What does music look like to you? What if you were blind?
Launched in the Fall of 2010, Beat Rockers is the pioneering program which utilizes the art of beatboxing as a tool for musical self-expression serving students who are blind and/or have multiple disabilities at The Lavelle School for the Blind in the Bronx. By teaching ways to create music using their bodies as instruments, the program re-imagines the idea of needing to “learn” an instrument in order to make music. The students already are the instruments.
Whether contributing through beatboxing, singing, playing piano, clapping, or dancing, the program provides students with the creative tools and platform to actively participate in a larger musical conversation. There are never any wrong notes, scales or octaves in beatboxing, and the songs are created by adding layers over layers of repeating sounds. As each student’s contribution is added, meshed, then layered over each other, a unique and beautiful musical dialogue between all the participants begins to emerge. In this collaborative context, students grow to understand that despite any physical disability, each student has a voice and each student is the embodiment and personification of music.
There aren’t too many things our students can tap into and connect with, a lot of them feel isolated… the big draw with Beat Rockers wasn’t just music, they were able to use their voices and collaborate with each other, something they don’t have the opportunity to do.
- Diane Tucker, Principal, Lavelle School for the Blind
Through four years of the Beat Rockers program, over 70 students who are blind or have visual impairments have been empowered by using music and beatboxing as a new way to communicate, collaborate and self-express. We have literally grown up with our students and have experienced the profound and positive social, emotional, behavioral, and therapeutic impact of creating new, original music every week, no matter the students’ disabilities or music proficiency.
Ultimately, our purpose for the funding is to continue to serve this particular population of students at The Lavelle School for the Blind, as well as developing methods to teach, share and publish our work with a larger audience of educators, speech therapists, beatboxers and musicians. We are currently developing a methodology that will add beatboxing as a communication learning tool in order to provide speech therapists a fun, creative, interactive and music based learning option to help students reach their goals related to pronunciation, enunciation, writing, and reciting. We want to encourage and advance the understanding that there indeed exists a mutually beneficial collaborative link between beatboxers/musicians with special needs educators for the blind and speech therapists.
With your financial support, help us make a long-term program commitment to The Lavelle School for the Blind as well as acknowledging and servicing the needs of students who are blind, have visually impairments or multiple physical/cognitive disabilities, through the power of collaboration and language learning through music and beatboxing.
Beat Rockers is instructed by renowned producer, pianist, live musician and beatboxer, Taylor McFerrin, and assisted by professional beatboxer, Michael Chervony (aka Beatsmyth). Astounding support has been shown by the beatboxing community as a whole and we are proud to have had professional beatboxers Chesney Snow and Adam Matta also teach and play an important role in developing the program. Internationally recognized beatboxers from Tokyo to Toronto have been guests as well as hometown heroes and beatboxing icons like Kenny Muhammad and Masai Electro. All of our teaching artists and guests are inspirational mentors and championed motivators for the students at The Lavelle School of the Blind. The majority of the funding will be to ensure the students at Lavelle will be instructed by the best professional teaching artists in New York City.
Thank you for your time, support and consideration!
Fortunately, the Beat Rockers program has just finished its fourth year of programming. The instructors, curriculum, students, school and infrastructure have been established, and the on-going challenge is to make sure there is sufficient funding to keep the program rooted and growing for years for years to come.
The challenges we are currently facing arise out of our desire to take the successes we have accomplished from the past four years and applying that knowledge in ways that can create an even greater impact for the students and staff at Lavelle, and blind students all over the world.
Our first priority would be to secure funding for Beat Rockers for at least the next two school years (September, 2014 - June, 2016). Our next priority and challenge would be identifying and hiring the necessary personnel to document and develop a proven method to use beatboxing as a communication learning tool for students who have limited vocalization capabilities. Countless studies have proven a distinct and positive correlation between music and learning. We intend to apply that correlation specifically to beatboxing as verbal communication learning tool.
Any and all funds raised above our goal will be spent towards future rounds of Beat Rockers programming.
Framed 11"x14" Photographic Print of Q-Tip (A Tribe Called Quest) or Questlove (The Roots) by HUMAN Photography + Listing as Supporter on BEATNYC.ORG website + Signed Taylor McFerrin CD + R-16 International B-Boy Competition DVD + ALL PREVIOUS ITEMS
Framed 16" x 20" Photographic Print of Afrika Bambaataa by Joe Conzo + Listing as Supporter on BEATNYC.ORG website + “Born in the Bronx” Book Signed by Joe Conzo (while supplies last) + Signed Taylor McFerrin CD + R-16 International B-Boy Competition DVD + Official B.E.A.T. t-shirt + Five B.E.A.T. Stickers + Downloads of BEAT ROCKERS first album + BEAT Mixtape
Private Beatboxing/Emcee tutorial workshop at NYC location of your choice + Listing as Supporter on BEATNYC.ORG website + Signed Taylor McFerrin CD + R-16 International B-Boy Competition DVD + Official B.E.A.T. t-shirt + Five B.E.A.T. Stickers + Downloads of BEAT ROCKERS compilation album + BEAT Mixtape