Bulger's Beat: Unique program brings the music into schools - WSMV Channel 4

Bulger's Beat: Unique program brings the music into schools

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Reading, writing and rock 'n' roll music are all on display in a unique program here in Nashville. Little Kids Rock connects underprivileged children with musical instruments.

Since 2005, the program has donated more than $500,000 worth of instruments and musical information to Metro Nashville Public Schools. Organizers believe the program makes kids better in all walks of life, and the latest proof came Wednesday from the third- and fourth-grade guitar pickers from Mt. View Elementary in Antioch.

Put a guitar in a third grader's hands, and you'll get some noise. But teach those kids how to play, and you'll eventually get beautiful music.

Nashville's John Oates, of Hall and Oates fame, is a big believer in the opportunity for underprivileged kids to learn music.

"It's been proven that music makes connections with kids through math and thinking. There are so many benefits," Oates said.

Tyler Baron, 10, already has a rock 'n' roll attitude, and unlike most musicians, a willingness to commit to an early morning, before-school gig.

"This is me, basically. This is who I am," he said. "Every day, I drive an hour to school just to be at this program. I like it a lot. It's just a way to express my feelings and let go."

Another student, Esther, is just 8 years old, but her American flag-painted fingernails are already fret-friendly. And her guitar is now a lifelong friend.

"Everything just comes to me," she said. "It's like you're whipping your fingers on the strings that make such a beautiful noise."

In the end, Little Kids Rock isn't about creating or finding the next best performer.

The goal is octaves higher.

"When they're involved in this program, their lives take on this whole new meaning," Oates said.

If you're of the mindset that the students should have less guitar and more math, consider a final word from Tyler.

"I'm an 'A' student in both math and guitar," he said.

Blues greats B.B. King and John Lee Hooker helped kick of the Little Kids Rock program when it began 10 years ago.

A celebrity fishing tournament in July will help raise money for more instruments.

Right now in Nashville, some 3,600 students are part of the program. Organizers hope to double that number in the next year.

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