Sweetwater to become national sponsor for children’s music education program

September 25th, 2017

The News-Sentinel

Fort Wayne-based music company Sweetwater will take another step in its efforts to expand music programs offered in schools.

Company founder and President Chuck Surack announced this afternoon that Sweetwater has become the national sponsor for Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit in Verona, N.J., that works nationally to expand music education in schools, a Sweetwater news release said.

Surack made the announcement at St. Joseph Central Elementary School, 6341 St. Joseph Center Road. With the help of Sweetwater, St. Joseph Central and five other Fort Wayne Community Schools elementary schools will begin offering Little Kids Rock's Modern Band program, Surack said.

The other participating FWCS elementary schools are Abbett, Maplewood, Price, Bloomingdale and Washington, the news release said.

Surack and Little Kids Rock representatives presented a donation of instruments to St. Joe Central teacher Laura McCoy, who was a high school classmate of Surack at Wayne High School.

Along with Sweetwater's monetary donations to Little Kids Rock, the company also will offer its customers a chance to donate to Little Kids Rock when making purchases on Sweetwater's website. The link is https://www.sweetwater.com/feature/little-kids-rock.

“Little Kids Rock is quickly joining the ranks of the traditional music education programs," Surack said the news release. "Its Modern Band model will engage the interest and participation of an expanding segment of our students, and, I believe, will someday be as important to the school music curriculum as jazz, concert and marching band, orchestra, and choral groups."

Modern Band teaches children to perform, improvise and compose music in styles they enjoy, such as rock, pop, reggae, hip hop, R&B, it said on the Little Kids Rock website, www.littlekidsrock.org. Modern Band classes include use of guitar, bass guitar, keyboard, drums, vocals, technology and computers.

The Modern Band program tries to build on students' cultural background and to involve children who may not participate in traditional music classes, the website said.

This is Sweetwater's second major initiative to encourage participation in music programs in FWCS schools.

In late August, Surack and his wife, Lisa, donated $500,000 and 100 orchestra and band instruments to the Fort Wayne Community Schools Foundation for its b instrumental student music program. The Suracks also helped the foundation kick off a $3 million fundraising drive to support the b instrumental program.

The b instrumental program provides a musical instrument to interested students in 7th grade in FWCS schools, which the students can continue using through high school. The program also hopes to provide increased use of new technology in music classes, training for music teachers, and small group or individualized instruction and a summer camp for students, the FWCS Foundation's website said.

The b instrumental program currently is offered in five FWCS middle schools — Lakeside, Miami, Shawnee, Lane and Northwood middle schools. Through the $3 million fundraising campaign, FWCS eventually hopes to expand the program to all 11 of its middle schools.

At the time of the b instrumental donations announcement, Surack touted the academic and personal benefits students receive from taking part in music programs.