Band in a Bus Provides Music for CPS Students

When an organization’s focus is bringing music to communities via a Band in a Bus, but COVID makes that work impossible, it’s time to get creative. Enter Band in a Box, a COVID-safe program of Band in the Bus, developed by Executive Director Nick Rose. 

In pre-COVID times, Cincinnati-based Band in a Bus made music education accessible to every child by driving to schools in Cincinnati where music programming was lacking, bringing all the elements of a band into the school community. The goal was to turn down the growing disparities apparent in arts education and turn up the availability of instruments and engaging musical activities that greatly benefit youth in our communities.

When COVID-19 hit and schools went virtual, Band in a Bus amped up its mission by launching the ‘Band in a Box’ program. Rather than letting instruments sit on a shelf, the nonprofit boxed them up and sent them to students across Greater Cincinnati and beyond.

The idea of Band in a Box is to provide students with the opportunity to participate in musical activities at home, giving them the needed outlet to explore their creative, social, and personal development. This was especially important while students were learning from home, as kids needed a creative outlet after staring at a computer screen all day

Every student received rhythm sticks, a djembe (drum), a tambourine, and a ukulele, all easy to use at home with the mentorship of a music teacher- even from a social distance. Students also received a book of introductory sheet music. Bonus: the kids got to keep all of the instruments as their own.

Rose’s goal was lofty: provide one box of musical instruments and equipment for every 3rd grade student in CPS.  In order to reach this goal, Rose needed two key elements: funding and partners.

Funding and Distributing Instruments to Over 1500 Students

Band in a Bus worked diligently to raise the money for this new concept, and local organizations, such as ArtsWave, the Haile Foundation, Cincinnati Bell, and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, were kind enough to come forward and lend their support.

The effort could not have been accomplished without the support of Dr. Isidore Rudnick at Cincinnati Public Schools, identifying which students would have the greatest need for this type of program. Activities Beyond the Classroom also gladly signed on, ensuring that every third grader at the ten CPS elementary schools where ABC is a lead agency received a box. By the end of the school year, Rose successfully sent 1534 boxes of instruments to 31 schools across multiple districts.

Band in a Bus plans to make even more noise with their box program by providing a Band in a Box to every third grader at Cincinnati Public Schools for the upcoming school year. ABC is proud to help such a great program reach students at Cincinnati Public Schools, and we look forward to working more with Band in a Bus in the future! For more on Band in a Bus, visit their website: