Let’s Do This!

On Giving Tuesday, people donate to the charities and nonprofits that are close to their hearts. This Giving Tuesday, Nov. 28, our supporters went above and beyond for Rock to the Future! We’re already halfway to our year-end fundraising goal. We didn’t think we could get there so soon!

With your help, we can reach our goal this year and give the gift of music to underserved students in Philadelphia.

This year, every donation will be matched up to $25,000 by a generous donor – that means your donation is doubled. Thank you for your support. You rock!


Ethan is a RockStar

When Relapse Records approached RTTF about donating all proceeds from the 2017 Relapse Sampler, we were thrilled. And when they asked if the MusiCore students could learn a song from their roster of metal, punk, and industrial bands, Ethan immediately leapt to mind. Now, Ethan and the RTTF House Band are learning the song Bent Nail from shoegaze band Nothing.

Ethan started at RTTF in 2011, when his only musical experience was playing 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,” his mom said. “Rock to the Future has given Ethan tools to build a future.”

Ethan has been in the RTTF House Band for the past five years. The House Band relies on teamwork, which Ethan says usually goes smoothly: “We work pretty well. There’s some days, but everything’s been going good so far.” Many of the students are multi-instrumentalists – Ethan places equal emphasis on  the drums and guitar. He says both instruments are actually similar, since “they’re both about speed and tempo.” Choosing what instrument each student will play on a song could be a source of conflict, but the students decide together by having a conversation, listening to each other, and working through any issues together. Since Ethan has been in the House Band the longest, he feels responsible for the group. He likes working with his bandmates on stage and off, since they all respect each other: “I know they like what I do.”

Ethan isn’t just working with the House Band; he’s also working on his challenge piece for the Winter Showcase. He’s practicing Rage Against the Machine’s Bulls on Parade; “Me being me, I just looked them up. They’re catchy.” Along with his musical tastes, Ethan’s also pretty famous for his unique, hand-made jackets and vests. First, he looks for inspiration online, then he shops around for supplies. His motto? “Right vest, right patches, right bands.”

Nothing and the RTTF House Band are still fine-tuning Bent Nail. They practiced together for the first time during the Teen Lounge Open House last Friday. Check them out!

If you like their performance, why not download the Relapse Records 2017 Sampler? The sampler is a great overview of the bands on Relapse Records, and 100% of the proceeds from this year’s sampler will be donated to RTTF! Downloading the sampler is another great way to support young musicians like Ethan as they learn the value of dedication, trust, and hard work – on stage and in life!

If you’d like to help us reach out year end fundraising goal, please donate through the link below. All donations made prior to 12/31 will be matched by a generous supporter!


Give Shaun the Magic of Music

Five days a week, a 9th-grader named Shaun travels an hour by bus from Germantown to meet his siblings Myriah and Jamaine at Rock to the Future (RTTF). This is Shaun’s second year attending the MusiCore after school program in North Philadelphia.

Shaun comes to RTTF every day because he loves to play the drums. He starting playing drums when he was three: “Whatever I heard in my head, I started playing. I’d play on the table, on the floor.” Now, he looks forward to spending his afternoons “drumming and making friends.”

Shaun struggles in school, but last year he improved his grades in all of his core classes. He has shown the RTTF staff how seriously he is trying to exceed the program’s academic expectations; now he’s focusing on his biology grades. He’s also working to meet his own musical goals. Shaun has set a personal goal of joining the RTTF student house band this year as a drummer. He recently mastered paradiddles, and he’s learning “Detroit” by Red Hot Chili Peppers to play in his upcoming recital.

Every year, he looks forward to performing on stage: “They turn on all the concert lights on the stage. I liked how the lights were shining on me.”

When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Shaun has lots of ideas; the possibilities now seem endless. As a RTTF student, Shaun is learning valuable skills that go beyond music, like teamwork, self-confidence, and how to set and achieve goals. With the life skills he’s learning at RTTF, Shaun will be ready for every stage.

Thanks to our generous supporters, Rock to the Future is able to offer free programming and music education for hundreds of students like Shaun every year. By supporting RTTF, you help us:

  • Provide free music education programming for over 300 youth in 2017
  • Create an environment where kids of all ages and abilities feel confident, safe, and respected enough to share their voice
  • Provide pathways out of poverty using music. Since inception, 100% of our MusiCore after-school program graduates have gone on to college or trade school.

At RTTF, we know that music can inspire and motivate kids and young adults to achieve. Your support of our year-end giving drive will help us to meet our $25,000 goal, which will be matched this year by a generous donor – that means that your donation is doubled!

Will you give the magical gift of music this year to help kids like Shaun?


Teen Music Lounge Starts September 29

Join us on September 29th for our first session!

Rock to the Future is proud to present our new free Teen Music Lounge! This weekly Friday program provides teens with a safe and positive space to learn music, create their own projects, collaborate with other teens, and opportunities for monthly exhibitions. Each month will feature a different guest music teacher and exciting workshops on hip-hop, songwriting, voice and vocal improvisation, instrumental instruction on guitar, bass, drums, and piano, recording, digital music and technology, the influence and power of music to make change, and more.

If you’re a Philly teen between the ages of 13 to 17, come to our information session on September 29th, 4-6pm! We’re going to introduce the candidates for this year’s line-up of potential guest music teachers and ask you to help us pick the finalists. No prior musical experience is necessary and beginners are welcome. Food will be provided also.

Let us know if you’re coming! The Teen Music Lounge is a drop-in program, so you don’t need to RSVP for our regular sessions (every Friday from 4 – 6pm), but we’d like to know in advance for this first event. Teen Music Lounge takes place at 2139 E Cumberland St, Phila, PA 19125. Contact Josh@RocktotheFuture.org or 215-302-9633 x710 for questions or concerns. 

Please share this opportunity with Philly teens.Teen Music Lounge is supported by the Bartol Foundation.

RSVP for Sept 29

Rock to the Future partners with the Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles are renowned for the philanthropic work they perform through their Eagles Care initiative. For the past three years, Philly’s NFL team has partnered with five local nonprofits around the city to positively impact the surrounding community. This year, Rock to the Future is one of them along with MANNA, After School Activities Partnerships, Living Beyond Breast Cancer and Summer Search.

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  • We’re incredibly excited for this opportunity! As a 2016-2017 Eagles Care partner, Rock to the Future will receive a generous grant, peer-to-peer networking, professional development from Eagles’ staff, access to events such as NFL games and various other benefits (hopefully an opportunity for our students to perform at the Linc!) We are proud to partner with the Eagles and look forward to spending the upcoming year with their winning team. We’ll have a lot of exciting announcements over the coming months–so stay tuned!

Apply now for our MusiCore after school program

After a long day in the classroom, playing music can be the perfect way to unwind. From September thru June, Rock to the Future makes this possible by way of our MusiCore after school program. On weekdays from 3 to 6 pm, we offer private instructional lessons on contemporary musical instruments (guitar, bass, drums, piano) as well as lessons on music theory, band practices and much more. Our students even perform at REAL venues and record their original music in professional studios. The program provides a full music experience in a judgement-free, positive environment!

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  • Our MusiCore students also receive daily homework help, subject specific tutoring, and even college application assistance for high school seniors. Many MusiCore students increase their grade point average and a whopping 100% attend college.

The MusiCore program is provided at no cost for underserved Philadelphia youth in grades 6 – 12.

We are currently accepting applications for the MusiCore program at Rock to the Future. Click for more information on the program here, including requirements for participation, and sign-up below!


Rock to the Future is now on Bandcamp

Not only does Rock to the Future teach underserved youth contemporary music, but it also provides many other amenities typically reserved for real rock stars. For instance, students are given the opportunity to jam, write and perform music live with peers–all awesome opportunities to anyone with a passion for performing music.

For the fifth year in a row, our bands had the chance to record an original song live at the studio. You can hear each band’s performance as part of our annual release, titled “MusiCore Original Songs 2015-2016,” over at our Bandcamp page.

  • The coolest opportunity Rock to the Future provides, however, may be ability to record original music in a professional music studio.
  • This is possible because of MAD Dragon Studios, an operation of Drexel University. It seems fitting that the largely student-run studio is the perfect place for our own students to record their original music to tape!

Rock to the Future– a proud part of Women Making History

On Sunday, July 24th, a handful of Rock to the Future members were privileged enough to provide live music for the Women Making History Celebration and Awards Ceremony. Taking place at The Walnut Club, the event celebrated women’s accomplishments across various fields.

Four young women from our house band contributed music to the occasion. Their set featured covers of two native Philadelphian women, P!NK and Joan Jett, as well as an original track written by Rock to the Future House Band vocalists/guitarists Lily and Cheyenne.

View a video commemorating the live performance below!


We brought Rock & Roll to the Camden Children’s Garden


July 23rd and 24th saw Philadelphia sweat through the hottest weekend of the year. Just across the water, we set-up shop at the Camden Children’s Garden in support of WXPN’s XPoNential Festival. From Saturday through Sunday, we gave over 100 youth an introduction to music through our Instrument Zoo and Shaker Station.

At the Instrument Zoo, children could try out instruments such as guitar, bass, keyboard and various pieces of auxiliary percussion (maraca, tambourine, etc.). A very special feature was a PVP Pipe Xylophone made by our very own Cameron Dewhitt. Beside the Instrument Zoo was the Shaker Station. Here, children could make shakers out of toilet paper rolls, raw macaroni and some creative spirit.


Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Performance

The sun shone brightly on the early morning of June 10th. On that Friday morning, a van was packed outside an old church – Rock to the Future’s Headquarters – in the Fishtown / Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia. Inside the van? All the makings of a rock & roll show—electric guitars, basses, keyboards and drums and seven young rockers from the Rock to the Future student house band eager to play.

Over the course of the day, the van carried these young rock stars across new terrain, 440 miles to rock & roll’s greatest monument: The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The Hall represents one of the highest achievements a modern musician can obtain. After a seven hour trek, the seven rockers arrived at the Hall’s gates, ready to immortalize themselves in their own way.

Rock to the Future’s House Band was a featured guest at the showcase, the lone representative of Philadelphia amongst a series of acts from all across the country. The set (listed below) spanned fifty years of rock and pop, taking the audience all the way from Barret Strong’s 1959 hit “Money” to The Black Keys 2012 jam “Gold on the Ceiling. By the end of the set, the house band stepped off stage satisfied—they had made themselves, Rock to the Future and Philadelphia proud before the massive Cleveland monument.

The trip to Cleveland was highlighted by the house band’s participation in the Hungry for Music Showcase and instrument drive on June 11th. Hungry for Music, a Washington D.C.-based organization that provides musical instruments to those in need, has supported Rock to the Future since 2014, providing musical equipment like guitars, drums, keyboards, bass guitars and amps for the MusiCore after-school program, summer camps, and in-school electric guitar classes. Rock to the Future would like to personally thank Hungry for Music and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for the incredible opportunity!
RTTF House Band Setlist:
Money by Barret Strong (1959)
I Saw Her Standing There by The Beatles (1963)
My Girl by The Temptations (1965)
Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones (1966)
I Want You Back by The Jackson 5 (1969)
Walk This Way by Aerosmith (1975)
One Way or Another by Blondie (1978)
I Love Rock & Roll by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (1981)
Under Pressure by Queen & David Bowie (1981)
Old Time Rock and Roll by Bob Seger the Silver Bullet Band (1978)
Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana (1991)
Gold On the Ceiling by The Black Keys (2012)