Two Birthdays

Mike Lawson • Archives • October 16, 2007

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It’s a wonderful coincidence that two of the most supportive charities in the field of music education have both achieved their 10th anniversary in 2007 VH1 Save the Music, and the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. Both of these fine organizations have similar missions in that they provide instruments and money to help restore music programs and help support music education across the country. Together, they have contributed tens of millions of dollars to over 2,000 public schools, in turn benefiting over one million children. The visionary founders of these organizations, John Sykes, formerly of VH1, and the late composer Michael Kamen understood the importance of a population of children who would have access to a musical education, regardless of their circumstances.

Not only has this charitable work benefited students directly, but the positive publicity that these foundations have generated has created widespread exposure for the benefits of playing a musical instrument. I mention only these two charities due to their coinciding anniversaries, but there are literally dozens of other foundations doing similar work to help perpetuate music in the schools. If you view the excellent music education site,, which is co-sponsored by NAMM and MENC, you will find a wealth of information about music advocacy, charitable organizations, current government actions, information for parents, a list of music advocacy organizations and companies, and, according to the site, “• effective tips for taking action and the latest evidence of music’s importance.”

We at SBO are also doing our part to support music students and schools with our annual essay scholarship contest which you received with the September issue. SBO, along with support from our co-sponsors, NAMM, Hershey’s Fundraising,, Yamaha, Alfred Publishing, Zildjian, and Music for All, has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships, instruments, equipment, and music to deserving students and schools around the USA. If you don’t have a copy of this year’s essay contest poster, drop me an e-mail and I’ll make sure we send one to you: [email protected]. This year’s contest also provides an excellent way to make the importance of music in the schools known at the highest levels of government, as the topic is “Dear Mr. President, I am writing to tell you why music is so important to my complete education •” The thousands of letters we receive will be sent directly to the President, so consider having your students participate, as it is certain to have an impact.

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