Education Watch: IMNF Expands

New York-based institution adds music meditation studio
Laurel Fishman

The Bronx, N.Y.-based Institute for Music and Neurologic Function has expanded its space, adding dedicated areas for a neuroscience lab, pediatric treatment center, extended library, music meditation studio, video archiving lab, and more. The IMNF is a nonprofit organization providing residential, home and community-based long-term care for chronically ill and disabled adults throughout the New York metropolitan area. Earlier this year IMNF partnered with the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall to offer groundbreaking musical experiences in the Musical Connections program, pairing the IMNF's internationally recognized music therapy pioneers with Weill's top musicians. Musical Connections provides diverse musical experiences in senior centers, shelters, and correctional facilities in New York for people who might otherwise be deprived of the benefits of musical interaction.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts recently launched ArtsEdge, a new national website dedicated to K–12 arts education, with a concert by They Might Be Giants. The site features sections for lessons, activities and projects, and resources for arts-active parents, families and communities, as well as a media library with audio stories, performance clips and games. In recent years, They Might Be Giants has participated in educational projects for children, and the group won a GRAMMY for Best Musical Album For Children for Here Come The 123s in 2008.

The Country Music Association is donating all net proceeds from the 2010 CMA Music Festival to support music education and flood recovery in Metro Nashville. The festival took place in June and aired Sept. 1, raising more than $2.9 million. The proceeds will be split evenly between CMA's Keep the Music Playing initiative and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, which provides grants to support flood victims. The Keep the Music Playing initiative has now donated more than $4.7 million to support music education in Nashville public schools, with prior proceeds used to build music labs and to purchase nearly 4,000 instruments for Metro Nashville public schools through a partnership with the Nashville Alliance for Public Education. The total also includes an annual endowment for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's Words & Music program, which assists language arts and music teachers with classroom instruction in songwriting basics.

In related news, on Oct. 13 the NAMM Foundation's Wanna Play Fund announced a donation of $10,000 to Nashville's W.O. Smith Music School, which provides quality music instruction to children from low-income families. At a press conference to announce the donation, former Arkansas governor and Fox News talk show host Mike Huckabee and country singer/songwriter Aaron Tippin also announced a new recording project to benefit music education. I Wanna Play!: An Album To Put Musical Instruments Into The Hands Of Every Child In America features performances by Huckabee, George Jones, Ronnie Milsap, Neil Sedaka and Tippin, and students from W.O. Smith School singing on the title track. Since 1984 the W.O. Smith Music School has provided musical instruction via a 200-member volunteer faculty of local studio musicians, symphony players, college professors, public school teachers, church musicians, private teachers, and university students. Each year, the school serves more than 600 students ages 6–18.

Also in Nashville, instrument manufacturer KHS America donated $23,500 worth of musical instruments to the Nashville Symphony in September, completing the replacement of the symphony's lost Instrument Petting Zoo, which was destroyed in last May's flooding of Schermerhorn Symphony Center. With its original number of 50 instruments now fully restored, the Instrument Petting Zoo will continue as a key component of the symphony's music education programs.

MENC: The National Association for Music Education has released a new series of Why Music? radio public service announcements, featuring top artists discussing the value of music education. Those added to the existing roster of more than 40 participating artists include the Backstreet Boys, Pat Benatar, Harry Connick Jr., and Anika Noni Rose, who talk about their personal experiences with music in school and/or the importance of music education.

On Sept. 29 the California Alliance For Arts Education along with the Music Center — Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County presented Education, Creativity And California's Future, a forum on arts education taking place in Los Angeles. Actors Jack Black, Ben McKenzie and Malcolm Jamal Warner and recording artist Taylor Dayne joined two candidates for state superintendent of public instruction, Larry Aceves and Tom Torlakson. Laurie Schell, executive director of the California Alliance for Arts Education, commented, "This forum was a great opportunity to shine a spotlight, literally, on the role arts education plays in developing well-rounded, creative individuals who can become actors and musicians, but who more often become engineers, teachers, parents, Internet entrepreneurs, or business leaders." Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter Trustee Lamont Dozier added, "We all know that if you help nurture a passion for the arts in kids it'll keep them off the street and give them something to dream about and reach for."

(Laurel Fishman is a writer and editor specializing in entertainment media. She reports regularly for and GRAMMY magazine, and she is an advocate for the benefits of music making, music listening, music education, music therapy and music-and-the-brain research.)