Little Kids Rock Hosts 10th Annual Modern Band Summit at CSU

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Queen of Percussion Sheila E. Delivers Inspiring Keynote and Teaches a Drumming Class

More than 400 teachers from around the country came together on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins recently for Little Kids Rock’s 10th Annual Modern Band Summit (MBS), presented by Bohemian Foundation. Another 150 teachers joined virtually. The Summit attracts educators from all walks of music-teaching life – from arts supervisors at state departments of education and teachers who work at rural, suburban, and inner-city schools to first-year teachers and retired department heads with decades of experience.

Over the past twenty years, Little Kids Rock has been dedicated to transforming lives by restoring, expanding, and innovating music education in public schools across the country. The nonprofit works with a national network of teachers to bring highly inclusive, culturally-responsive, student-centered music education to students, using genres including hip hop, rock, pop, Latin, and rap.

“For three days each year, teachers get to hone their craft, learn modern band curriculum to bring back to their classrooms, and recharge before school begins,” says Little Kids Rock founder and CEO, Dave Wish. “From the state of hip hop education and intro to pen tap to music as therapy and queer modern band, our Modern Band Summit empowers teachers to build music programs as diverse as the students they serve.”

The Queen of Percussion, Sheila E. served as the lunchtime keynote on Thursday inspiring a packed room full of teachers with the story of her music journey, work ethic, and passion for mentoring youth. Later in the day, she taught a drumming master class with standing room only.

The first in-person summit in two years, due to COVID, was a reunion for many of the teachers who have been attending since the program began in 2012.

“The Modern Band Summit always pumps me up for the new school year,” says Diane Harris, a preschool through 8th-grade music teacher from the Dallas Independent School District, who has attended every year. “It’s always such a positive experience learning new techniques and playing music with colleagues from around the country who feel like family.”

Currently, more than 550,000 kids participate in Little Kids Rock programs in 48 states including Colorado, with programs in Fort Collins, Denver, and Aurora. All of it is made possible by private funding and in some cases, state government support.

Fort-Collins-based Bohemian Foundation is the presenting sponsor of Modern Band Summit and a year-round partner of Little Kids Rock. Both organizations are involved in Take Note Colorado, a statewide initiative to provide equitable access to musical instruments and instruction to every K-12 student in Colorado.