American Idol Contestant's 'Live for Music' Competition Emphasizes Education

Shaun Barrowes said friends strongly urged him to audition for American Idol, and he sang in Charleston, South Carolina, wining a “golden ticket” and a trip to Hollywood in 2008.

A season seven finalist, he said, “I didn’t really want to audition, but I got what I needed from the show and it has given me the exposure to do what really want to do.”

Shaun Barrowes visted MENC headquarters a few weeks ago and took a turn at the piano

These days what the singer-songwriter wants to do is compose and perform his own music, and to support school music programs. “I want to give music students the chance to perform that I don’t feel I had,” Barrowes said of his “Live for Music” school concert tour and contest.

Since the fall of 2010, he has traveled to schools across the United States, some 30 in all, from Oregon to Illinois to Texas. The tour will visit Colorado and a few other stops in the next couple of weeks. Only official school ensembles under the direction of the school music teacher are considered for “Live for Music,”  a public concert held in a high school’s auditorium, performed in two 45-minute sets with a 15-minute intermission.

Concert choirs, concert bands or wind ensembles, orchestras, show choirs, drum lines, dance ensembles, or other large, unique school music ensembles all are welcome to compete. Barrowes rehearses with students before the performances, giving them a “professional” experience.

Barrowes has performed all over the United States with school groups like this one. 

The 2011-12 “Live for Music” tour will be more extensive, visiting about 100 cities. “Live for Music” schools will be selected based on contest videos they post on YouTube.

Concert performance and production will determine the top 30 winners and one school selected from the top 30 will win $50,000.

In addition to the top prize, “Live for Music” will award $10,000 for the best “Live for Music” video posted on YouTube. A Collegiate MENC member will help judge the contest. MENC is also helping Barrowes identify MENC members who might want to have their school compete.

“Some music programs are hanging on by a thread,” Barrowes said. ” That isn’t right. I want to draw attention to the budget problems and other challenges school music programs face.”

“Live for Music” Tour

Contest Rules and Other Information

Roz Fehr, February 4, 2011. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education