Friday 3 July 2015


It’s a familiar story, at least as old as I am: across America’s public schools, arts education programs have been slashed as a cost saving measure, leaving private systems and non-profits to fill in the gaps. In my estimation, one non-profit happens to be filling in that gap rather well, doing so in a way that benefits students, teachers, schools, and the private sector all at the same time.
This program is called, quite simply, the Lennon Bus; think of it as a highly technical realization of Partridge Family values: essentially a recording studio on wheels (though these days, it’s much more than that), the Lennon Bus tours the country, making appearances in school districts and after-school programs—many of them severely impoverished.
More than an arts/engineering intensive, the Lennon Bus aims to teach children the importance of team work, focus, discipline, and goal-based learning—and they do all of this by means of a technologically up-to-date multimedia facility. The Lennon Bus also seeks to demonstrate just how valuable such student programs can be to school administrators; having shown off its wares, the Lennon Bus often proceeds to facilitate the donation of the necessary equipment to set up such a facility within the boundaries of a school (indeed, partnering with their sponsors, the Lennon Bus donated over $30,000 worth of gear to schools over the 2014-2015 school year).
Why are we highlighting this within the online pages of, you might ask? Because this program would never enjoy its currently wide scope without the partnership of major brands and corporations; partnering with the Lennon Bus allows a brands such as Apple or Avid to tap into greater marketplaces, giving them a vital presence within a school system often stuck on antiquated operating systems and hardware facilities.
In other words, not only does the program inspire students to learn, teachers to teach, and administrators to arm themselves with valuable equipment, it promotes awareness of particular brands, effectively hooking entirely new generations of consumers onto their products. Yes, there is a capitalistic (and perhaps opportunistic) undercurrent to program, but without the support of these companies (ranging from Apple to Montblanc), the program wouldn’t work as well as it does.
Indeed, it works rather well. Beginning its trek through America in 1998, the Lennon Bus originally started as an outgrowth of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest that begun a year prior. “Originally I had thought that this was just going to be a spring promotion,” Executive Director Brian Rothschild told me. But everything changed when the bus made an appearance on Good Morning America. Along with Wyclef Jean and Joan Osborne, Brian had the last minute idea to feature students from New York City public schools on the program. Synergy followed: during the course of the taping, Jean and Osborne helped the students write an original song, revealing “it in the last five minutes of the show” 


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