Gretsch Gift Funds Fred Rogers Children’s Music Fellowship

Fred at the piano, Image by The Fred Rogers Company

While most people, young and old, associate Fred Rogers with the visual and structural elements of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood — colorful castles, puppets and cardigans, a responsive trolley and the television house — there is a bright and intentional thread connecting it all. Music.

Fred Rogers understood that when a child’s head got distracted or heart grew more closed, music offered another way to reach his audience.

A passionate musician, Fred Rogers said in a 1999 interview for the Archive of American Television: “My first love is music,” Rogers said. “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.”

Many people are surprised to learn that Fred considered himself first and foremost a musician. His college degree was in music composition and over his lifetime he wrote the melodies and lyrics for more than 200 songs.

Through his songs, Fred Rogers translated the concepts of child development into musical messages in a language that children could understand. Some songs celebrate good feelings. Some are calming. Others are for times when children are struggling with a particular issue like jealousy or persistence or being apart from a loved one.

“All these songs are really songs about how we feel about ourselves,” Fred Rogers said.

The Gretsch Fellowship in Children’s Music at the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College will allow today’s scholars, educators and musicians to bring music to experiences that, in the words of Fred Rogers, “help children grow as confident, competent, and caring human beings.”

 The Gretsch Fellowship, made possible by a generous endowment from Fred and Dinah Gretsch and their family, links one of the most respected brands in American music with the country’s most focused center of research on children’s media, child development and all aspects of early childhood learning.

Applications are being accepted from musicians with notable credentials in scholarship, education, or a related background. One Gretsch Fellow will be selected, with the fellowship beginning January 2021. Learn more at The direct link to the Gretsch Fellowship Application page on the FRC Website is:

 During the two-semester appointment, a Gretsch Fellow will be expected to conduct research in the Fred Rogers Archive. The Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College was planned under Fred’s guidance and established in 2003 at Saint Vincent College in his hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

The Fred Rogers Center supports and enriches the important work of those who help children learn and grow across multiple disciplines, including early learning, education, communication, health, media and more. By focusing its work on strengthening human relationships and promoting meaningful uses of technology and media, the Center engages child-serving professionals around the world and brings distinct opportunities to early childhood education students at Saint Vincent College.