Fellowships for professionals interested in deepening their work in service of children, families, and their helpers.

Fred Rogers was a musician and believed that music was a critical component of the  development of young people. In a July 22, 1999, interview for the Archive of American Television, Fred stated:

“My first love is music. It is a unique way for me to express who I am and what I am feeling. Music was always my way of saying who I was and how I felt. I was always able to cry or laugh or say I was angry through the tips of my fingers on the piano. I would go to the piano even when I was five years old. I started to play how I felt. And so, it was very natural for me to become a composer. Having written all of the music for the Neighborhood, I feel as if that’s one of my gifts to children …There is something very mystical and wonderful about how music can touch us. You know it’s elemental …It must be what Heaven is like.”

Fred’s approach to music resonates with the Gretsch family’s understanding of the emotions experienced by playing Gretsch instruments and their personal commitment to “enriching children’s lives through participation in music.” The Gretsch Fellowship in Children’s Music at the Fred Rogers Institute provides support to further study Fred Rogers’ approach to music as one of the most effective methods of communication for touching the hearts and minds of children.
This exceptional program provides an annual, two-semester appointment for a musician with notable credentials in scholarship, education, or a related background. To align with the Gretsch Family’s focus, preference will be given to guitarists and drummers, but all musical backgrounds will be considered.
During their Fellowship, each Gretsch Fellow in Children’s Music is expected to conduct research in the Fred Rogers Archive and to prepare a deliverable, such as a scholarly whitepaper, journal article, or musical performance that advances knowledge and practice related to child development and music. Topics of study will vary depending on each Fellow’s areas of expertise and may include, for example, research on Fred’s methodology for integrating music in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, observations of children learning and performing music, and studies of effective methods for musical instruction such as the Orff Schulwerk program that informed some of Gretsch’s approaches and perspectives.
Fred Rogers Center invites participation by academic faculty; preschool, kindergarten, and elementary teachers; music educators; and others. It is not expected that the Gretsch Fellow in Children’s Music maintains a physical presence on the campus during both semesters of the appointment.

Applications for the Gretsch Fellowship open in early spring of each year. Sign up for our newsletter (scroll to the bottom of this page to the grey banner!) to be notified when applications are live. 

Fred Rogers cared about the wellbeing of all people, demonstrating this through nearly 900 episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and in countless writings and speeches. The Fred Rogers Institute continues to work in support of children and young people’s health and wellbeing and has been troubled that behavioral and mental health problems have increased in recent years, especially among young people. Effects from the COVID-19 pandemic have heightened the problem, with issues related to social isolation, emotional instability, and anxiety on the rise. When unresolved, these issues also can lead to suicide ideation, a specific concern that should be addressed at its root. Fred directly addressed many challenges that others often chose to ignore; the Mental Health and Wellness Fellowship allows us to follow his lead by providing effective tools and strategies to combat head-on the many challenges our children and young people are facing in today’s society.

The Fred Rogers Institute has been proud to partner with the Citrone 33 Foundation on many worthwhile endeavors, the most recent of which is this focus on mental health and wellness in the form of a three-year fellowship for Dr. Rebecca Zill, neuropsychologist with Allegheny Health Network (AHN) in Pittsburgh. Dr. Zill and Dr. Dana Winters, Executive Director of the Fred Rogers Institute have collaborated on previous projects related to the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. This fellowship is a fitting extension of their work together.   

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