After-School Rock Band Program Sparks Passion For Music

Wednesday November 29, 2023

The school of rock is now in session at Freedom Middle School (Rosedale Union School District). Students are participating in Rock Band, an after-school program where they learn to play various instruments, read music and perform contemporary rock songs.

Freedom’s Choir and Music Appreciation Teacher Denise Castro is teaching the students to play as a collaborative band, rotating the use of guitar, piano and other percussion instruments. She says it’s important to have hands-on instruction. 

“I noticed that if I could get instruments into the hands of the students, it might be more interesting for them,” she said.

Castro says a lot of students stopped participating in band and choir during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, so she brainstormed ideas to get the students more engaged. 

“I’ve been little-by-little building their interests, teaching them about music literacy and just starting them from scratch. And little-by-little, they’ve started falling in love and they’ve been wanting more,” she said.

Students play guitar, read music

This after-school program is made possible thanks to the Learning Recovery Grant. The statewide grant program was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to help students recover from learning losses sustained during lockdown. It provides funding for schools that implement education initiatives as well as address students’ mental health and social and emotional well-being.

Principal Matthew King says there are other after-school programs covered by the grant and the teachers have all done a great job getting the students engaged. 

“It’s really a matter of them feeling passionate about something they want to do and bring the kids that are going to either create a new learning opportunity or extend the learning,” he said.

They were singing, and they were playing, they were smiling at each other, connecting, and it was like this magical amazing moment that was so organic.”

Mrs. Castro says 23 students originally signed up for the program, and more have been asking to join. If it continues to be successful, the school may turn it into an elective class. She says it’s all about the students making connections and finding their passions. 

“They were singing, and they were playing, they were smiling at each other, connecting, and it was like this magical amazing moment that was so organic,” Castro said. 

The Rock Band will perform a few songs at the Freedom Middle School Choir concert December 19th at 6 p.m.

By Katie Avery

By Katie Avery

Katie Avery joined the Kern County Superintendent of Schools in 2023 as a Communications Specialist. As a former journalist and marketing professional, her passions include media and storytelling. Before joining KCSOS, Avery worked for various local TV stations as well as the health care industry.