Almost time to ‘Let ’em Play’

Thursday, October 30, 2008
By Mark S. Porter
Of the Montclair Times

Their membership is made of moms and dads who, years ago, put aside guitar amplifiers and microphones to raise children in Montclair.

Thanks to organizing dynamo Alma Schneider, many former performers have signed onto Schneider’s social and musical cyclone, Parents Who Rock.

Along with motivating responsible adults to rival their children in performing rock music, PWR has become a local vehicle to raise funds for local nonprofits.

PWR’s focus this year is to raise $50,000 for the Little Kids Rock organization, a nationwide group that provides guitars, basses and drums, along with trained instructors, to schools. Little Kids Rock’s founder and executive director, David Wish, is a Montclair resident who intends to bring his organization’s prowess to the Montclair School District.

"You need to be a board-certified teacher to volunteer to teach music in the Little Kids Rock program. We have two of them in Parents Who Rock who are going to be volunteers for this," said Schneider. She cited Avril Fagan, who teaches at Edgemont Montessori School, and Alisa Harmon, who teaches students enrolled in the Developmental Learning Center."

"Parents Who Rock and Little Kids Rock are terrific groups, and Alma Schneider has done a terrific job garnering support in the public schools," said Mayor Jerry Fried. "The program is great. It’s a step in the right direction.

"Having the Little Kids Rock program in the schools is a top-notch way to provide music education, but it’s really just a step. We have to find a way to find more funding for music education."

New CD

Parents Who Rock will release its second compilation of music performed by members. The CD, "Let ’em Play," will be released in mid-November, she said.

"Greg Calbi is mastering our CD, and Dave Cushing is once again producing our CD. We have over 20 songs on it," said Schneider, who noted that Cushing produced PWR’s debut release, "Go Play Outside."

"We’ll be selling it in more than 20 stores," Schneider told The Times.

Holiday fundraisers

PWR will perform a concert and a "Holiday Sample Sale" on Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Andrew Tedesco Gallery on North Willow Street. Twenty percent of the profits of the sale will go to Little Kids Rock’s local goal.

Performers are embarking on Parents Who Rock House Gigs, in which volunteers will host PWR performances in their homes. "You can throw a party or, if you’re already planning a party, you can turn it into a fundraising effort," Schneider said. "We now have 15 people. We’d love 100 people hosting these parties with a token Parents Who Rock concert in their home. You can charge $10 or $20, whatever you’re comfortable charging."

Rock of ages

Parents Who Rock has evolved into new elements. For the first time in the organization’s history, there will be a concert performed by kids. This show will be held in Diva Lounge on Bloomfield Avenue, with the date to be announced.

And there’s a new offshoot: Grandparents Who Rock.

"This is for more ‘seasoned’ parents," Schneider said of the members.

Jill Berke, who suggested creating the offshoot, described its membership as "grandparentally aged."

Berke said she was inspired by her boyfriend, Jim Steiner, who won a first-place award in the Adult Division of the New Jersey Sings competition. "He won at age 69 against people less than half his age," Berke said. "This is about spirit, and people who would like to share the spirit."

"We are looking for grandparents and grandparent wannabees to be involved in the Grandparents Who Rock show," stated Schneider of a concert Berke said would likely occur in February 2009 in the Diva Lounge.

People can contact Schneider at

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