Give Music Life Newsletter: June 2014

A monthly newsletter to keep you in key with the Fender Music Foundation.

Buzzworthy Events

John Fogerty with a Fender Telecaster at USC Thornton School of Music.

Foundation gives Telecaster to USC graduating class

The Foundation donated a Fender Telecaster to this year’s graduating class of the USC Thornton School of Music, which was then signed by the students and presented to honorary commencement speaker, John Fogerty. Among the grads was the legendary guitarist’s son Shane. The iconic instrument was offered to show their appreciation for Mr. Fogerty’s participation.

Grantee News

Fender Music Foundation inspires students of Laraway

Laraway students jamming at a backyard festival.

Excitement and a chorus of musical passions have been ignited for the children of Laraway Youth and Family Services. Students have found inspiration towards school, teachers have new tools in their toolboxes to motivate students, and children who’ve had a difficult time expressing their thoughts and feelings in words are now learning a new language as a means of self-expression.

All of this was made possible through the donation of guitars and accessories from the Fender Music Foundation. As a grantee, Laraway Youth and Family Services received practice amps and accessories, five Jackson guitars, a Fender acoustic guitar, a “Baby Rodriguez” classical guitar, and a Squier Stratocaster guitar.

“Students who would otherwise not engage in anything remotely musical were suddenly enamored with the sight and sound of these beautiful, and in some cases radical-looking and sounding guitars and amps,” says Development Director Katherine Stamper of the Laraway School.

Located in the small town of Johnson, Vermont, Laraway Youth and Family Services provides specialized educational, therapeutic, and behavioral services to children with learning disabilities, and youth and families who have suffered trauma, all within a tightknit community.

The impact of the instrument donation isn’t just limited to the residents and students; guests of Laraway also feel it. Through frequently hosting visitors, including benefactors, Katherine revealed that having the music and the children’s voices in the background lends to the conversation, and generates continued interest. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that these students have been inspired by the donation, and by the realization that dedication and practice today can lead to bigger things tomorrow. The youth of Laraway are now aware that by applying themselves, they can achieve their goals and dreams.

So much so, when students hold the guitars in their hands, each does so with a sense of pride and care, says Katherine. She also recognizes how much fun the kids are having.

“We’ve got lime green and fire engine red guitars! Our walls vibrate with music and song from the kids.”


Oaktown Jazz Workshops

A young student of Oaktown Jazz Workshops practicing with a classical guitar.

When you think of Oakland, California, perhaps what comes to mind is the NFL’s Oakland Raiders or maybe MLB’s Oakland Athletics. However, for Ravi Abcarian, Executive Director of the Oaktown Jazz Workshops, it’s all about infusing the rich sounds of jazz music with the backdrop of youth growing up in the harsh streets of Oakland.

For Ravi, as an accomplished jazz bassist and teacher for over 20 years, sharing the passion of jazz music with the children of the East Bay, and the city of Oakland is something he truly enjoys. Knowing the youth in the community are quite impoverished and many of the schools are lacking music programs, he’s grateful for the opportunity to pass on what he’s learned over the years.

Oaktown Jazz Workshops approach to teaching jazz music is different than what is taught in a high school, as where kids may read sheet music or perform in the school band. With the Workshops, professional musicians offer instruction and the traditional method is used, which consists of learning to play by ear, the freedom of improvisation, and creativity offered in the arrangements. The Workshops are available all year long and to children between the ages of 10 to 18.

Teaching with the Oaktown Jazz Workshops for more than 14 years, Ravi new well the needs of the program and his students. Although having the fundamental instruments for a jazz band (drums, piano, bass) they were in definite need of an electric guitar. Knowing what he wanted but uncertain where to turn, he consulted fellow musician and contributing journalist to Guitar Player Magazine, Jude Gold.

“Fender was the first company that came to mind because of the solid, high quality instruments that it produces,” he says. Jude suggested Fender as a source of support as well, he says.

Upon contacting the Fender Music Foundation and qualifying for the donation of a Sunburst Gretsch Pro Jet electric guitar, Ravi and the Oaktown Jazz Workshops now have a complete musical ensemble.

Ravi believes the partnership between the Fender Music Foundation and the Oaktown Jazz Workshops program has been wonderful and he’s grateful because typically securing grants from other foundations would only cover operational expenses. Also, the kids enjoy the sound of the Gretsch because past instrument donations were used and worn-out.

“Playing on brand new Fender instruments has really boosted confidence levels among our young musicians,” he says.

Update: Teen Music Workshop

A Fender Squier bass in the hands of a teen from the TMW.

As the days get warmer, things are heating up with Bryan Wing and the Teen Music Workshop have as they’ve been quite busy since our last report from November, 2013. Just like last year, the Workshop will be performing at Disney’s California Adventure Summer Concert Series, however, there will be the addition of a horn and string section. Their summer tour will include Knott’s Berry Farm and Raging Waters with show dates beginning June 28. It’s good to see that the long-standing relationship between TMW and the Foundation has led to new and exciting events for the teens.

The Foundation’s involvement with TMW continues as together the two are working towards having the teens perform live at NAMM 2015. Bryan is excited about the potential opportunity and sees it as “the experience of a lifetime.”  The performance by TMW would  help highlight what the Foundation does to industry professionals and music educators, illustrating the benefits of when music opportunities are provided to teens with limited resources from disadvantaged inner city backgrounds, he said.

Beginning this summer TMW will be offering expanded summer music workshops all throughout the San Bernardino community.  Guitar classes will be offered and taught by advanced TMW students, with vocal performance and recording classes provided at the new Looking Glass Studio for Performing Arts in San Bernardino. TMW will hold open auditions for our summer performance group.  Also, TMW is planning to release their first fundraising album – containing original and covers of Classic Rock songs – at the end of the summer.

Bryan Wing and TMW have set goals to grow student participation in music lessons, recording/production classes, and performance groups through frequent community concerts, which promote the benefits of free community music programs for teens. Also, Bryan is working on including a video technology program for TMW starting in the 2014–2015 school years. Moreover, free music programs for teens will continue to be funded via fundraising, grant writing and album sales.

Exciting year so far for TMW as the all girl group “Alive in the Lights” has taken third-place in the Inland Empire Battle for Hawaii, where they’ve won prizes from Guitar Center in San Bernardino. Also, “Alive in the Lights” and “Silver City” are competing in the Battle for Portland Finals for the opportunity to be the opening act for American Idol, Kim Caldwell; what an accomplishment for these talented teens from TMW as they’re the only teen groups that made it in to this competition.

Music Matters

Lighthouse fourth-graders Annaleise, Celeste, Rosalind, and Jessica love their new instruments so much that they can be found in the music room at just about every opportunity.

Music brings generations together

Stelet Kim, the Development Manager at Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland, California, has witnessed firsthand the impact music is having on her students. The Charter School reports a renewed curiosity in their K-4 students after receiving the donation of a Fender Jazz bass, a Jackson electric guitar, and a DW drum kit. “The injection of new instruments has invigorated the love of learning,” Stelet says. The interest in music has grown beyond the classroom. With the newfound joy of creating, listening, and singing songs, the students of Lighthouse feel a bond not only with their peers but with adults as well; bridging the generation gap. “They say that learning to play music has brought them closer to family members,” Stelet says. “Celeste plays guitar with her uncle and Jessica sings with her grandmother.”

Partner Updates

  • The Foundation is working with media production company, FUTURELEAP, in a crowdfunding campaign for the movie “The Bridge” featuring Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott. Perks of the new relationship include consulting from social media expert, Marcus Lovingood, who’s generously donating his time and expertise to maximize success of our crowdfunding projects.
  • The Foundation in collaboration with The Boys and Girls Club of America, is working with the Gipsy Kings on a crowdfunding event for their 25th Anniversary Concert at the Greek Theater, 30 August. The band is providing a package that includes VIP tickets, a backstage meet and greet, and a band signed Córdoba Pro 55 guitar.
  • DW Drums is creating a custom snare drum to be signed by the famous Latin band “Mana” for the Foundation’s September crowdfunding event to be featured on CharityBuzz.
  • Guitar Artist Pamelina Hovnatanian of Pamelina Studios is creating a line of military service member guitars to be offered in a collaborative fundraising effort with the Gary Sinise Foundation.
  • Bill Montgomery of “Drifting With The All Stars” is coordinating drifting experiences with professional drivers to support Foundation partners and our fundraising efforts.

Foundation Highlights

  • The Foundation’s new donation page has now been streamlined for a better customer experience, which has increased average contributions.
  • The Foundation is collaborating with the producers of the movie “The Bridge” on a eBay fundraising campaign. The auction includes an Fender Telecaster signed by the cast, an on-the-set meet and greet, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Foundation.
  • Radio station KSWD FM 100.3 “The Sound” interviewed Executive Director Lynn Robison about the Foundation’s mission, upcoming and current events, with the   show scheduled to air in August, 2014 (Listen to excerpt here).
  • Facebook Likes have more than doubled to 26,000 thanks to social media postings of highlights, outreach, and insightful stories by the Foundation’s staff; this has social media engagement increasing over 100% in the past 2 months.
  • The Foundation’s website is currently being redesigned to improve content and simplify navigation.