Via a blog from the Huffington Post, Executive Director of 501(c)(3) Education Through Music Katherine Damkohler explains the perks of a music education. Damkohler says, “The value of incorporating music into a child’s education cannot be understated. There is a heap of incontestable research showing that an education rich in music improves students’ cognitive function and academic performance. Simply put, children learn better when music is part of their school curriculum.”
Though its benefits are recognized, the truth about music education is that it often requires community aid. Rated as one of 2020’s Top-Rated Nonprofits from Great Nonprofits, the Give-A-Note Foundation believes that “music education is a right of every student.” The nonprofit has garnered the support of 1,000 donors, awarded $1.3 million dollars in grants serving music education, and helped improve the music education of 50,000 students from over 150 K-12 public schools nationwide.
Because Give-A-Note appreciates the work educators in Nashville are doing, the organization is helping Nashville’s middle and high schools keep the music alive during COVID-19. To this end, Give-A-Note announced on October 27, 2020 that it has teamed up with other nonprofits to create an almost $50,000 fund for Nashville schools to purchase specialized Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). According to their press release, “This combined effort–under Give A Note’s Let’s Play Music Fund–is now providing more than 8500 Instrument Masks and Bell Covers for brass and woodwinds, plus masks, to be distributed to Metro Nashville Public Schools.”
Board Chair and President of the Give-A-Note Foundation Ed James has a soft spot for music-based causes. Ed is also the President and Founder of PR and marketing consultancy firm CHQ Media. In this capacity, he has worked on different music PR campaigns and promotional efforts for music causes, including the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus.
“Our mission statement is to listen to the music teachers, and provide them the tools for success,” Ed explains to Launch Engine. “One of our primary programs is a grant that we do with the CMA Foundation where we get proposals from teachers on programs that will help students. So we’ll get everything from teachers who want to teach about EDM [Electronic Dance Music] to teachers who want to do indigenous flute music… it’s a wide berth of music education initiatives that we work to support.”
Ed shares that the music education teachers—because they love music so much that they have an advanced knowledge of it—are really the best resource for determining how students in a music classroom can learn more. He explains, “I think what separates Give-A-Note from other nonprofits is that it’s all teacher-based… it’s [all about] listening to the teachers on the ground and what they’re looking for in their students.”
Music educators were hit hard by the pandemic. In light of the many pressing concerns brought about by COVID, music education might not be deemed essential. Many music education classes were canceled, and since remote learning doesn’t permit students to learn to play an instrument, such lessons were put on hold until pandemic conditions improved. “Most of these music teachers were not able to have their students back in class without the proper masks,” Ed states.
According to Ed, Give-A-Note CEO Beth Slusher was speaking to Southeastern Performance Apparel about protective masks specially designed for choirs, as well as the bell covers used for brass instruments. As is explained in the guidelines set forth by the National Federation of State High School Associations International Coalition of Performing Arts Aerosol Study, these items are made to let noise escape without compromising the safety of the user, or those around them. After Slusher became aware of the existence of such equipment, Give-A-Note realized that teachers could use these types of PPE—thus allowing them to get their students back practicing music under safe conditions. This was initially started as a nationwide campaign, with an open submissions process for different schools. Ed describes the financial support for music education as “very limited,” so naturally the application response for PPE support was immediate.
“They don’t have money to play with,” Ed explains. “So if you’re talking about masks for their students, even at the additional cost of $200, that’s $200 they don’t have.” For Ed, Give-A-Note is one of many efforts to support the arts as a whole. He argues that it is key that all educational efforts are supported to make students well-rounded.
Sensing that there was a need in Nashville for such generosity, Give-A-Note partnered with the Gibson Gives Foundation and the Save the Music Foundation. Together they began a Nashville-based initiative to get the 8500 units of PPE needed for Music City schools to open their music classrooms again.
Give-A-Note’s donation is something that was greatly needed for Nashville’s public education system. Via a statement, Metro Nashville Public Schools Director of Schools Dr. Adrienne Battle expressed her appreciation for the PPE, saying, “As our middle school and high school band students start returning to the joys of practicing and performing together, this gift of PPE will go a long way toward helping them do it safely. Thank you to Give-A-Note Foundation, Music Makes Us, and all of their partners and donors in Nashville and across the country for this extremely generous donation to our schools.”
Ed says that Give-A-Note plans on hosting a student showcase November 16— although many of the details are still being worked out. Ed says that Give-A-Note is planning on having special guests in attendance, including both known musicians and government officials.
“It’s almost like music’s taking a pause this year,” Ed muses. “I mean, people are creating music. But in terms of live music, it’s like a hiatus.” As the organization continues to help more schools, Ed encourages those who are passionate about helping music education nationwide to donate to Give-A-Note’s Let’s Play Music Fund.