Emergency Art Action to Fund Black Futures

Rock to the Future, as a member organization of the newly-formed Artist Coalition for a Just Philadelphia ,will hold an Emergency Art Action to Fund Black Futures on Tuesday June 16 1 - 3pm at the steps of The Philadelphia Museum of Art, coinciding with City Council discussions on the 2021 budget. This action will use the power of artistic expression in the form of music, dance, and visual art to speak out against the complete defunding of arts and culture and increases in police funding. Everyone is invited to join us to express how the arts are essential to our communities and demand a city budget that defends Black lives and culture. The voices of Black, Indigenous, and persons of color artists will be centered and amplified.

Black communities are under attack

as services for parks and recreation, for public health, for the homeless, for education, and for arts and culture are under threat of being defunded by the proposed City of Philadelphia 2021 budget.

Since 2016, funding for the Philadelphia Police Department has continued to grow by $120 million under Mayor Kenney’s tenure. Artist Coalition for a Just Philadelphia demands that the city prioritize equitable funding that supports and strengthens Black communities rather than criminalizing them, including supporting funding for community arts programs through the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

The elimination of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund will devastate hundreds of community-based organizations, many of which already operate on shoestring budgets and in volunteer capacities. Data demonstrates that arts and culture programs support healthy community development, both medically and emotionally, and can decrease these public health crises’ that tax our economy.

The positive impact of grassroots arts and culture organizations is seen, heard, and felt throughout Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. These services are vital and support Philadelphia’s most vulnerable populations. In this current crisis, Black/POC led and serving arts organizations must be supported by demanding the continuation of community arts funding. Artist Coalition for a Just Philadelphia is a collective of grassroots arts organizations committed to using the power of the arts to uplift community voices in the fight for racial, social, and economic justice.

Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/3136257513099524

We are committed to pay all of the artists, musicians, and speakers performing at this event. You can help us make sure artists of color are paid for their time and talent with a donation towards paying our artists: bit.ly/payourartists

Resources for Anti-Racism and Self-Care

Hi Rock to the Future family. I wanted to check in with you all. This past week has brought up a lot of feelings for all of us. Please know you can reach out to staff and instructors with any questions or if you just need to talk. I also want to share some tools and resources with you. These include self-care tips, ways you can take action to work towards racial justice, and some resources on the history of civil rights and racial injustice for you to check out or share with others.

Self-Care Resources

Take care of yourself. Your emotions are valid, and that means all of them- even so-called “negative” emotions like anger, despair, and hopelessness. Here are some resources to help your emotional self:

Self-Care Tips for Black People Struggling With This Very Painful Week This guide includes steps like making sure your basic needs are met (Are you eating enough? Drinking enough water? Moving your body?), setting boundaries with friends and your own internet consumption, and taking time to celebrate Black art and artists.

What is Self-Care A great intro to self-care, including ways to check in with yourself and your emotions. This guide recommends journaling, or writing down how you feel or what you are doing, as a great way to work through your thoughts.

Self Care Plan & Sample Completed Self-Care Plan You can use this template to design a unique self-care plan. It includes listing supportive people in your life, outlining your goals, and planning ways to take care of your mental and emotional needs.

Philly Hope Line The Philly Hope Line offers free video and phone counseling services for School District of Philadelphia students, parents, and guardians. Call or text the Philly HopeLine 12-9 p.m. Monday - Friday and 12-4 p.m. on the weekend (or leave a message at any time for a call back). Phone: 1-833-PHL-HOPE (1-833-745-4673)

Get Involved From Home

2020 US Census online. The US Census determines funding for libraries, schools, ACCESS and SNAP benefits, and other community needs. Black, Latinx, and immigrant families have historically been undercounted in the census, which means these communities are underfunded. If your family has not filled out the census yet, encourage them to complete the census to be counted. The census can be completed through mail or online, and takes only a few minutes to finish. 

The 2020 primary election is tomorrow, Tues 6/2. Even if you are too young or otherwise unable to vote, helping others to vote and spreading factual information in this time of confusion is a great way to help! If anyone in your household is unsure of who to vote for, the Philadelphia Citizen has a great roundup of local candidates. Mail in ballots are due by 8pm on 6/2, and can be dropped off in special boxes around the city. Your local polling place may have changed because of social distancing requirements, and you can check ahead of time. Some polling places may provide sanitizer for you to use, and all polling places will be sanitizing regularly. Results of the primary help shape the platform for local and state elections, as well as the presidential election, in November.

POWER Philadelphia. This interfaith and multicultural advocacy group is working to create racial justice. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook for ways you can get involved, like their call for artists to submit artwork or videos for their Juneteenth festival.

Vote that Jawn. A youth-led organization that empowers Philly youth to vote and amplifies youth voices. They are currently campaigning to expand mail-in voting for the election this November, which means more people will be able to vote.

11 Things to Do to Support Black Lives Matter This guide from Teen Vogue has suggestions you can do from home, like starting a petition and sharing your rights with your friends and followers.

BuzzfeedNews’ Running List of Hoaxes and Misleading Posts about the Protests These days, misinformation is everywhere online. You can check this list to help you make sure the news you’re seeing and sharing is correct.

Crash-Course in Civil Rights

Deepening your knowledge is a powerful tool. Here are some sources to help you to better understand the history of racial injustice in America:

1619 Project The New York Times’ collection of articles, essays, and stories examines the history and impact of slavery in the United States and the way that legacy shapes our present. The project centers Black voices and shares stories you may not have heard before.

For Our White Friends Desiring to be Allies This article is a great place to check in if you are curious about what it means to be an ally for racial justice.

A Performance of Freedom Hidden City's in-depth look at anti-Black racism and laws in Philadelphia, from 1693 to today.

Or check out this list of shows and movies:

13th (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix

American Son (Kenny Leon) — Netflix

Dear White People (Justin Simien) — Netflix

Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler) — Available to rent

I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin doc) — Available to rent or on Kanopy (free with Free Library card)

If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) — Hulu

Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton) — Available to rent

King In The Wilderness  — HBO

See You Yesterday (Stefon Bristol) — Netflix

Selma (Ava DuVernay) — Available to rent

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution — Available to rent

The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr.) — Hulu with Cinemax

When They See Us (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix

Take care and I hope your week is full of connection, hope, and healing! Rock to the Future staff is always here to talk and listen, so reach out if you feel uncertain.

With love,
Josh Craft
Chief Music Officer

Instrument Delivery!

Many Rock to the Future students don't have an instrument to practice on at home. So, when the stay at home order closed our in-person music classes, Rock to the Future's CEO and founder Jess and Chief Music Officer Josh safely delivered instruments to our students' doors!

Many thanks to Hungry for Music and Keep Music Alive for donating instruments to keep Rock to the Future students playing music at home. Our free online music classes are open to all Philadelphia students. Check out our virtual classes for May and June, and sign up today: Virtual Programs.

Donating an instrument is a great way to help students discover the magic of music. Though our doors are closed, Rock to the Future is still accepting instrument donations. If you want to donate an instrument in Philadelphia, fill out our online form and we will be in touch!

Students find their groove with Chill Moody

Chill Moody, Weathervane Music Organization, and Rock to the Future are helping Philadelphia teens to express themselves through music. Chill Moody wrote an original song with six members of Rock to the Future’s student band, giving them a unique look into the professional songwriting process.

The song, The Beauty in Sadness, is about healing after a breakup. The song encourages the listener to find beauty in the creativity and transformation that a sad change can inspire.


10th grade student Chanel inspired the song with a guitar line she wrote in her bedroom. Chanel had been teaching herself to play guitar for years, but her family had trouble finding affordable music lessons before joining Rock to the Future.

“When I found out Rock to the Future was here [at Kensington High School], I was really happy,” Chanel says. “I was honestly like ‘my life has been saved. My guitar helps me more than anything else does. I feel like I can talk with my guitar. I can talk by strumming and moving my fingers, I don’t even have to open my mouth to say anything.”


Chill Moody and Rock to the Future students recorded their new song with the Weathervane Music Organization, known for their Shaking Through docu-series. Over the course of the weekend, the students in grades 8-11 gained an inside look at the music industry, expanded their creative expression, and walked away with a professionally recorded original song. The song, The Beauty in Sadness, is free to stream and download on Rock to the Future’s Bandcamp page.

Looking for online music classes? Rock to the Future's free online music programs are open to all Philadelphia students in grades 4-12. Students can learn an instrument in a small group class, or join one of our drop in classes on digital music production and songwriting. Join Rock to the Future to rock from home!

Online Music Programs

Music for All Digital Ball


Even though we were unable to meet in person this April, Rock to the Future supporters still rocked at the Music for All Digital Ball!  200 supporters joined us from the comfort of their homes for a video extravaganza, featuring videos from Rock to the Future students, alumni, supporters, and staff, as well as taped performances by Philly musicians. Thank you to all who joined us to celebrate 10 years of music education with Rock to the Future.

The annual Music for All Ball showcases our talented students, who play a variety show-style concert with help from professional Philly musicians. When we cancelled this year's live concert due to COVID-19, we had no idea how supportive our family of students and friends could be. The number of students, alumni, staff, and friends who recorded performances for us to air during the digital concert was mind-boggling! Thank you so much to all of the talented musicians who helped make the Music for All Digital Ball a success.

Check out the full video on:

Within just one day, on April 18th 2020, Rock to the Future supporters donated $8,000, unlocking the matching gifts generously donated by two of our corporate sponsors; MOR Wealth Management provided a $3,000 match and FS Investments provided a $5,000 match to support Rock to the Future's free music programs. Thanks to their matches and your gifts, we have raised over $17,150 for music education so far!

The raffle and silent auction are open until Thursday, 4/30/20, so check out the prizes and place your bid!

Thank you so much for helping Rock to the Future continue to provide free, accessible music programs for Philadelphia youth. Your gift means so much to us, especially now as we transition to online music classes. Thank you.

Rocking from home – register for an online class!

Rock to the Future is helping students to rock from home.

Students can take 4-week live online classes in guitar, bass guitar, or keyboard, lead by a Rock to the Future teacher. Lessons are available for students at different levels, so beginners are welcome! Check out our schedule and register online. Classes are free and are open to all students in Philadelphia, but space is limited to allow our teacher to provide individual attention to students.

Digital music class uses Soundtrap to teach music theory and digital music production. Students don't need any experience to join, and because Soundtrap is run from a computer, students don't need to have an instrument at home to take these classes. Create loops and beats, break down and re-make popular songs, and collaborate with peers online!

Rock to the Future is also helping Philadelphia to get creative and mindful every day at noon. Join us on Facebook from 12:00-12:30 every afternoon for a Brain Break! Teachers and teaching artists will livestream activities in mindfulness, creative expression, hip hop, and digital music.

Scheduling the school day at home can be tough! If none of these classes fit your schedule, we can help you stay musical and creative with online music programs that you can access any time: online learning resources.

Stay safe and we'll see you in the virtual classroom soon!

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."

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.

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.


"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.


"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!

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.


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!