EducationWatch: Detroit, Honda Partner For Music

Collaboration receives robotic assistance in raising funds for Detroit-based music programs
Laurel Fishman

Bringing attention to the newly-established The Power Of Dreams Music Education Fund for Detroit youth, Honda's Advanced Step In Innovative Mobility (ASIMO) humanoid robot conducted the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at a May concert featuring GRAMMY-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma. In establishing the fund, Honda contributed more than $1 million to support and expand the DSO's nationally acclaimed music education programs. ASIMO's appearance encouraged Detroit children's involvement with the symphony's music education programs. Honda is also funding the launch of a related public awareness campaign, and over the next five years the DSO/Honda partnership will generate a scholarship program, as well as support programs such as DSO Civic Youth Ensemble performances, the DSO's spring Educational Concert Series for schoolchildren, and the 2008 Classical Roots Gala.

Joining with Canada-based Coalition for Music Education at its fourth annual Music Monday celebration, NAMM designated May 5–9 as National Wanna Play Music Week. The initiative is part of NAMM's Wanna Play? public awareness campaign designed to communicate the benefits of music and music education for people of all ages. For Wanna Play Music Week, NAMM developed the "Say You Wanna Play" contest. Hosted on YouTube, contestants created a short video of themselves playing and/or singing an original or public domain song and explaining why they play music. As part of the celebration, NAMM also invited music makers and musicians worldwide to perform "Our Song" at the same time on Music Monday. To promote their efforts, NAMM gave satellite television and radio interviews addressing music's benefits and how to start playing, with coverage reaching 115 million people nationally. Supporting Wanna Play Music Week with performances and media interviews were the Second Amendments, a band consisting of Reps. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.) on drums, Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) on lead guitar, Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) on lead vocals, Jon Porter (R-Nev.) on keyboards, and Dave Weldon (R-Fla.) on bass.

In related news, NAMM members recently visited Washington, D.C., for the organization's annual Advocacy Fly-In event, taking NAMM's pro-music-education message to federal lawmakers in Congress. In an unprecedented 73 meetings with elected officials and staffers, the members explained the necessity of keeping music and arts education as core curriculum subjects in the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act and including in the law more flexibility and funding for access to complete, quality music education. NAMM representatives also outlined goals for an ongoing study by the Government Accountability Office to evaluate the NCLB's impact on student access to music and arts education. To support their case, the representatives presented public-opinion survey and research results identifying overwhelming support for access to music education, including NAMM-sponsored scientific studies linking music and student performance.

To raise awareness for music education, Public School Test Records and GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter Tom Chapin have launched the nationwide distribution of the "Not On The Test" song and video. With music and lyrics by Chapin and his longtime collaborator John Forster, "Not On The Test" makes a powerful statement: "Go on to sleep now, third grader of mine/The test is tomorrow but you'll do just fine/It's reading and math, forget all the rest/You don't need to know what is not on the test/…The school board is faced with no child left behind/With rules but no funding, they're caught in a bind/So music and art and the things you love best/Are not in your school 'cause they're not on the test." Chapin recently presented "Not On The Test" at the New York State United Teachers annual Representative Assembly, and teacher Tracy Allen commented, "He can reach kids and parents in ways we can't." Chapin offers grassroots music education and advocacy information and free downloads of the song at

Taking place in Los Angeles in late April, the fourth annual MUSEXPO welcomed participants from three dozen countries and 40 emerging artists who showcased their music for international music industry professionals. Through interactive panels and networking opportunities, the conference offered state-of-the-art education directly from hundreds of executives from the music, media, mobile and technology sectors. Panels centered on live entertainment, consumer brands, broadcast media, music synchronization in film/television and video games, A&R, publishing, artist management, new media and technology. A "Global Broadcast & Media" panel discussed challenges facing radio amid a climate of burgeoning entertainment options and increasing music-delivery methods. The advertising industry's increasing role in exposing artists was a topic of the "Global Managers Forum"; expanding rights were covered in the "Art & Commerce Through Visual Media" session; and the "Global Live Entertainment Forum" addressed the ongoing growth of the touring business.

(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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