Congressman Joseph Crowley joined the Rockin’ Bull Dogs at P.S. 83, to help raise awareness of the importance of musical education in students’ lives.
Beginning in 2007, the students of P.S. 83, where given a grant to purchase guitar labs, with 16 electric guitars for use of 5th through 8th grades, from the VH1 Save the Music Foundation.
“Having musical education benefits all other disciplines and brings up their test scores,” said music instructor Richard Giannotti. “It gives them incentive because it is a privilege and they want to be here.”
The VH1 Save the Music Foundation is a nonprofit organization restoring musical education programs in public schools around the country, totaling over $43 million worth of musical instruments in 1,600 schools throughout 100 cities, servicing more than 1.2 million students.
“We contributed to over 250 schools in New York City since the program started in 1997 in order to address the disparity that existed between schools,” said Laurie Locke, director of programs and policy for VH1 Save the Music Foundation. “The program here has really blossomed.”
The idea of the program is provide a school with a grant, and while continuing to monitor the program’s progress, let the school administration build on what they were given and develop it into something further.
For P.S. 83 this meant the addition of dozens of acoustic guitars and the birth of a rock band, the Rockin’ Bull Dogs.
“I was so excited when I first came back to school and saw a poster to try out for a band,” said Sal Sferruzza, 12, guitarist for the Rockin’ Bull Dogs. “At first I was a little iffy about it because I wasn’t sure I would be good enough, but I tried out and now I am pretty good.”
On Monday, May 4, Crowley slung a guitar over his shoulder and played along with the band in front of the school’s student counsel.
“We have so many talented kids coming forward, it is absolutely incredible,” said Principal Ben Soccodato. “It has really added a new dynamic to the school.”
Following the jam session, Crowley took questions from the students on his own musical education and the importance it had on his career and life choices.
“Music has played an incredibly important role in my life, and I know firsthand that music and the arts are far more than just entertainment – they have the power to change lives,” said Crowley.