Monthly Archives: January 2015

How can you tell if a child might have difficulties learning languages?

Here’s a simple method that takes less than 30 seconds: ask her/him to repeat a drumbeat.

Image by Grant Slater, courtesy of KPCC

Image by Grant Slater, courtesy of KPCC

While far from foolproof, matching rhythms may be an early indicator of potential language learning capacity, according to Nina Kraus, Ph.D, an auditory neurobiologist and professor at Northwestern University who spoke at last Sunday’s KPCC Crawford Family Forum in Pasadena. Since music and language are remarkably similar in the neural processes they employ, she said, it’s possible to predict on a very basic level how children who find it difficult to follow beats might have problems in school.

Along with panelists Suzanne Gindin, founder of the Boyle Heights Community Youth Orchestra (BHCYO), and Kristen Madsen, Senior Vice President of The GRAMMY Foundation & MusiCares, Kraus discussed her research on how music and the brain are interconnected. The key takeaway was how music—specifically, how playing an instrument—can help overcome learning obstacles for children born into poverty, who tend to have greater difficulties with school. Continue reading

Iconic American songs like Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally,” and Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” are only two of the many songs that celebrate car culture; each sing of the thrill of hopping in your car and hitting the road. Here in Los Angeles, a city that loves its cars, we’re immersed in car culture–for better or worse. Having a car is a luxury that brings a new type of freedom and excitement…but what happens when the number of cars on the road increases while the amount of road space for those vehicles remains the same?

This brings us to the subject of today’s post: Mumbai.

Cropped_Crawford-Market_mumbai traffic

Crawford Market traffic – image by Bipin Kokate, courtesy of

Continue reading

SundanceSince Robert Redford founded it in 1978, the annual Sundance Film Festival has become a fixture in launching independent cinema. Many films have gone on to win or be nominated for awards after being screened at the famous Park City, Utah, festival—most recently, Academy Award “Best Picture” nominee Whiplash, which tells the story of a young jazz drummer and his formidable mentor.

This year, like Whiplash, a number of films and documentaries at Sundance feature music in a prominent role. We’re excited for these projects, inspired by artists like Daft Punk, Nina Simone, Nirvana and more: Continue reading

Big dreams_2.1

This young drummer with a contagious smile is one of the many young Angelenos who took part in our pre-concert drum circle during the 2014 Levitt National Tour, featuring Playing for Change. Who knows where this young drummer’s interaction with music might take him? Lifelong dreams are born everyday!

This week we’ve honored one of our nation’s most courageous dreamers and visionaries, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Let this post serve as a reminder that it’s never too early or too late to dream big.

Last Sunday, John Legend and Common’s collaborative work “Glory,” the soulful gospel-rap blend from the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic Selma, won the Golden Globe for “Best Original Song.” Yesterday, it also picked up an Academy Award nomination in the same category—and coincidentally, it happened to be the day that would have been King’s 86th birthday.

Legend and Common are among many artists whose music has been inspired by King’s activism, such as Stevie Wonder, Queen and U2. Continue reading

Young snowboarder

Courtesy of Andy Cross – The Denver Post

Ruby Hill Park (where Levitt Denver will open in 2016) boasts 88 acres of land, breathtaking 360 degree views of the city and, at the moment, a free snow-filled winter wonderland for urban skiers, snowboarders, inner tubers and sledders. The name of this playground for snow enthusiasts: Ruby Hill Rail Yard.

With the snow-covered Rocky Mountains right in Denver’s backyard, why is a little mid-city snow so exciting? Continue reading


On this day in 1935, Elvis Aaron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. One of the greatest musical icons of all time, he starred in 31 feature films, shattered numerous Billboard chart records and broke teenage hearts everywhere before his death in 1977.

You might not know that the Levitt is also a part of Elvis’ rich musical history: his first paid performance on a major stage was at the site now called Levitt Shell (formerly known as the Overton Park Shell). On July 30, 1954, he opened for Slim Whitman and Billy Walker, and in 2013, his only child Lisa Marie Presley also performed at Levitt Shell, free of charge.

In honor of what would have been Elvis’ 80th birthday, here are 10 more surprising facts you might not know about the King! Continue reading

BLOG_new_beginnings_middlesboroCheers to a new year and new beginnings!

We’re thrilled to bring free live music to ten additional cities in 2015! Underused public spaces across the country, like this vacant gravel lot in downtown Middlesboro, KY, will be given new life and transformed into thriving community hubs before the year comes to a close. Congrats, again, to the recipients of the first-ever Levitt AMP [Your City] Grant Awards! We can’t wait to see your projects unfold.