New Scholarship Administrator for the RSSF!

monica-DSC_0266The Rock School Scholarship Fund has a new Scholarship Administrator starting on Monday, March 14th! Monica Bowden has a background in accounting and finance, AND she’s owned and run the day-to-day operations of a rock music school! She can be reached at

She will be taking over for Jessica Morris, who was recruited by Universal Studios in Orlando to work with their creative team producing live shows for their theme park.

Monica will be the new primary point person for questions about scholarships, billing, fund balances, and fundraiser flyer approvals.

We wish Jessica the very best in her new venture, and we will miss her!

Please join us in welcoming Monica!

New Fiscal Sponsee – Paramount Academy of Music!

Grand Opening Saturday, January 30th!



Fiscal sponsorship is a formal arrangement in which a 501(c)(3) public charity, such as the RSSF, agrees to sponsor a project that furthers our mission, for the purpose of fundraising through grants, donations and events. This alternative to starting your own nonprofit allows you to seek grants and solicit tax-deductible donations for your youth music scholarship fund, with the oversight, support and endorsement of the RSSF.

You are eligible to apply if you are:

  • An after-school music program that wants to have a scholarship fund that is branded with your school name, and managed by the RSSF
  • A music artist that wants to have a legacy scholarship fund in your name to help low income youth receive a music education at any participating music school in the USA


The RSSF administers the Paramount Academy of Music Scholarship Fund, and will be managing others, as well.

For more information, please email

Katy Perry Signed Baby Taylor Guitar



Take home a Baby Taylor guitar signed by Katy Perry, PLUS a high resolution photo of her signing the guitar in her studio!


The ¾-size Baby Taylor firmly established the travel guitar category years ago and today is more popular than ever. At the heart of it all is an authentic guitar sound and inviting playing experience. Featuring a layered sapele back and sides and a top of solid Sitka spruce, you can add a capo, high-string it, tune it down, play it around the campfire, help your kids form their first guitar chords — however you use it, it’s always fun to have one within reach.

Established in 1974 by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug, Taylor Guitars has evolved into one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium acoustic and electric guitars.

Katy Perry cemented her status as a best-selling superstar with the global success of her second studio album, “Teenage Dream,” which debuted at No. 1 in eight countries and spent more than two years on Billboard’s Top 200 album sales chart. She became the only female artist to have five No. 1 singles from one album on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (“California Gurls,” “Teenage Dream,” “Firework,” “E.T.” and “Last Friday Night”). The special edition, “Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection,” added “Part of Me” and “Wide Awake” to Katy’s list of nine Top 40 chart-toppers (dating back to her multi-platinum debut album, 2008’s “One of the Boys,” which generated four hit singles: “I Kissed A Girl,” “Hot N Cold,” “Thinking of You” and “Waking Up In Vegas”). “Roar,” the first single from her third album, “Prism,” became Katy’s 10th No. 1 Top 40 track after debuting at No. 1 on iTunes in 68 countries with 557,024 downloads in its first week of release, the biggest digital song sales week of 2013. A successful follow-up single, “Unconditionally,” was released in late 2013, followed by “Dark Horse,” which helped Katy set the record at Top 40 for most total weeks (46) at No. 1 in the Billboard airplay chart’s archives, and makes her the only artist in 2014 with top spins at three different radio station formats (Top 40, Hot AC and AC radio). She is the first artist to surpass the 75 million digital award threshold, counting digital downloads and on-demand streams, and the only artist ever with two videos (“Roar” and “Dark Horse”) at over 1 billion views on Vevo. She has just completed 151 dates on the Prismatic World Tour, which was a hugely successful global spectacle, with sold out arenas in the UK, North America, Australia/New Zealand, Europe, Asia and South America, where Katy also headlined Rock In Rio in Brazil.
Donated by: Katy Perry

Spend a Full Day in the Studio With Greg Wells in LA



Spend 7 hours in the studio working with multiple Grammy nominated producer and musician Greg Wells! Use the time to record your favorite song, write a song, be mentored, get feedback on several songs – the time is yours!  Greg has produced and written hits with Adele, Katy Perry, OneRepublic, Twenty One Pilots, Mika, Rufus Wainwright, Pink, and many others.  His songs appear on 85 millions albums sold.


Few producers in music can rival the pedigree and resume of Grammy-nominated producer, mixer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Greg Wells. The man The Police’s Stewart Copeland once dubbed “the Swiss Army knife” for his wide range of skills has crafted hits for everyone from Katy Perry and Adele to Timbaland featuring OneRepublic. Wells’ career has transcended sonic guidance, as the fluent guitarist, bassist, drummer and keyboard player has mastered the balance between hands-on help and drawing out an artist’s own sound regardless of genre.

In contrast to many of his peers, Wells’ career has never been about creating an aural stamp to imprint a “signature sound.” Despite his vast knowledge and lifelong interest in music, Wells prefers to be a guiding sensei in the studio rather than an overshadowing presence. “You have to jump into the pool with the artist and quickly assess what’s happening,” says Wells. “You want to hear somebody lost in their own performance with a complete lack of self-consciousness. For me, the goal is to shine the best light on the artist themselves and help them be as true to themselves as possible. I’m more the basketball coach than the player.” It’s this philosophy that has helped Wells write and produce some of the best-selling and highest-charting tracks of the past 15 years.

Wells scored his first mega-hit with Celine Dion’s “The Reason,” a track co-written with Carole King and Mark Hudson. Produced by Sir George Martin, the track became a Top 5 hit in Europe and helped the album Let’s Talk About Love sell more than 30 million copies worldwide. Wells’ keen, adept musicality, versatility and mastery of multiple instruments quickly became the worst-kept secret in the industry as artists ranging from One Republic (“Apologize”, “Stop and Stare”), pop superstar Pink (“Why Did I Ever Like You”) to singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright (“Across the Universe”) to Adele (“One & Only) all called on Wells to write, produce or perform on the track. “It’s about trying to create something compelling, regardless of genre,” says Wells. “I grew up listening to everything and never wanted to limit myself to one particular sound.”

In 1990, Wells moved to Los Angeles and hooked up with famed jazz composer, piano player and Prince’s string arranger Clare Fischer. It was Fischer who began recommending Wells for work and eventually, the songwriter would link with famed music industry executive Miles Copeland, founder of I.R.S. records and manager of The Police. After recording, and subsequently shelving, his own album — “It was a super-informative lesson in what never to repeat” — Wells turned to producing and writing for others. “I’m a musician first,” says Wells. “I am often the full band like on [Mika’s] ‘Grace Kelly’ and [Katy Perry’s] ‘By The Grace Of God’” That base knowledge is essential and rare, and it’s why rapper Theophilus London can roll to Wells’ private studio in the morning and Katy Perry can cut a track later that afternoon with both feeling confident with the results.

It is this diversity, versatility and musical fluency that continues to make him one of the most talented and sought-after producers, songwriters and musicians in the industry.
Donated by: Greg Wells

Give the Drummer Some …


This article by Steve Hochman first appeared on the Causes and Effect: My Year of Giving Daily blog. Reprinted with permission.

It was Sunset Strip night at a Chicago-area club recently — local musicians honoring the ‘80s hair-metal heyday of the genre’s Ground Zero, the West Hollywood stretch of the famed boulevard.

Behind the drums, Todd Kiefer was playing it up for all it was worth, glammed-out in Spandex pants, a zebra-striped shirt and make-up, his blond hair teased out in a rock ’n’ roll lion’s mane. Twirling his sticks with rock ’n’ roll flare, he powered the band through such era-defining hits as Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” and Warrant’s “Cherry Pie.”

Todd is 12. The other musicians, too, were adolescents and teens, all performing as a culmination of the program they attend at the local School of Rock, a franchise of the music education chain spun from the success of the Jack Black-starring movie that gave it the name.

The thing is, just a couple of years before this concert, it was unthinkable that Todd could do such a thing. It was unthinkable that he could do much of anything.

“He was diagnosed some years ago as developmentally delayed,” says his mother, Lesa Kiefer.

There were some special programs at his school, but they were suspended a few years ago.

“He had to go into a special gym class, had no body control,” she says, noting that while he has never been diagnosed as such, he likely would be considered to be on the autism spectrum. “He doesn’t have friends.  He is an odd child. I love him for it, but he’s a unique human being.”

And that presents a challenge.

“We were looking for something for my son to participate in. His older brother is extremely musical, extremely smart. We had to find something that is individually Todd’s.”

Then, a little more than two years ago, the School of Rock outlet opened just a block from their house. And despite his lack of physical coordination, his parents had a hunch.

“We thought, okay, with his different way of thinking, drums would be his thing.”

There was one big hitch. Care for Todd and the tight economy left the tuition out of reach. But Amy Renzulli, owner of that School of Rock in Oak Park, put them in touch with the Rock School Scholarship Fund, a Los Angeles-based non-profit helping kids get access to music education with a rock emphasis.

“We would not have been able to afford it without that,” Kiefer says. “No way. Neither my husband nor I was working then. It’s not something that even with the most frugal budget we could have put in. I’m an attorney, but reduced my hours and moved my office into the home after Todd was diagnosed so I could help with the services he was receiving — speech therapist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, group things. He didn’t even start speaking until after he was three years old. It was a difficult situation.”

Rock School Scholarship Fund was founded by TV executive Wendy Winks and musician Carl Restivo, who together had run the Hollywood School of Rock in the late 2000s. Seeing close-up the great benefits this kind of music education and experience provided kids, but how many could not afford it, they left the school and formed this organization dedicated to addressing the needs, serving as Executive Director and Music Director, respectively. Though it grew out of their School of Rock experience, RSSF is not connected with the chain and aid is available for students at any qualifying music program, not just School of Rock franchises. (I became connected through Laura Grover, who two years ago was introduced to Winks, who in turn asked her to join the RSSF board of directors.)

Check out the video below of the “Welcome to the Jungle” performance. Clearly, Todd’s parents’ hunch was right. He’s a drummer.

“It’s very funny,” his mother says. “He can somehow focus through music to be able to drum, use all four limbs like that. He can’t ride a bike, but he can play drums!”

Arguably, even more remarkable is what this has meant in his life beyond the drum stool.

“I was just checking — he’s on target to make the honor roll for the first time in his life,” she says. “It’s helped him academically. And Todd just said something on Halloween. They were able to dress up for school if you brought a few cans of food. He chose to wear the outfit he wore for the Sunset Strip show, the Spandex, zebra shirt and makeup. And he said, ‘If anyone doesn’t like what I’m wearing, that’s their problem, not mine.’ It’s so great that he feels confident enough. Before, kids would throw him to the floor to watch him have a tantrum. Now he’s gotten to the point where, ‘If you don’t like me because I have long hair and wear black t-shirts with bands on then, that’s your problem.’ Teachers who had him in the third and fourth grade say he’s a different kid. And he has friends now. His confidence is sky-high.”

And it should be. He recently won a statewide audition for honors from the Illinois Music Educators Conference and performed in the band at their conference. He beat out 600 others, most of them older.

At home there’s been a nice change as well. “His brother is very musical, plays saxophone,” Kiefer says. “They didn’t get along, but this really brought them together. My other son isn’t in School of Rock, but he sits in and plays on their shows. Now they have something in common. They’re still brothers, they feud. But they have this musical respect for each other.”

Meanwhile, Todd is finding new musical horizons and challenges. Of late he’s been obsessed with a new-progressive rock band called Animals as Leaders, which works with unusual time signatures and complicated passages. And next up with School of Rock?

“They will be doing a Queen show,” she says. “He’s very excited. He’s working with the music director. It’s challenging. Queen is a lot more difficult than you’d think. They don’t follow the rules.

About The Writer: Steve Hochman has covered the worlds of popular, and unpopular, music for more than 30 years, most of that time as a core member of the Los Angeles Times team (including 14 years writing the popular Pop Eye column). These days he’s heard yapping about a wide spectrum of music on public radio station KPCC’s “Take Two” program and KQED’s “The California Report,” as well as writing for their respective web sites. He’s a regular contributor to the BuzzBandsLA site and serves as host and interviewer for various programs at the Grammy Museum. Over the years his writing has also appeared in an array of publications, including Rolling Stone, Billboard and Entertainment Weekly, and for four years he wrote the weekly Around the World global music column for AOL’s Spinner. In addition to living in L.A., he’s a part-time New Orleanian and an avid global traveler.