students in grades 4-12, with locations in Kensington and Germantown. Since our founding in 2010, 100% of 12th grade graduates of MusiCore After School have gone on to postsecondary education, like college or trade school.

  • We want our staff to grow along with our programs. Our staff and teachers are trained in trauma informed practices, classroom management, and other mentoring skills. Our staff builds a support system for students’ social and emotional development that allows kids to try new things in a safe space.

  • The MusiCore After School program recently received multi-year funding through the city of Philadelphia's Department of Human Services. Rock to the Future was honored to be recognized as one of only eight specialized service providers to be awarded funding for our out-of-school-time programs.

  • Student bands had unique experiences with music industry professionals. The Student House Band wrote and recorded an original song with the Weathervane Music Organization. Student bands performed with CVGEBIRD, Chill Moody, Julia Rainer, and Shane Henderson at the Music for All Ball.

Every time a Rock to the Future student masters a new drum beat, aces their biology homework, captures their feelings with song lyrics, or strengthens a friendship, Rock to the Future thrives. Whether a student learns after school, during the school day, or over the summer, Rock to the Future students learn that being a rock star requires dedication, practice, and hard work. Your support helps Philadelphia students to succeed on every stage.


Help us meet our $25,000 match with a gift today.
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Rock to the Future grad Destiny on building a future

Destiny started playing bass guitar at Rock to the Future last year, when her friend Camila encouraged her to join. “At first, I didn’t want to go, but she told me that I’d be learning to play music, and she was like ‘you’ve gotta go, it’s so fun!’” Destiny says. “So I ended up attending, and I played at the final performance on stage at World Cafe Live. At the performance, I won a laptop for college and a scholarship to help with tuition.” Now in her first semester of college, Destiny is working hard to reach her goals and build her future with the tools she learned at Rock to the Future.

Music and the arts help youth to develop the social and emotional skills we all need to learn in order to thrive. Through music, Rock to the Future students learn to express themselves, check in with their emotions, and work collaboratively with other students. As they grow with us, students develop the confidence to shine on stage and in life. Our graduates gain the skills they need to succeed, now and in their future academic and professional careers.

Before Destiny joined Rock to the Future, she had given up on music.

“I played guitar and sang when I was younger, but I’ve had some hard times and some sad times, and that made me not what to play an instrument. After I turned 15, I stopped playing music,” Destiny says. Between the pressure to fit in at a new school and the stress of living in the foster system, she pushed her love of music to the side. Fortunately, thanks to the support of her friends and Rock to the Future staff, Destiny started using music to express herself, relieve stress, and build confidence. Having a creative outlet made her feel more like herself. “Once I started playing again, it was like remembering how to be me. It reminded me to be comfortable with who I am- it’s all about being comfortable with who you are.”

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Destiny is studying at Community College of Philadelphia while she works part-time. She’s already making plans to transfer to a four-year program. “Rock to the Future made college a priority, and they made it a priority to start somewhere, to keep the ball rolling after high school. They made sure I was enrolled at CCP, even if I planned to later go to a four year university. In high school, my grades weren’t good enough to get into the schools I wanted to go to. So now I’m at CCP, and I’m studying and trying to succeed in my classes. I’m also in the process of applying to four year universities, putting in transcripts and writing essays.”

Through her classes, Destiny was introduced to the education field. She’s hoping to major in education, and working to become a classroom teacher: “I get so much excitement and so much happiness when I think about taking classes that pertain to my major– like teaching kids in a classroom, or learning about classroom management and how to talk to kids.”

There is magic in learning and playing music. We believe that every kid in Philadelphia should have access to that magic at no cost. 

Everyone should have an outlet for creativity, regardless of economic status. When you support Rock to the Future’s free music programs, you give every student in Philadelphia the chance to find their own voice.

GIVE THE MAGIC OF MUSIC TO STUDENTS LIKE DESTINY TODAY. ALL GIFTS MADE BEFORE 12/31/19 WILL BE MATCHED – THAT MEANS YOUR DONATION IS DOUBLED!
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Rockstar Chanel – Growing Through Music

Chanel joined Rock to the Future in the fall of 2018, when MusiCore Kensington moved into Kensington High School. The 10th grader has been playing guitar ever since. As a member of the Student House Band, Chanel commits to extra practice time and performance opportunities. Chanel takes her responsibility as a House Band member seriously outside of practice as well. She sees herself as an ambassador of Rock to the Future: “With new people, if I see they’re sitting at a table alone I’ll just walk up to them and be like “hi,” and introduce myself, and tell them about Rock to the Future and let them know that they don’t have to be scared to talk to us, because we’re friendly people.” When the new school year started in September, Chanel and her bandmate Will went around to the new students to make sure everyone felt welcomed.

“Literally the next day, they were sitting at tables together and everyone was talking to each other. That really opened up a place in my heart. It made me so happy, because I never thought I could bring people together. Sometimes I feel nervous to talk to new people, but because I’m comfortable here, I just saw that it was necessary for me to make sure other people were as comfortable as I am.

This spring, Chanel wrote and recorded the original track Coldstone with the Student House Band. The band played Coldstone, along with some of their favorite cover songs, live on stage in front of a crowd of over 250 people at the 2019 Music for All Ball.

Playing guitar on stage is huge for Chanel. She started playing guitar when she was seven years old, but had never taken guitar lessons until she joined Rock to the Future.

Chanel hopes to keep growing as a musician. She’s learning eleven songs with the Student House Band this year, and she’s trying to learn to play three songs from one of her favorite bands, Tame Impala. Fourteen songs is a lot to learn, but Chanel isn’t giving up: “I look forward to learning new things every day. I want to learn new things at Rock to the Future, take it home and practice, and get it in my head. Then, I want to feed the things I learned about my instrument back into my band and pass it on. I want to learn everything that I can, and use that knowledge as a tool for my music. My goal for this year is to keep trying and never give up. I want to keep learning and getting better with my instrument.”

Your support helped Chanel to achieve her dreams. Chanel set ambitious goals for herself, worked hard, and was able to reach her goals and rock on stage. At Rock to the Future, our students learn that the confidence needed to be a musician, bandmate, and performer is transferable to all stages of life. Will you give the gift of music to students like Chanel this year?

“I love playing my guitar, and Rock to the Future gave me the capability to play as well as I do now. I appreciate you all! Rock to the Future is a peaceful, friendly space that you can be in with no drama while you learn new things.”
– Chanel, 10th Grade

Unfortunately, there is a music education gap in Philadelphia. It can be hard or impossible for students to find affordable music programs. Rock to the Future believes that high-quality music programs give students important tools to grow — not just musically, but academically, socially, and emotionally. With your generous support, Rock to the Future is able to provide free, innovative music programs for hundreds of Philadelphia students each year who would otherwise not have access to music education. Your donation helps youth in Philadelphia to find their voice.

Rock to the Future is committed to the growth of students like Chanel. Funding for the arts fluctuates, but Rock to the Future provides consistent music education because all youth need the skills and life lessons learned on stage. Will you support Rock to the Future to help us provide a safe, encouraging space for youth to grow at their own pace and in their own way? Thanks to a generous donor, your gift of any size will be matched if you donate to us by 12/31/19 – that means that your gift is doubled! Your tax-deductible gift means so much to Chanel and students like her, who are discovering their voices with us every day.

DONATE TODAY
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Rock to the Future wins DHS funding

Rock to the Future is proud to announce that we are one of eight organizations that were awarded funding as a Specialized Services Provider of out-of-school-time (OST) programming through the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS). We’re thrilled to be chosen, and to confirm our commitment to provide innovative after school programming that brings the magic of music to Philadelphia youth.

This is the first year of the special service provider category for DHS OST funding. After a very competitive process, Rock to the Future is one of only 5% of applicants who were awarded.

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The value of music education lies not only in learning how to play, but in nurturing a performer who is willing to take the risk and step out on stage. At Rock to the Future, we know that the magic of music impacts youth in all aspects of their life. Thank you DHS for helping us provide quality music education for Philadelphia youth.

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