EducationWatch: NAMM 2008 Report

Creativity, education, health, imagination and technology highlight industry convention
Laurel Fishman

Expanding its commitment to music education, NAMM, the International Music Products Association, placed a widening focus on this area during the organization's recent annual trade show in Anaheim, Calif. During the convention, NAMM's Music Education Day offered a full agenda, including the presentation "Perspectives On Music Education Advocacy" and a panel discussion, "New Trends And Tools In Music Learning For California And The Nation."

At the NAMM show's Idea Center, Music Education Day participants attended specialized music education sessions on the convention floor including "Building Local Alliances: Keeping Music Education Strong In Your Community," "Far Out Strings: Going Beyond The Traditional School Orchestra Program," "More Music In Schools: Now, Everybody Play" and "Teaching Music With Technology: New Tools For The Music Room." The sessions were open to all convention-goers, as were several related NAMM University sessions covering a variety of topics including developing and sustaining successful in-store music lesson programs, as well as hand, wrist and elbow fitness for musicians.

Providing students of all ages across the United States and Canada with year-round, free hands-on opportunities to make music, produce video projects and shoot digital photos in its mobile recording studios, the new state-of-the-art John Lennon Educational Tour Bus was open to all NAMM show visitors. Equipped by many NAMM member manufacturers, the bus featured two recording and video production studios, a green-screen room, isolation booth, presentation/demo room, and living quarters for three staffers. The nonprofit mobile Pro Audio and HD video recording facility bus will eventually tour beyond North America, starting with Western Europe and Japan.

NAMM and video game publisher Activision/RedOctane announced a partnership to link NAMM's "Wanna Play?" campaign with the "Guitar Hero III: Legends Of Rock" video game franchise. The public awareness campaign strives to encourage people of all ages to experience making music and strengthen the connection between virtual and real-world guitar playing, while promoting the enjoyment of both.

Also announced were the winning non-music industry companies of the second annual "Wanna Play?" Awards, recognized for promoting music making in their product advertising and promotional efforts by using playing an instrument to convey positive messages. Award recipient Converse highlighted children's natural enthusiasm for making music in a TV commercial featuring Sophie Kasakove, 12-year-old lead singer and guitarist of the band Care Bears on Fire, communicating the simple message, "Learn three chords. You'll know 1,000 songs." Care Bears on Fire also performed at the NAMM show.

Grant winners in one of NAMM's newest initiatives, Disney's High School Musical: The Music In You Grant Program, were announced at the convention. Co-sponsored by the Disney Channel, the program is designed to support music and the arts in schools and help fund school theater productions of "High School Musical." Grants were awarded to 10 middle and high schools across the United States, which will stage their own productions of Disney's "High School Musical."

At the NAMM show, an announcement was made regarding the Music Education Software and Hardware (MESH) initiative, which joins hardware, software, sound content and curriculum to provide solutions for music educators. In addition to aggregating these major components of music education technology, the MESH alliance — consisting of MakeMusic, manufacturer of software and systems for music educators and musicians; Garritan, manufacturer of sound libraries for the educational market; musical instrument manufacturer Yamaha, the world's largest musical instrument manufacturer; and Yamaha-owned Steinberg music production software — is providing relevant training to U.S.-based music teachers.

With ongoing sponsorship from Shure Inc. and NAMM, the House Ear Institute, provided free hearing screenings, hearing protection, literature and education to NAMM show attendees and exhibitors.

In honor of more than two decades of dedicated service as co-founder of Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers (H.E.A.R.), Kathy Peck received NAMM's Believe In Music award at the conference, presented by NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond. Among her accomplishments in promoting hearing education and safety, Peck has collaborated with The Recording Academy in a H.E.A.R. research survey study and with MusiCares at health fairs.

MusicCares had its own presence at the NAMM show, with a booth displaying materials and information on the resources MusiCares provides to members of the music community, from health care and human services to addiction recovery. This included content from the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which recently partnered with the GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares. The Starkey Hearing Foundation promotes hearing health and hearing education, provides personal listening devices to those in need, and supports and conducts research and education in hearing breakthroughs and technologies. In teaming with MusiCares, the foundation is providing hearing instruments to musical artists and others, including approximately 150 Los Angeles area children as part of the recent National GRAMMY Career Day. The Recording Academy was also a booth exhibitor at NAMM 2008 and serviced conference attendee inquiries regarding membership and the organization's programs and initiatives.

(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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