The VH1 Save The Music Foundation has provided $1.05 million in funding for music education programs in West Virginia schools. To commemorate this statewide rebuild of music education programs, a ceremony was held today in Washington, D.C. to honor the commitment of West Virginia's two U.S. Senators and the Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History to music education.
Grants have been distributed to 30 West Virginia counties by the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, and that group joined today with the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) and National Association for Music Education (NAfME) to honor Senator Jay Rockefeller, Senator Joe Manchin and Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith.
"Our work in West Virginia has been one of the biggest successes the Foundation has seen," said Paul Cothran, Vice President & Executive Director of the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. "And that success is a testament to the hard work and commitment to music education of our partners. It is a privilege to honor Senator Rockefeller, Senator Manchin and Commissioner Reid-Smith with the SupportMusic Award." Joe Lamond, president of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) presented the awards.
Thirty-five schools in 30 counties have already received funding (see list below), and the VH1 Save The Music Foundation has committed to funding all 55 counties as the rebuild continues.
Students from Shepherdstown Middle School's Jazz Ensemble performed at the ceremony, along with celebrity musicians on the national level: Chad Smith, drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bernie Williams, Latin GRAMMY-nominated jazz guitarist and former N.Y. Yankee and singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton.
"Not only does playing in a school band help students learn about team work and practice, but playing an instrument also helps them improve their academics and become better students," said Senator Jay Rockefeller. "VH1 Save The Music Foundation understands the importance of music education in West Virginia's schools and I greatly appreciate its past and future efforts to bring new instruments to students and help music programs grow. And we can see the results with the students I met with today from the Shepherdstown Middle School Jazz Band, which received instruments from the organization and has since won the state jazz band competition. The students in this band are great kids, and this foundation has helped make it possible for them to learn and excel at an instrument and it's happening all across West Virginia. That's something we can all be proud of."
"Having access to music education opens so many doors for our children in West Virginia," said Senator Joe Manchin. "It's unfortunate that every time states face budget cuts, funding for the arts seems to be targeted. I am so thankful for the extraordinary work VH1's Save The Music Foundation has accomplished in making sure West Virginia schools have the resources to provide music education to our kids."
"West Virginia is on course to provide music instruments to every qualified elementary and middle school in our state," said Commissioner Reid-Smith. Within a few years, students who might never have had the opportunity to play a musical instrument will be doing so."
Red Hot Chili Peppers Grammy winning drummer Chad Smith added his voice to NAMM's mission. "If there hadn't been a music program in my public schools, I would not be where I am today. Every kid and I mean everyone needs a chance to learn and grow with music."
"A lot of what music taught me led to my success in other areas, including baseball," said Bernie Williams. "Music has a profound effect on kids, and education must include music and the arts."
As pressure on funding for school music programs continues, NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond summed up his organization's role as part of the solution. "NAMM members envision a world in which every child has a deep desire to learn music and a recognized right to be taught; and in which every adult is a passionate champion and defender of that right."