Superintendent Austin Beutner announced that Los Angeles Unified will expand its middle school music program in the coming year from the 5,000 students currently participating to more than 10,000.
Every student in the program learns to play in a teacher-led music class and receives an instrument, as well as access to the Fender Play app. Fender is providing guitars and Fender Play free of charge to all students in the program. The expansion of this program puts the school district well on the way to the goal of providing this opportunity for every student.
The music program launched last June, when students received free guitars, basses and ukuleles from Fender Play Foundation. They participated in teacher-led lessons and made new friends in a community of musicians when the pandemic had everyone longing for connection.
“In the midst of a global pandemic, we knew children would need, more than ever, a way to connect with one another,” Beutner said. “We reached out to Fender and they answered the call to serve.”
Music teacher Eloy Adame said Los Angeles Unified’s partnership with Fender provided new opportunities for him to share his talent and love of music with students.
“The one thing that really stands out for me has been the scope of the program,” he said. “I am teaching students from the north, south, east and west corners of Los Angeles and there is no way I could have reached all those students before.”
Juliet Ponce, a sixth-grade student at South Gate Middle School Science/Technology/Math Magnet, said the Fender program gave her a creative outlet when schools were closed due to the pandemic.
“When I needed to take a break, I could practice songs on my bass and find new ones,” she said. “It really was amazing.”
Brenda Ponce, Juliet’s mother, said the Fender program has taught the 11-year-old more than just music.
“She has learned to focus and be responsible and how to meet other students,” Ponce said. “It’s wonderful that she has this opportunity.”
“Middle school is such an important time for young students to get exposure to music instruction,” Fender CMO Evan Jones said. “We’ve been so inspired by our partnership with Los Angeles Unified and the impact this program is having on the students and their families. We are committed to growing this program, extending it to even more Los Angeles Unified students in the coming years.”
Beutner also visited SoFi Stadium last week to congratulate the almost 250 middle school students in the program who taped a performance with Grammy and Oscar Award-winning artist H.E.R. for the Global Citizen event: “VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World.” Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez, the Foo Fighters and President Joe Biden will also appear in the event, which will be televised nationally on May 8.
“Los Angeles Unified students will perform on a global stage alongside some of the world’s brightest stars and world leaders,” Beutner said. “For me, it’s Christmas come early and a dream come true. I’m a music kid – as a shy fifth-grader in my third different elementary school, it was a teacher handing me a cello who changed my world. I found friends and I found my voice. Whether it’s in music, art, sports, academics or other activities, we want to provide that same opportunity for every student to find their voice.”
For information, visit lausd.net.
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