Life Connected

LA Musicians Offer Free Music Lessons with New App

The Band Blast app offers lessons in rhythm, pitch and how to read music

Due to cuts in funding for music education in public schools a group of Southern California musicians has found a way to provide free music lessons over the Internet.

But a group of Southern California musicians found a way to provide free music lessons over the Internet.

Gloria Lum, a cellist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, got her music education in the public school system 30 years ago when funding for arts was more of a priority. She says access to music lessons changed the course of her life.

"When I’m playing, once I get beyond the notes and difficulty, what I’m looking to do is connect," Lum said. "That’s where our humanity lies in those moments where you have connection with somebody else."

But that connection is fading fast. Massive cuts to arts education in public schools means millions of low-income students no longer have access to music lessons.

Lum teamed up with LA musicians Brandon Bernstein and Terry Carter. The music teachers created a new app that offers free music lessons.

Lum is one of dozens of world class musicians who appear on the app. They give free music lessons that anybody can play along with.

The app called Band Blast also teaches rhythm, pitch and how to read music by making the lessons feel more like games.

“Kids growing up get entranced with these," Carter said. "If you can capture their imagination, but now do it in a way where they’re learning, but they don’t feel like they’re learning, they’re getting high scores and points and collecting stars, I think we really got something."

The musicians involved in the program say offering free lessons to a new generation is their way of giving back for the tremendous gift music has been in their lives.

"Any time you can get a bunch of kids together, get them to play together and listen to each other and try to create something greater than themselves, that’s what makes a society," Lum said. "That’s community, that’s connection. I think that’s what we desperately need today in our world.”

The music app is part of a program called Music Lifeboat. It is funded through the Pasadena Arts Council. The nonprofit is also working to get free instruments into the hands of public school kids.

If you’d like to donate or get involved visit their website

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article included a statistic about funding cuts to music programs that was inaccurate. We regret the error.

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