Rockstar Ethan wins Scholarship from D’Addario Foundation

When Ethan was 11 years old, his mom Karen watched him keep the beat while playing Rock Band in their home.

She was impressed with his drum skills, and she knew he would benefit from drum lessons. She searched for a music program where Ethan could grow as a musician, and found Rock to the Future.

Rockstar Ethan and Rockmom Karen Testimonial Video

Eight years later, Ethan has definitely grown as a musician. He plays drums and guitar, and he’s learning bass. This year, he joined a touring metal band and has been playing live shows.

As impressive as his musical chops are, Ethan’s journey has been about more than music. Through Rock to the Future, Ethan has made lasting friendships and discovered new ways of expressing himself. He’s just graduated high school and plans to study music at the Community College of Philadelphia. Through music, Ethan gained the self-confidence to succeed as a performer and student, both now and in his future academic and professional careers.

We’re so proud that Ethan was chosen as one of ten recipients for a 2019 D’Addario Foundation Scholarship. The scholarship couldn’t have gone to a more deserving student, and we’re thrilled to see Ethan be honored and receive extra support for his ongoing education.

It’s always bittersweet when a Rock to the Future student graduates. Of course we’re sad to see Ethan off to college, but we’re so excited to see what his future holds.

Check out Ethan’s MusiCore Kensington band Rat Corpse – their original song “Collateral Damage” is free to stream and download on our Bandcamp.


Making the Song – Coldstone

Rock to the Future’s student house band

brought the house down at the Music for All Ball with their original song Coldstone- a metal track with complex rhythm changes, shredding guitar, and layered vocals.

Coldstone was inspired by bassist Will’s part-time job. It’s a fantasy most wage workers know by heart- leaving your job and the city behind and moving to the desert. In Coldstone’s version, the idyllic freedom of life in the desert soon turns into a nightmare, as the protagonist gets hopelessly lost, eats poisonous plants to try and survive, and ultimately realizes that he can’t escape from his own mind. So, a pretty basic high school experience.

The student house band collaborated to write the song, with vocalist Nia taking the lead on lyrics with help from new bassist Brandon. Guitarists Franklin and Chanel are both in their first year with the student house band, which is amazing considering how much they shred. Nia, Will, and drummer Ethan all returned for the second year recording with Weathervane Music Organization, having recorded last year’s original track, Without You. This year is Ethan’s last with the student house band- the high school senior is graduating this year and heading off to Community College of Philadelphia.

Behind the scenes: Rock to the Future students on writing and recording the original song Coldstone.

Weathervane Music Organization helped the House Band record and mix Coldstone professionally at Miner Street Recordings. Band members had a first-hand lesson in the technology and techniques involved in recording a single. You can check out their final product and download Coldstone from Bandcamp for free.

Rock to the Future believes in the power of music to transform lives. We use music education as the foundation for academic, emotional, cultural, and intellectual growth. Your donation helps us provide free programs for underserved students in Philadelphia.


Thank you for rocking the Music for All Ball 2019

You rock!

Thanks to you, this year’s Music for All Ball raised over $45,000 to support Rock to the Future’s free music programs. That is way above our goal!

Thank you for supporting us at The Music for All Ball, and for making the night so memorable. The Ball was full of love and support for Rock to the Future’s student performers. We hope you had as much fun as we did!

Step and Repeat photos by Kindly, Colleen

This year’s Music for All Ball featured amazing performances from our students in the Rock to the Future Student House Band, Midnight Roses from MusiCore Kensington, and Chapters from MusiCore Germantown. The students were joined on stage by musicians like acoustic-trap soul artist Cvgebird (Selina Carrera),Shane Henderson(of pop-punk band Valencia), classical pianist and School District of Philadelphia music teacher Barron Lacy, and singer-songwriter Julia Rainer, plus hip hop artist Chill Moody returned as this year’s emcee and guest performer.

Preparing the next generation for every stage.

At Rock to the Future, we believe that music education should be as diverse as the kids we serve. By providing free to low-cost music experiences for under-resourced youth of all skill levels in Philadelphia, we inspire self-expression, build confidence, increase academic performance, and foster teamwork. Our students learn skills that they need to succeed- on stage and off.

Your support means so much to us. We couldn’t provide our programs without your help. Thank you!


Music for All Ball 2019

The Music for All Ball is fast approaching!

The Music for All Ball supports Rock to the Future’s mission of improving the lives of Philly youth through free music programs. Join us as we celebrate music education! Featuring a 90-minute live concert with Rock to the Future’s talented students alongside Philly musicians:


Acoustic-trap soul artist Cvgebird (Selina Carrera)
Shane Henderson of pop-punk band Valencia,
Classical pianist and School District of Philadelphia music teacher Barron Lacy
Singer-songwriter Julia Rainer

Plus hip hop artist Chill Moody is returning to emcee this year’s festivities in Drexel University’s Mandell Theater.

Stay for the after party and enjoy wine from Bota Box, beer from craft breweries like Sterling Pig, specialty cocktails, and the silent auction.


The 90-minute variety show will feature classic covers, original songs, and a Hall of Fame induction. This years’ event celebrates Matt Ramer, Principal at MOR Wealth Management, who has donated his time and talent over the past 4 years to help Rock to the Future reach new heights, and Syderick Rabusa, a volunteer who has mentored and tutored Rock to the Future student’s for the past 4 years.

See you there!

Acoustic Session @ Jacobs Music

To celebrate an exciting year, Rock to the Future supporters came to an exclusive acoustic performance from the Student House Band at Jacobs Music.

After unveiling our new logo designed by Brolik, guests spent the evening surrounded by music in Jacobs Musics’ beautiful Art Deco piano showrooms.

The night ended with an impromptu jam session with the Student House Band and Rock to the Future piano instructor Barron Lacy. Check out Barron and Nia’s in-the-moment Sarah McLachlin cover:


Rockstar Rian- the Rock to the Future alum on college, creativity, and growing through music.

“Growing up can be weird. 

Sometimes as adults, we forget the challenges we face when discovering and developing ourselves, our coming of age. It’s important to explore our interests and have the confidence to fully express ourselves during this crucial time.

At Rock to the Future, uniqueness and diversity is celebrated, and personalities are given the opportunity to shine.

As a former student of the Philadelphia Public School District, I have unfortunately directly been impacted by budget cuts in the art departments of Philadelphia schools and know what it’s like to have a creative outlet be oppressed or limited. I was a shy kid that would shut myself away from people as I grew up. But because of the opportunities provided to me by Rock to the Future, I was able to really develop myself as an artist and dive deeper into the world of music, opening myself up and learning to express myself through something I was passionate about.

Not only was I able to benefit from this program by learning how to read music and play an instrument, I was also shown how to collaboratively work with others, perform and publicly speak, and improve my academic performance. I also took with me things that I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life–I was able to enhance my interest in the music industry, I’ve bonded and made friendships with people who I now consider my RTTF family, and I value the importance of educating our youth and giving back to the community.

Because of the opportunities and experiences provided to me through Rock to the Future, 

I am able to continue my guided passion for music industry operations through my education provided at The University of the Arts, majoring in the Music Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology program and I plan to graduate this coming spring.

Without Rock to the Future and all the opportunities and support given to me, I’m not sure if any of this would have happened. I have this program to thank, it’s truly changed my life and I am sincerely grateful.”

– Rian Iwer

“This is where I belong.” Camilla on joining Rock to the Future.

One day, Kensington High School student Camilla noticed a new drum set on the stage of her school’s auditorium. She asked someone about them- Simone Crew, the MusiCore Kensington site director, told her about Rock to the Future’s after school program. As soon as she heard that MusiCore was free and open to all students, Camilla was hooked.

Camilla has played piano and written her own music for years, but before joining Rock to the Future she only knew what she could teach herself. Even though she loved music, classes were always too expensive for her family. Now, her favorite class is her piano lesson and music theory class with teaching artist Barron Lacy: “It’s the best thing in the world. Mr. Barron’s great, he’s amazing! Every single piece I give him, he plays it and I start crying. Words can’t describe how great he is.”

She loves learning to play movie scores, especially music by Hans Zimmer: “It’s just so calming. I love those kinds of pieces that are really powerful and have meaning, even though there’s no words.” And, since she’s a senior and high school and applying to colleges, she needs all the calming music that she can get!

Camilla plans to study oncology, since cancer has touched her life and family. Finding the right school is hard, but Rock to the Future helps by taking students like Camilla on college visits and to college fairs. Camilla moved to Philadelphia last year, after Hurricane Maria hit her home in Puerto Rico. She first started looking at colleges in Pennsylvania with Rock to the Future, and she is excited about her options: “When I went on this college trip, it opened a lot of doors. I saw schools where I didn’t have to choose between medicine and music, but where I could pursue both. I have a shoebox full of papers from colleges!”

“Basically, this has been an escape. When I got here, I was so homesick that I couldn’t play. I still had passion, but I just closed myself off. So, I was trying to find ways to get back to what I loved. When I got to Rock to the Future and saw the piano, I just started playing it again and felt that this is where I belong. They helped me open the door to music again. Every day that I’m upset, I look forward to coming here and getting my mind off things with music.” – Camilla, 12th Grade

At Rock to the Future, our programs begin where the classroom ends. We help students like Camilla plan for the future with college visits, college application help, and a scholarship writing club. Rock to the Future uses music to inspire kids to find what they love and who they want to be, and your support helps us provide students with a safe and supportive environment where they can learn, grow, and ROCK.

Donate today to support students like Camilla – Rock to the Future is under $5,000 away from reaching our fundraising goal!

In her own words – Rock to the Future graduate Destinee shares her story

Picture this:

A young girl is walking home from school, devastated, because she has discovered the School District of Philadelphia had made budget cuts to the performing arts program. This young girl had dreams of becoming a Rockstar – what can she do now? Her mother showed her a flyer for a new program called “Rock to the Future,” and the rest was history!

I was that young girl. Rock to the Future gave me the opportunity to be the Rockstar I yearned to be. HOWEVER, I did not just learn how to be a Rockstar in music! Through active volunteer work with Rock to the Future, I learned how to be an independent woman in business and advertising; I learned how to professionally speak at events; and I learned the importance of making connections with others.

So where am I now?

Well, within the next year, I will be graduating from Penn State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology! When I am not working (or studying for my GREs), I am producing my own music – a skill I learned at Rock to the Future. I have travelled to Buffalo, Baltimore, and all around Pennsylvania for networking opportunities at conferences. I met Dave Coulier (Uncle Joey from Full House), Scott Stapp from Creed, and Bumblefoot from the late Guns ‘N’ Roses all because I had experience in setting up stage equipment! Finally, I am an active participant in Penn State’s Chamber Singers. My future plans include: Traveling across the U.S., applying to graduate school, and continuing to volunteer my time at Rock to the Future!

Thank you to everyone at Rock to the Future for guiding me through many major life milestones – I couldn’t have done it without you!

Peace & Love,
Destinee Mateo

Check our Destinee’s music online:

Your gift helps Philadelphia youth grow as musicians, students, and young adults. Give the gift of music to students like Destinee – make a donation to Rock to the Future!

“It just made me feel more at home.”

When we think about rock stars, we think about Ethan.

Now in his senior year, Ethan has been at Rock to the Future since 2011. At the MusiCore Kensington year end showcase in June, Ethan received more than a round of applause – Ethan won an academic award for his high grades, and he was gifted a double bass pedal to help his heavy metal drumming. He hasn’t let the awards get to his head though. He’s busy looking at colleges to study music, performing in the Student House Band, and playing drums in a band outside of Rock to the Future.

Ethan receiving an academic award for his junior year grades.

The 2018-2019 Student House Band ad Jacobs Music.

Ethan is a multi-instrumentalist; though he started off playing drums, he puts equal weight on playing the guitar.  Along with the Student House Band, Ethan helped write the original song “Find What You’re Loosing” with Blind Melon guitarist Rogers Stevens.  

“I would say without Rock to the Future I wouldn’t be where I am now. It just made me feel more at home.”

Ethan has been in the Student House Band for six years. The House Band relies on teamwork to perform and write songs, which Ethan says usually goes smoothly. “If I just listen to a song I try to take a part of it or an element from that and turn it into my version. That’s kind of how it works.”

When Ethan joined Rock to the Future, his only musical experience was a video game – The Beatles: Rock Band. But his mom suspected that “he had drums in his soul.” When she saw an ad for MusiCore, she knew it would be a great way to encourage Ethan’s creativity. Now, Ethan is an accomplished drummer and guitarist, and he has made lasting friendships with other students in the program. 

“Because of Rock to the Future, I know my son has a future filled with friends and music. He will work at a job he will love –something that I’ve worried about for years… I am not afraid anymore. That’s what every parent wants. That was Rock to the Future’s gift to me.
-Karen C., Ethan’s mom

You helped Shaun to dream big.

This April, Shaun took the stage after a year of hard work. Through the stage lights, the crowd cheered on Shaun and his siblings, Jemaine and Myriah, as they got ready to play Alicia Keys’ “No One” that they spent months rehearsing. As the spotlight shone on him, with 200 supporters of family, friends, and community members cheering them on, he counted the band in. The Harrison Family Band brought the house down, and Shaun reached his goal of playing drums on a professional stage. He also reached his academic goals by joining the Rock to the Future Youth Leadership Council, and he won an award at school for improving his grades after working with his mentor at MusiCore every day after school. 

The Harrison siblings have been rocking at RTTF ever since Shaun’s parents signed him up for summer camp. Shaun was practically born a drummer- he’s been banging on pots and pans since he was three years old. The trip to MusiCore Kensington from the Harrison’s home in Mt. Airy isn’t easy- it’s about an hour each way. But when the Harrison parents saw how much Shaun loved making friends and playing the drums at summer camp, they signed him, and his sibling Jemaine and Myriah, up for MusiCore After School. Now, the three siblings come to MusiCore after school every day to grow as musicians.

Your support helped Shaun to achieve his dream and see how much his hard work can accomplish. 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 Shaun this year?

Rock to the Future believes that every student in Philadelphia deserves the opportunity to grow with music.

Unfortunately, there is a music education gap in Philadelphia. It can be hard or impossible for low-income youth to find affordable, high quality, and engaging music programs. Rock to the Future believes that music education gives underserved kids and teens important tools to grow- not only as musicians, but as students and individuals. We’re proud to provide our free music programs for over 300 at-risk youth annually. Thanks to supporters like you, Rock to the Future reaches students that attend dozens of Philadelphia schools. In 2018, we doubled the reach of our after-school program, where students receive homework help, tutoring, and college prep in addition to music lessons and band practice. No matter what instrument or music style they choose, we offer free after-school, in-school, and summer programs so that every child in Philadelphia has the chance to find their own voice.

Rock to the Future is committed to the growth of students like Shaun. Funding for the arts fluctuates, but Rock to the Future provides consistent music education because all kids and teens 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? Your gift of any size will be matched up to $25,000 if you donate to us by 12/31/18 – that means that your gift is doubled! Your tax-deductible gift means so much to Shaun and students like him, who are composing their futures with us.