What happens when you bring together 35 school age kids, a group of talented musicians, 27 guitars (electric and acoustic) and 5 keyboards?  You get SCHOOL OF ROCK @ PPL!!

For the second year in a row Pasadena Public library gave a group of kids (ages 10-16) a rock and roll experience they’d never forget.  Dr. Thomas Foster, Ambassador for the Little Kids Rock Foundation and professional jazz/rock/blues guitarist Kimberly (KC) Allison from Starliner Music worked in tandem to provide guitar and keyboard instruction.  Dr Foster also taught the children a lesson on musical beats and rhythm.  All of this culminated in a final group performance of “My Girl” by The Temptations. Prior to the program only five of the 35 students had even touched a guitar/keyboard,  Click onto the videos below to listen to what they accomplished after only 45 minutes of instruction!

Part I 

Part II

The Program’s Structure

Our program began with a brief PowerPoint overview of the history of rock and roll going back to its roots in blues and jazz, a discussion of the instruments needed to form the basic “rock” band and an overview of tabs versus chords, acoustic versus electric guitars, pedal boards, and more.  KC Allison also played a medley of songs to illustrate the evolution of rock music from the 1940s through the 2000s.

Let’s listen to her rendition of Brian May’s solo in Queen’s We Will Rock You.  You’ll notice the children participating in a rhythmic body percussion exercise in time to the beat of the music.

After the presentation, children chose their instruments.  Once instruments were assigned, the learning began.


This is what it sounded like BEFORE it all came together.


Kids on bass guitars.

 Questions for Dr. Foster.

Figuring out the chords.


The program concluded with KC Allison (lead guitar) and the library’s very own Derek Massengale (bass guitar), Larry Mudica (electric guitar) and Sebastian O’Brien (lead singer) performing a few songs as part of PPL’s first ever Rock and Roll band.  Here’s a bit of footage of them playing Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”.

A special thanks to Tony Sauza (Regional Program Director for the Los Angeles Chapter of the Little Kids Rock Foundation) for lending us 27 guitars and five keyboards for the program.  We’d also like to recognize Dr. Thomas Foster (Ambassador for the Little Kids Rock Foundation) who shared his time and talent with our students.  Little Kids Rock restores and expands music education in schools and libraries. The organization has a network of thousands of K-12 teachers across 45 states that brings innovative and inclusive music education to kids.

This is only the beginning!  Make sure to check the library’s Off the Shelf newsletter for more collaborative music programs in the upcoming year.