EducationWatch: 5 Years For SupportMusic

Organization continues to support music education in the United States
Laurel Fishman

Celebrating its fifth anniversary,'s growing coalition of more than 165 organizations continues to upgrade its effective music advocacy materials for parents, educators, children and other concerned community members. In serving the needs of grassroots advocates, the SupportMusic Coalition provides extensive music education and advocacy resources such as downloadable mailers, a guide, petition, and media communications templates and brochures, many of which are available in Spanish. SupportMusic's five-year benchmark was acknowledged by Michael Blakeslee, senior deputy executive director of MENC: the National Association for Music Education, who lauded the coalition's development and dissemination of the latest information — including research correlating music education with graduation and attendance rates, scholastic achievement and earning power — helping to restore and further music education in U.S. schools.

Now in its 55th year, the International Society for Music Education held the 28th ISME World Conference July 20-25 in Bologna, Italy. Dozens of conference sessions addressed varied topics such as music in schools, music in the community, multicultural/intercultural perspectives, curriculum and curriculum development, musical competencies, musical development, policy and advocacy, and new media and technology among others. Representing more than 70 countries, ISME is a worldwide network for music educators at all academic levels, music education researchers and students, music performance teachers, community musicians, music therapists and music medicine practitioners.

The American Society of Young Musicians presented its annual Hollywood Live Talent Showcase on Aug. 14 in Hollywood, Calif. With artists performing in musical genres ranging from country to hip-hop, the event raised funds to support ASYM's services. More than 2,500 musicians annually utilize ASYM's resources such as professional mentoring, counseling and financial assistance, as well as housing, employment and substance abuse treatment referrals. The organization's membership consists of musicians, industry executives, music students, and other professionals and supporters within the music industry — all united by a common commitment to enrich the life experiences, educations and careers of young artists.

In connection with its Bratz franchise of DVDs, CDs and other products, Lionsgate recently awarded $60,000 in scholarships through an essay contest, with at least one winner earmarking her scholarship money for music education. Seven-year-old Natasha Barton of Lakewood, Colo., wrote about her passion for playing piano and writing music, and her ambitions to become a composer and "teach children who cannot afford piano lessons." In related news, the new Bratz Girlz Really Rock animated DVD of sing-along, dance-along songs has a make-your-own music video component. Kids can choose their own song, music video theme, video clips and special effects. The end result is a self-created, customized Bratz music video exemplifying the Bratz' positive emphasis on personal expression and pursuing dreams.

Putumayo Kids Presents: Sesame Street Playground is a new CD/DVD set of educational songs and music videos from Sesame Street productions from around the world. The release has 13 songs and five music videos featuring favorite Sesame Street characters. A portion of proceeds from the release will benefit Sesame Street's non-profit organization Sesame Workshop and its productions in more than 100 countries.

GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Ella Jenkins' "You'll Sing A Song, I'll Sing A Song" was added to the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress earlier this year. Considered to be the "First Lady of Children's Music," Jenkins has enchanted generations of children and adults with her signature call-and-response musical style. Under terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000 — an initiative for which The Recording Academy was a leading advocate — the Library selects 25 recordings each year that are "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."

Featuring several songs derived from songwriting workshops with children, Trout Fishing In America's Big Round World is the latest clever, high-energy kid's CD from the GRAMMY-nominated duo consisting of Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet. Students from Sonora Elementary School in Orange County, Calif., helped develop the album's tribute song, "Martin Luther King And Rosa Parks." Said Idlet, "Having fourth-graders come up with the idea of writing a song about these two icons from our childhood was surprising, inspiring and encouraging."

GRAMMY winner Bill Harley's new concert CD/DVD releases, Yes To Running! Bill Harley Live, were produced for Montana Public Television before an all-ages audience at the University of Montana. Showcasing the quirky humor Harley presents nationwide at venues ranging from small classrooms to large concert halls, Yes To Running!... engagingly captures children's experiences, appealing to young and old people alike.

(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.)


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