Give Music Life Newsletter: December 2014

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

FMF forms exciting new partnership!

The Foundation has a new collaboration with the innovative online music sharing service MillionTraqs.com. The website takes a unique approach by forwarding users to new artists’ websites based on the selection of their album cover art – reminiscent of a time when music lovers would shop for vinyl in record stores. With this new agreement, the Foundation becomes MillionTraqs.com official charity partner, attempting to bring more awareness and exposure to our mission. In return, the Foundation plans to coordinate with the online music service on upcoming events and help promote top chart artists. Additionally, the Foundation will receive 20 percent of all sales as MillionTraqs is dedicated to the support of music education and therapy programs.

You’re never too young to rock!

RockSTAR Sacramento is a non-profit music education program in that aims to return music to California school systems and simultaneously help children reach their rock ‘n roll dreams. This goal is met by hiring professional local musicians and receiving celebrity support from famous artists, such as Slash, Gene Simmons, and Sammy Hagar – just to name a few. The children learn how to play guitar, bass, drums and keyboard. RockSTAR Sacramento is heralded as one of the most established, effective and entertaining programs for anyone who is ready to rock!

Even though RockSTAR Sacramento boasts an incredible all-star lineup of musicians at its core, the program is relatively new and therefore struggles to obtain grants to supply the necessary equipment for its program.

“As a growing nonprofit, a huge cost to us is finding student instruments. These expenses were holding us back from being able to offer the program to more schools and students,” says Music Director Jamie Hudson. “Our grant writer was delighted when she came across the Fender Music Foundation!”

The importance of music in our school system is shared by RockSTAR Sacramento and the Foundation, and the decision to award a grant to its program came naturally. Today, children hold in their hands a total of seven instruments – beautiful acoustic and electric guitars from Fender and Jackson.

The Foundation was pleased to learn that RockSTAR Sacramento has been able to double the amount of bands in their program since receiving this donation.

“Having access to quality instruments is crucial to our success and we constantly hear from students that the Fender guitars are their favorites!” Jamie says.

RockSTAR Sacramento provides children with a excellent opportunity to succeed musically as no prior experience is required and all the necessary tools are available for free. The classes run about four months in length and each child performs in a band consisting of seven students or less. At term’s end, kids have the chance to play before audiences at such famous places as The Grammy Museum and The House of Blues.

“Students perform in an off-site Showcase and we always thank the Fender Music Foundation to the 400 plus members of our audience,” says Jamie. “We are so grateful for that support!”

Hale Charter Academy

Robert and Chris enjoy what are known as site visits – seeing firsthand what grantee programs do with the donations gives purpose to our mission. As they approached the music classroom at Hale Charter Academy Middle School, anxious and excited adults spilled into the hallway as the recitals began. For many parents, it was here that they saw promise in the future of their children.

It’s wonderful to not only see but hear the joy as it emanates from a young boy or girl playing a guitar, whether it’s the subtle harmonies of an acoustic or the exhilarating power cords of an electric. Each child strumming along in their own chaotic conversation and with just a few claps of the hands, music teacher Tom Kositchek brings them together as one; it’s really something to behold.

When Tom joined Hale Charter Academy more than 10 years ago he noticed the guitars of the music program were looking quite dated. And since the Academy takes their music programs very seriously, he knew it was time for an infusion of new instruments.

“Hale is heavily into the performing arts, and we have many students who come from performing arts and music production homes,” he says.

Learning of the Foundation’s support of music education and therapy programs from the parent of one of his students, Tom applied for and received a bevy of new acoustic and electric guitars.

“The parents are thrilled with the program,” he says. “I know the instruments have inspired kids to learn some rock and roll and many have bought electric guitars while attending the class.”

Perhaps it’s just a sign of the times but Tom says with the addition of quality electric guitars a number of his students are using online videos to learn more advanced riffs.   Even during lunch, kids are hungry for more time to practice during the break. The infatuation with the iconic rock instruments leads them to buying guitars to be played in bands down the road.

“Since doing so, there has been more response than I can handle from kids who want to learn rock standards on electric,” he says. “I have set up a dozen laptop tutorial stations loaded up with hand-picked YouTube videos where kids can plug in to effects pedals, put on headphones and learn at their own pace.”

And it is with this same measure of enthusiasm the Foundation proudly supports Mr. Kositchek and the students of the music program at Hale Charter Academy.


Flory Academy of Sciences and Technology: Success Express

The Flory Academy in Moorpark, California is a school which focuses on math and science but also has a commitment to the arts by way of their after-school program, Success Express. In this program, Jenny Murry, a teacher with the Academy, takes great pride in what she does with her elementary school students.
For her, it’s more than just teaching a child to play an instrument – she sees kids developing new friendships because of a common interest in music. And beyond building relationships with classmates, individual students have seen self-improvement through the guitar classes provided by Success Express.
“We have seen the students involved in the guitar classes become more self-confident, and more interested in school – especially our English Learners [students],” she says.
“Music transcends language and we have seen children forming connections and friendships with others in their guitar classes.”
The influence on the children of the Academy’s Success Express music program has grown in the households of the students as well. Jenny says one child asked his parents for a guitar last year as a Christmas gift.
“He was so excited to share with us that he is now able to play the guitar whenever he wanted to at home,” she says.
And for the children who didn’t get a guitar from good Ol’ Saint Nick, Success Express has a loaner program designed to encourage practicing while at home.
“We also allow the students to “check-out” an acoustic guitar for the weekend if they sign a “contract” saying they will look after the instrument and return it on Monday,” she says.  “This allows for musical experimentation and a musical outlet for students who financially cannot afford their own instrument.”
The benefits of the music program aren’t limited to just the students who are enrolled, as the drama program has collaborated with the kids performing songs to go along with the plays.  Each student not only spends 40 minutes of their day (Monday through Friday) on how to play the instrument but how to read music – something Jenny says “empowers the students in academic ways as well.”
The Success Express program offers two acoustic guitar classes for beginners and advance students – and now with the support of the Foundation with the donation of a few Fender Squier Stratocasters – an electric guitar class has been added to the program.

“Thank you again so much for your help and the generous donation of these beautiful guitars. I can’t even begin to tell you how much it means to our program and to the students who will benefit from learning music with them,” Jenny says. “We are trying to “Give Music Life!”

The Freedom in Music Project

Philip Oliveira and wife Linda work together to help at risk children in New Mexico by using the power of music through their Freedom in Music Project. In doing so, together with a staff of volunteers and mentors who teach youth how to play instruments, they work to build a better future for all of us by helping the children of today. The program targets youth in various detention centers whom are in need of guidance because of trouble with drugs and/or violence. Philip says “music is one path that has saved countless lives because the time spent making it deters other paths ending in poor choices and harmful behavior.” For The Freedom in Music Project, giving youth opportunities through music to improve their lives once they are released truly makes music matter.

 Shannon Yamanaka

Fresh out of college with a degree in advertising, Shannon was in need of an internship back in 2012 that would exercise her newly developed skills. Applying for a position with the Foundation, she was brought on as a photographer to take pictures for our memorabilia and write ads using Google AdWords. When she’s not designing graphics for an ad campaign, Shannon enjoys listening to hip-hop and R&B; especially artists such as  Pharrell and Janelle Monae. Occasionally listening to classic rock, something she says is an influence from working at the Foundation. Music is an important part of her life, she says. “It helps me think more creatively and allows me to express myself.”

Happy Holidays from everyone at the Fender Music Foundation!

  • We are excited and preparing for this year’s NAMM and looking forward to meeting new people and strengthening current contacts with manufacturers.
  • Donations for the holiday season are up and for the month of December the average daily amount is $96 with a end-of-year projection of nearly $5000.
  • We are proud to announce the generous donation of $10,000 from longtime supporter Sherwin-Williams. A special thanks goes out to Senior VP of Operations at Fender, Jeff Blom.
  • Our Executive Director has essentially won his fantasy football league; family and friends are no longer speaking to him.