Crowdsourcing brings kids music education and instruments

Students at Frankford High School will learn music theory and perform modern pop and hip-hop songs with the new equipment.

Students in Frankford High School’s Modern Band class perform “Halo” by Beyoncé at the school on Oct. 24. | LUKE SMITH / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The students pick the songs and Rebecca Wizov teaches them.

Wizov, a 2017 music education alumna, requested to start a Modern Band class at Frankford High School, on Oxford Avenue and Wakeling Street, after going through a certification process at Pennsylvania State University,

Wizov’s training came from Little Kids Rock, a national program that donates instruments to schools, trains music teachers and develops curriculums that include genres like rock, pop and hip-hop.

Wizov came up with the idea for the school’s Modern Band class where she demonstrates musical techniques for students who then choose the songs they want to play in class. The students tend to choose modern songs often hear on the radio, like pop and hip-hop songs.

”It’s going really well,” Wizov said. “They’re all playing the guitar and they’re playing songs they want to play and learning music through that.”

Frankford High School senior Curtis Lake sees the Modern Band class as a way to expand his music skills.

“It gives me a new experience with instruments I never thought about playing before,” Lake said. “We want to be a band, we don’t just want to play the same instruments. It gives more people chances to play instruments they really want to learn.”

In July, Wizov and other music teachers at about 15 high schools in the School District of Philadelphia purchased guitars and keyboards through a nearly $5 million grant from the Grammy Music Education Coalition. But Wizov wanted her Modern Band students to play other kinds of instruments, too.

Recently, an anonymous donor and several friends and family helped Rebecca Wizov crowdsource money for her music class.

Wizo raised an additional $700 for the school’s Modern Band class. The money will be used to purchase an acoustic-electric guitar, electric ukulele and 20 guitar capos, which clamp onto the neck of guitars and raises strings’ pitch by shortening their length.

“The fact that I was able to get it funded so quickly was amazing,” she said. “I was so grateful for the people I knew who contributed and the amount of anonymous donors as well.”

Adam Anderson, the chair of Frankford High School’s art department, said the crowdfunding is great for building a relationship between Wizov and her students.

“She’s doing whatever she can to provide for their needs and at the same time it makes them essentially connect with her more,” Anderson said.

Wizov’s dedication to connecting with her students inspires Lake.

“Ms. Wizov tries so hard to get people, and I’ve seen it in class, to try something new,” Lake said. “She’s trying so hard to push people to do better and I admire her for that.”

This is the second project Wizov has crowdsourced funding for through DonorsChoose, an online tool that helps public school teachers across the country raise money for supplies, books or trips. The website published Wizov’s campaign on Sept. 16, and she met her goal on Oct. 17. The new supplies are expected to arrive by mid-November.

The Modern Band students listen to the music they play through a Bose SoundTouch 10 wireless speaker, which was purchased with funding from DonorsChoose last year. After a DonorsChoose project is funded, a staff member from the organization purchases the materials and sends them to the school.

When Wizov started at Frankford High School two years ago, she was one of the first music teachers to join the school’s music program, which had been dormant for seven years. The music program now includes courses like Band, Vocal Music and Instrumental Music. Wizov also leads the school’s choir.

”It’s awesome because we get to build without any expectations of a previous program,” Wizov said. “We can see the results and we know it’s from our hard work and the students’ hard work.”

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