Give a Note Foundation was created by the leaders of the National Association for Music Education in 2011 as a way to engage leaders outside of the music education profession to raise awareness and garner financial support for music education programs.
A holiday season donation to Give a Note will make it possible to help schools with good but financially-strapped music programs. The Foundation also has worked with partners in accomplishing that goal.
In 2011 for example, the Foundation collaborated with Twentieth Century Fox Television, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, and the TV show Glee to provide grants of $1 million to 73 schools.
The Glee Give a Note campaign included video postings by schools, a public service announcement made by Glee star, Jane Lynch, a website to foster awareness for music programs, and a national media campaign highlighting school music programs in dozens of states.
Mark Keppel High School of Alhambra, California, was one of dozens that schools produced a video to compete in the online contest. After moving through earlier, rounds which narrowed the number of schools to those most in need, winners were selected on the basis of the number of online votes they received.
Seizing the Opportunity
Keppel Instrumental Music Teacher Carla Bartlett said of her decision to enter the contest, “All of the kids watch Glee. They love that show and I knew they could buy into the idea of competing for a grant. We all knew the money to support our program was very badly needed,” she said.
She has nearly 300 students in music classes and a very small budget for the music program. Students use school instruments and many of them are battered from years of use. Often instruments are shared because there simply are not enough for students to use.
To put those realities into perspective, the Keppel Glee submission video notes that the school’s music program offers band, orchestra, guitar, world drumming and AP music theory classes, each with 50 or more students. Resources to support those classes have long been stretched thin.
In one segment of the video, students practice in closet-sized spaces, and display battered brass instruments instrument cases, held together with duct tape, as well as drums with peeling skins. The video explains that the school’s music groups often perform in the community, though. One example is Keppel’s annual Veterans’ Day concert, and Bartlett added that her music groups performed more than 40 times during the last school year.
“We need more funding to continue to do more wonderful things with music,” the narrator says, and students describe the welcoming, creative atmosphere of the school’s music classes. It concludes, “We have a great instrumental music program. Please, please help us survive budget cuts and continue to thrive.”
Working to Get Out the Vote
During the voting period, Keppel students conducted a massive grassroots effort to gain support for their school, reaching out to their families, friends and community members to get the word out to support the video. Word quickly spread through their Facebook and Twitter contacts. Bartlett, fellow teachers, Keppel students, the school’s PTA and community members voted, asking for the same of others through their own social media networks.
Bartlett told students she knew they were going to win a grant. “There was no doubt in my mind about that and they worked hard to make that goal.”
She said she was pleased with how involved her students were during the making of the video and during the voting period. The fact that the community in Alhambra got involved also was gratifying, she added. “We got great support from the community for our music program.”
For Many Music Programs, the Need Continues
Despite the grant, though, Bartlett said fundraising remains a necessity. Support music education by becoming a member of Give a Note Foundation’s Ostinato Circle—a community of givers who commit to a recurring monthly donation. Your gift will help effectively maintain high-quality music programs for the more than 20 million students who already study music, expand and increase successful programs in communities in need, and educate all concerned about the importance of music as part of a well-rounded and balanced education.
Give a Note is an independent corporation and is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt charitable organization. The organization operates under by-laws and policies approved by an appointed board of up to fifteen members.
The current board members are:
- Tabor Stamper, President & CEO, KHS America (Board Chair)
- Beth Slusher, President & CEO, Rivars, Inc. (Board Vice-Chair)
- Frank Kuhns, Director of Sales & Marketing, Interstate Hotels
- Eliot Pfanstiehl, CEO, Strathmore Performing Arts Center
- Mary Robinson, Producer, American Horror Story, Glee, Glee Project
- Scott C. Shuler, Immediate Past President, NAfME
- Steve Zapf, President, Music & Arts
Give a Note currently focuses on
- Research on the availability and accessibility of music education programs across the United States.
- Training and support for teachers in the first five years of teaching.
- Funding for expansion of programs in rural and urban areas.
- Identification of best practices and what works in music education for purposes of enhancing and increasing programs for all students.
In the coming weeks, read more about other schools that won Glee grants.