A hush fell over the eager crowd of students, teachers and parents gathered in the darkened auditorium of I.S. 162 in the Bronx. When the lights came up, the room shook with thunderous cheers, as nearly 50 elementary school students from neighboring P.S. 11 burst into Taylor Swift’s hit song, “Love Story.”
The synchronous strumming of dozens of guitars kicked off the second annual Music Will New York City Jam Summit, which featured more than 100 students, ages 8 to 18, from eight New York City Public Schools.
The young rockers preformed classics like Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” and Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” contemporary hits like Rihanna’s “What’s My Name,” and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Dani California,” and even student-composed original songs like “Scream and Yell,” which was written in class just three weeks prior.
“For these kids, this is like performing at Radio City Music Hall,” says Music Will Ambassador, Eddie Hager. “Having the bus pull up to the front of the school, loading up with their guitars to travel to a gig — this was an unbelievable experience for them.”
The event culminated with more than 100 student rockers from all of the participating schools taking the stage to perform a dynamic group version of Train’s “Hey Soul Sister.” It was the first time these kids had ever performed together.
Some of the rockers even danced up and down the aisles of the audience enthusiastically plucking their guitars as the stage was at max capacity. One zealous student, in true rock star style, shed his Music Will t-shirt and flung it into the audience!
“It’s so important that these students understand that they are part of something much bigger than the music class in which they participate each week,” said Allan Adkison, the Music Will teacher who hosted this year’s summit. “Each student belongs to a nationwide musical community that is 73,000 students strong… Music Will!”