There's Hope for Struggling Readers...Through Singing!!


Last year, Bancroft Elementary School (a Minneapolis Public School) decided to try a new idea to help their struggling readers. They chose sixty 3rd-5th grade students to participate in the Rock 'n Read Project. The students came to the computer lab for 30 minutes four times/week to sing with a software program, TUNEin to Reading, that uses repeated singing of songs to boost reading. They found that it was fun, and they liked that were rewarded for improving their ability to sing in tune and in rhythm...everyone wants to learn to sing well! 

During the year, they used the program for an average of 35 hours. In spring 2017, all Bancroft 3rd-5th graders took the state achievement test (Minnnesota Comprehensive Assessments). The Rock 'n' Read students had made significantly MORE gain in reading than the other students. 

Bancroft is continuing the program this year.


Thousands of Minnesota children are failing to learn to read well enough to succeed in school and beyond. About 60% of Minneapolis and St. Paul public school students are not proficient in reading (2016 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments). Our urban public schools have one of the largest achievement gaps between children of color and white students in the nation, and it has not substantially narrowed since data was first collected in 1992. If students can’t read, they can’t succeed. Many drop out of school.


Schools need to implement alternative forms of language instruction that involve making music, moving, and creative play. Neuroscientists have found that these activities enable brains to be more capable of acquiring language, reading, focusing, planning, creating, focusing, and more.


Neuroscientist Dr. Nina Kraus’ research studies of auditory processing studies reveal that the brains of children who receive music instruction are able to match sounds to letters earlier, better understand speech in noisy backgrounds, and read at a higher level. Also, children who can’t keep a steady beat usually struggle with reading. Neuroscientist Dr. Usha Goswami’s studies of the brains of children with dyslexia show that it is caused by a poor sense of rhythm—their brains are less able to detect the “beats” in sounds that pulsate rhythmically. This can be remediated by beat-related activities, such as speaking nursery rhymes and singing songs while keeping the beat.


Co-founded in 2014 by Bill Jones and Ann Kay, this nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization first purchased a retired city bus and created a mobile computer lab with 32 used computers and a software program that uses singing to boost reading achievement. In summer 2014, the bus served 200 students at a Minneapolis Public Schools summer school and the YMCA in North Minneapolis. 

In May 2016, the MN Legislature awarded The Rock 'n' Read Project a $100,000 grant to launch a state pilot project in four schools in 2016-'17.

In May, 2017, the MN Legislature awarded The Rock ‘n’ Read Project a $500,000 grant for Year 2-3 of the state pilot. There are now nine schools in the state pilot.

See more information on the website:

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