Musician Steven Van Zandt on a mission to get more arts programs in schools
A rock star who holds a special place in the hearts of New Jersey fans says that he believes music and the arts are one of the best ways to keep kids interested in school.
Steven Van Zandt is a rock ‘n’ roll icon and actor. But he is also on a musical mission to educate kids.
“The entire process of education needs to include the arts,” he says.
Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation launched TeachRock, which provides teaches with a free curriculum for their students.
“We ask them, as you suggest, ‘Who is your favorite artist?’ And then we trace them back. Where do they come from? And it holds their attention because it is a subject they are very comfortable with,” he says.
Van Zandt says that the arts give students a reason to want to learn and can even prevent them from dropping out of school.
“Statistics show if a kid likes one single class or one single teacher, they will come to school. Well, we want to be that class,” Van Zandt says.
He says that he has seen a change in how the class is being used as a resource because of the pandemic.
“We’re in over 100 countries now – all 50 states, over 40,000 teachers registered. We just went public with it last year. So, it has been a successful outreach. But we did see an increase during the pandemic,” Van Zandt says.
On Dec. 21, the nonprofit will stream an all-star fundraising event called "Stand with Teachers." It features Van Zandt, Eddie Vedder and a host of other entertainers to help propel all types of learning through the arts.
“We want to turn STEM into STEAM and add the arts because it is that important,” Van Zandt says.
While the pandemic has kept Van Zandt from going on tour, he will next month release “Macca To Mecca,” a CD and DVD of a live performance of Beatles songs that his band Disciples of Soul performed in England.
Van Zandt says that he is hoping that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band will be able to tour on the new “Letter to You” album by 2022.