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  • 2009 Essay Contest Winners

    Mike Lawson | July 6, 2009

    More than 7,000 students from all part of the United States and several foreign countries participated in SBO's 9th annual Music Students Scholarship Essay contest, co-sponsored by NAMM, Alfred Publishing, Hershey Fund Raising, Yamaha Corporation of America and Avedis Zildjian. This year's theme "How Does Music Unite Cultures Within Your School and Community?" had multiple winners from the states of Texas and California, and, for the first time, a winning essay came from the country of Kosovo, from an American student studying there. To date, $180,000 in scholarships and music products has been awarded to 81 school music programs.

    Allison Wrenn Thomas, the 18-year-old senior at Cesk Zadeja Music High School in Kosovo, entered this winning essay:

    As an American attending a music high school in the war-torn country of Kosovo, I have had the privilege to witness firsthand the power of music to unite diverse cultures. Music has opened the door to many personal friendships with Kosovars that I will cherish for life. Music has also become a bridge between the local Muslim community and the American Peacekeeping Forces. I remember the first time American soldiers visited our dilapidated school. Curiosity and tension vibrated in the air until Liridon sat down to the piano. As a Kosovar folk song filled the room, the atmosphere dissolved into smiles and applause: we had found a common language. The soldiers came often after that. They invited us to perform on their base and also attended our school concerts. As the only American attending this local school, I was increasingly drawn upon as an interpreter, liaison, and musical consultant.

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