Rockademix and The Constitution Song Featured in Teaching Music Magazine
Music can help kids learn academics. When the National Association of Music Education (NAfME) wrote a cover story about using music to teach interdisciplinary studies, they featured Rockademix, a new 501c3 nonprofit educational curriculum created by a unique team of teachers, Grammy Award-winning musicians, professors of education, and artists.
The article “Singing, Playing, and Studying The Blues” that appears in the April 2015 edition of NAfME’s Teaching Music magazine focuses on Rockademix’s use of blues music as a vehicle for teaching academic standards, but Rockademix songs use a variety of musical styles. Math is covered by the hip-hop song “Fractions Rock”, and the boogie-woogie “Apollo 13” teaches science and engineering. The fun, spoof heavy metal song “Big Dogs Beg” teaches short vowel sounds to emerging readers, and “Crossing Midline” (written with the help of special education experts) uses Led Zepellin-inspired power chords and lyrics to help children with special needs develop motor skills, body awareness, and vocabulary. Listen to Rockademix song samples here.
NAfME author Cathy Applefeld Olson talks about how Rockademix uses their new “Constitution Song” (written by Rockademix teacher Jon Schwartz, produced by blues legend/three-time Grammy winner Dennis Walker) to teach academics. Schools using the Constitution Song get the full Rockademix curriculum, complete with dance moves, kid-friendly leveled books written with a history professor, karaoke and how-to-draw art videos, and detailed lesson plans and student activities. The song and materials are even being made available in Spanish.
Because the diverse Rockademix components reach auditory, kinesthetic, visual, and collaborative learners, the program helps teach the whole child. According to Dr. Lori Heisler, Rockademix contributor and assistant professor of education at Cal State San Marcos, “Rockademix works because you’re tapping into children’s brains in a number of different ways. It’s a formula for long-term retention and learning.”
Rockademix is unique in how it is authentically kid-tested. For over 9 months, more than 20 kids ages 4-12 met in the free after school Rockademix program. They all learned together as a class using the Rockademix program, and their input helped shape the development of the materials. Founder Jon Schwartz has credentials in general and special education and has taught grades 1-6 for 15 years in culturally diverse public schools, and he made it his mission to prove that the program would work in any class.
“The Rockademix ‘test class’ was a real class. It was an incredibly diverse group of kids that wasn’t cherry picked. We put out flyers in English and Spanish and welcomed all comers, free of charge. Ironically, the fact that it was free forced us to create a better program. The kids and parents wouldn’t come back if they didn’t like it. We had to make academics through music interesting and doable for kids from kinder and fifth grade, all learning together at the same time. They kids helped us create a program that works for a wide age range.”
Rockademix is now being piloted at Ross Elementary, a culturally diverse school in Topeka, Kansas with over 1200 students. Ross is in the same school district as Monroe Elementary, the national historic site which brought the landmark Supreme Court Case ending segregation in public schools nationwide.
Stacy Neumann, who heads Rockademix implementation at Ross, says “Rockademix is arts integration at it’s finest. It’s an exciting way of instructing students. Addressing every learning style, students sing Rockademix to explore concepts for mastery rather than memorization. Using dancing, singing, and art captures the students’ interest and keeps them involved.” Read more about Ross Elementary’s experience with Rockademix here.
Also, stay tuned for the release of the first Rockademix CD, featuring “The Constitution Song,” and follow Rockademix on Twitter https://twitter.com/Rockademix