LAPD Officer Bob Deamer of South L.A.'s Newton Division talked excitedly over the blare of guitars in Harmony Elementary School's auditorium on Monday.
"We've done four shows for three schools today," he yelled. "The kids down in the projects, they went crazy – they rushed the stage; they were dancing around the band. It was hysterical."
The band and shows he's talking about are part of a new music mentorship program he's spearheading for schools in South L.A. In addition to being a classroom mentor, Deamer recruits musicians to visit schools in the area to talk to the kids and, of course, jam.
"They're exhausted," he said in a thick Boston accent, motioning to the band. "But the kids are having fun. Some schools, the kids just go crazy."
The band's Harmony show was the last stop of their "tour" for the day and if the band was exhausted, Deamer certainly wasn't – he ran around the auditorium, pumping up the crowd and throwing up rock hands to KISS' "Rock and Roll All Nite," trying to get kids to come up and sing something.
"You got get up here and sing," he blared into a microphone. "It doesn't matter if it's one line, two lines, three lines – you've got to get up here and sing because it teaches you how to be confident!"
The kids weren't familiar with KISS' catalogue like the band was, but a few kids did take the stage – "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" was a popular track, and one boy said the money line from LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" ("Every day I'm shufflin'") before shyness overcame him.
And when it was announced that a young girl named Harmony would be singing Justin Bieber? Screams all around – then complete, reverential silence as she sang.
But at least one kid was familiar with the songs the band was playing.
"I like that they're teaching classics to students, like 'Sweet Home Alabama,'" said Benjamin Cornejo, 11. He put his hands up and yelled "Yeah!" when the band asked "How about some KISS?"
Jah-si Bellows, 8, added he thought it was "pretty tight" that the two band members could play guitar. Bellows is a fan of country music and liked the band's rendition of "Sweet Home Alabama" in particular.
At another end of the musical spectrum were students like fifth-graders Claudia Pina and Diana Martinez, both 11. They're both fans of Drake, and Martinez also likes Wiz Khalifa. "I haven't heard this [kind of] music," said Pina to OnCentral. "It's new to me."
"The arts is all about giving back," Deamer said. "That's all it is. These guys [the band] don't get paid nothing. We're just hoping we grab a few who say, 'Wow. That's exactly what I want to do.'
"Some kids are never going to be good at math and English, but they'll be good at the arts," he said. "It only takes one time seeing live music for a kid to say 'I want to do that.'"
Additional reporting by Sonali Kohli.