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J Dilla Music Tech Grant

We are very excited to partner with Save the Music Foundation on the J Dilla Music Tech Grant. The J Dilla Music Tech grant provides select schools and highly qualified music educators with equipment, instruments, resources, and professional development to facilitate contemporary music programs. The initiative was co-designed with Dr. Evan Tobias, who works closely with Save the Music to facilitate the initiative and its development.

What are we doing?

CITME plays an important role in the J Dilla Music Tech grant by providing grantees with professional development and support. We work with our partners to develop resources, curricula, and related pedagogy to help the grantees. Director of CITME, Dr. Evan Tobias is also facilitating action research for which each grantee earns 45 hours of professional development. Aspects of the grant program are also integrated with a number of courses at ASU such as Art of Teaching Contemporary Musicians, Beatmaking, Digital Hybrid Lab, Digital and Participatory Culture in Music, and our Sound and Music Innovation Lab (SMIL).

Why the J Dilla Music Tech Grant program?

Music educators across the country are interested in addressing issues of access and equity. The J Dilla Music Tech grant makes an impact in two key areas: 1) the grant provides select schools with resources to broaden access to music learning and teaching and 2) the grant helps highly qualified music educators update and expand their music programs to engage students who might not be interested in the large ensemble structures (band, orchestra, chorus) that are more typical in high school music programs. Over time, we see the potential of the J Dilla Music Tech Grant catalyzing and supporting the growth and expansion of secondary music programs across the country while developing related pedagogy and curricula.

What is the curriculum?

This program is unique in how the curriculum is highly flexible, dynamic, and customized to each school. This differs from a “curriculum in a box” or “one-size-fits-all” approach to curriculum that looks more like a document with the same set of sequenced tasks or lesson plans. We work closely with grantees and the students in their programs to curate, design, and develop curricula that emerge over time in relation to the needs and interests of students. We also curate and develop activities, units, and projects that address varied aspects of contemporary musicianship. Most importantly, we help each music educator design and develop their own curricula that make sense in their context.

What do we mean by contemporary musicianship?

There are many ways to answer this and we are purposefully leaving the notion of contemporary musicianship open and broad. The J Dilla Music Tech grant primarily supports students engaging with and through contemporary popular music forms and practices, with an emphasis on electronic and digitally-mediated music. The equipment included in the grant package leans more towards beatmaking, DJing, recording and producing, live creation and performance, and related ways of knowing and doing music. While we draw upon varied resources, we do not subscribe to any particular model or existing curriculum. However, each program is open to the many ways students can know and do music. The program is designed to evolve along with music and the ways people know and do music.

What is the approach?

Specific pedagogical approaches are at the discretion of each participating music educator. We, at CITME, take a comprehensive approach and embrace flexibility, hybridity, and hyphenated musicianship. As part of the professional development we facilitate, we address teaching with:

  • Open exploration
  • Project based learning (PBL)
  • Inquiry based learning
  • Problem based learning
  • Blended learning
  • Facilitating activities and units

Grantees draw upon typical teaching approaches ranging from scaffolding to direct instruction in ways that make the most sense at any given point in a class. The curricula we co-develop with teachers are dynamic and flexible so that music educators can move fluidly among pedagogical approaches.

Who is involved at ASU?

We work with numerous partners on CITME initiatives, including this program. Our lead team for the J Dilla Music Tech Grant currently includes:

Team Admin

  • Director, Evan Tobias
  • Project Coordinator, Steve Holley
  • ArtsWork: Kax Herberger Center for Children and the Arts Liaison, Mallory Alekna
  • Community Engagement Coordinator & Artist Relations Manager, Samuel Peña

Lead Team Members

Numerous additional ASU students are involved in the program.

How can I get involved?

Music educators interested in applying for the grant, find out more information at the Save the Music Foundation J Dilla Music Tech Grant site.

Music educators interested in collaborating on contemporary musicianship initiatives or earning professional development hours for related action research, contact Evan Tobias at CITME.

Artists or artist reps interested in contributing to the project or our always-developing curricula, contact Evan Tobias at CITME and Chiho Feindler at Save The Music Foundation.

Company or industry reps interested in contributing to the project, contact Chiho Feindler at Save The Music Foundation.

Students at ASU interested in contributing to this project and earning course credit, contact Evan Tobias at CITME.

Prospective ASU students interested in finding out more about contemporary musicianship and related opportunities at ASU, contact Evan Tobias at CITME.

Take a Look at Some Media Coverage

Billboard: Inside the Quest to Honor J Dilla’s Legacy Through Music Education

105.1 The Bounce: Community of Caring: How Your School Can Apply For the J Dilla Grant

Reverb: How the Save The Music Foundation is Pioneering Electronic Music in Schools

The Playground (UK): Save The Music Foundation: Empowering Youth With the J Dilla Tech Grant

KTAR: ASU partners in high school music grant program inspired by J Dilla

BusinessWire: Save the Music Launches First-Ever Electronic Music Grant Named After Legendary Producer J Dilla

AP News: MTV, Save The Music, Launch Grant Named After J Dilla