Sunday, September 28, 2008

All That I Am, You Taught Me to Be

Crystal Chatham, The Desert Sun

Press Release Link

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Who: Barry Manilow

What: Will launch the Manilow Music Project by giving over 300 instruments to 20 middle schools and high school music departments in the Palm Springs, Coachella Valley and Desert
Sands Unified School Districts. Students from each school will be present to help launch the delivery of the instruments.

When: Monday, September 29
Press Check-in starting at 8:00 a.m.
Press Conference begins at 9:00 a.m.

Where: Palm Springs High School
2401 E. Baristo Rd.
Palm Springs, CA 92262
Press parking in lot on Ramon Rd., closest to Farrell Drive

Why: In response to the needs of the local public schools and their severely depleted music programs, Manilow gathered some friends and formed The Manilow Music Project as part of his nonprofit Manilow Health and Hope Fund. The Manilow Music Project (MMP) values the importance of music programs in our schools and donates instruments and materials to school music programs. The MMP is sponsored by Yamaha, Hal Leonard and the Toys 'R Us Children's Fund.

For more information on the Manilow Fund for Health and Hope,
please visit

HOW MANY TIMES have I blogged on this? Or posted a link of some sort? Lessee.....

March 5, 2008: NBC Nightly News - Better Minds Through Music

April 15, 2008: More on Barry and Music and Schools

Music Together - Introducing Preschoolers to Music

Cultural Programs at the Hindman Settlement School

I don't mind repeating myself on this because you can't say it enough: music programs are just as important to kids and their academic performance and development in life as any "standard" school subject. The top link describes one of many studies showing that kids who have access to SOME kind of music program do better in "regular" school subjects. That lesson was taken to heart by the Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky, a school dedicated to educating children with severe learning disabilities (or "differences" as the headmaster is quick to point out). The cultural programs lift the Appalachian students' spirits, not only taking advantage of the music/academic link, but reinforcing the pride people of the mountains have in their heritage. Even if the rest of the world stereotypes these salt-of-the-earth people as toothless, inbred hicks, they know better and their music is how the truth of their culture is expressed.

But in most school districts, music programs, along with gym and art, are the first to get cut when there's a question of money or priorities. Either they don't acknowledge the positive impact of music education, or they are aware of it and there just isn't any money. Even in California, where the stereotypical image is conspicuous consumption and spectacular wealth growing on trees. The reality is most of the state is no different than the other 49 - average working families who can't afford the taxes that would fully fund all of the programs that are good for their kids. So tough decisions get made and programs get cut - starting with music.

What I love most about Barry's involvement in local schools is that it's just that: local. He's not trying to be some grandiose hotshot out to save the world because he says so. It's an example that anyone in any community can follow. He's not making this contribution alone, he's got at least three major companies backing him. Not to mention contributions to the fund by his fans. And he's starting with his immediate area around Palm Springs.

Is there any community in the US that doesn't have the potential to make a similar contribution to their local schools if they chose to work together and pool their resources?

No. See, wasn't that easy?

I'm looking forward to seeing how the press conference goes tomorrow. If there's video, I'll try to link to it. I'd love to see these schools get the shot in the arm their programs need and a chain reaction to other school districts as time goes on.

Way to go, Barry. There's a lot of us out here who have been trying to spread this message for a long time but it takes someone in your position to get the attention focused where it needs to be.

UPDATE: Here is an account of the press conference. I'll link to more as they come up.
Link on the Network
Pictures on the Network
Pictures on Blogilow

1 comment:

  1. Speaking from someone who benefited from a school music program and from a mother whose kids were not as fortunate I also commend Barry for his local involvement. It seems these days that most of us spend our time complaining about how bad things are and we don't do anything to make things better. Barry is setting the example for all of us.

    Way to go Barry. As always, you're a class act!