By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4)– As rock ‘n’ roll royalty came to Denver, Steve Van Zandt’s stop was about much more than a concert. He wants to change the way classes are taught, with music as foundation.

“We’re trying to turn stem into steam in every single state,” said Van Zandt. “It’s more important right now to teach kids how to think instead of what to think.”

Steve Van Zandt (credit: CBS)

The musician and actor has made education a main focus in his life. Before every concert on his Teacher Solidarity Tour, a seminar is hosted to show local teachers how the lessons work. has more than 140 lessons centered around history and allows teachers to use rock ‘n’ roll as a way to engage kids.

(credit: CBS)

“We give them a lot of tools and now, you use what you need to communicate, what you want to communicate to your class. We rely on their own enthusiasm to then transfer that enthusiasm to the students,” he said.

(credit: CBS)

The seminars are part of a professional development workshop and teachers get an hour toward continuing education requirements. Van Zandt says kids have a tremendous amount of curiosity as long as you can interest them. He’s hoping the free online lessons will get students excited.

(credit: CBS)

“The arts plays on the imagination on connecting the dots and basically teaches kids how to think,” he said.

(credit: CBS)

Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.


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