EducationWatch: NAMM 2010 Recap

Annual winter trade show features panels, seminars and roundtables dedicated to music education
Laurel Fishman

Music Education Days were a featured highlight of the winter 2010 NAMM Show, held Jan. 14–17 in Anaheim, Calif. Music Education Days hosted a select group of key music educators, school administrators and elected officials for meaningful dialogue regarding best practices in music- and arts-education advocacy. NAMM's valuable advocacy resources were explained and alternative approaches to music education were discussed in sessions covering various NAMM Foundation partners' innovative programs.

Music Education Days attendees also had the opportunity to explore the latest musical products available to students and schools. For the first time, NAMM, in conjunction with School Band & Orchestra magazine, invited Music Education Days participants to explore the show's exhibit halls and vote on the most useful products for use within the classroom and for student musicians. Votes were cast for top choices in 13 different categories with a panel of educators presenting the winners of the 2010 Best Tools for Schools. Among the winners were Alfred Publishing's Sound Innovations method book series, selected as Best Tool For Beginners, and YouTube In Music Education by Thomas Rudolph and James Frankel, chosen as Best Web Tool.

An interactive roundtable meeting presented by the Crane Institute for Music Business at the State University of New York Potsdam provided a key opportunity for music educators and music products industry professionals to discuss their mutual concerns about access to music education. The discussion, "Enhancing The Music Education & Music Business Partnership," was open to all show attendees and featured panelists representing D'Addario & Company, Guitar Center and Yamaha Corporation of America, among others.

Also open to all conventiongoers, Idea Center Sessions held on the exhibit floor were well attended, doubling in participation compared to the 2009 NAMM Show. Session topics included Trends In Music Education; Guitar And Percussion Programs: Creating More Music Programs In Schools; Community Music Education Advocacy — Keep Music Education Strong; and Lesson Strategies For The New Decade.

Presented by the Bob Moog Foundation and Carlsbad, Calif.-based Museum of Making Music, a NAMM panel discussion celebrated the museum's premiere of the exhibition Waves Of Inspiration: The Legacy Of Moog. The panel educated the audience about the extraordinary impact of Moog's work within the music industry, including his invention of the Moog synthesizer. As the first public display of artifacts from Moog's archives, the exhibition documents the work of this pioneering electronic music inventor and is open to the public at the museum through April 30.

A new component to NAMM, the Hands-On Training Zone allowed attendees to take part in training seminars face-to-face with music product designers, network with installers and technical contractors, and receive one-on-one mentoring from various experts, including professionals from publishing companies and other industry organizations and associations.

NAMM also presented the live finals of the first-ever SchoolJam USA teen battle of the bands competition. The final competition was the culmination of more than 115,000 online votes to determine the nation's 10 qualifying bands of amateur musicians ages 13–18. The contest rewarded both aspiring music makers and their respective school music programs, as all 10 finalists received prize money to purchase new gear from a NAMM-member music products retailer of their choice, as well as additional money for their school music programs. The winning band, After Math from Austin, Texas, will travel to Frankfurt, Germany, in March to perform at the international 2010 SchoolJam Germany finals. Originally developed by MusikMedia Germany to help promote popular and rock music in schools throughout Germany, SchoolJam has provided thousands of music-loving young adults with the opportunity to perform and network with their peers, increasing their love for playing music and encouraging them to become active musicians.

A live NAMM webcast addressed the current challenges of sustaining and improving access to music education. Quincy Jones, Yoko Ono, GRAMMY Foundation Senior Director of Education David Sears, and arts education professionals spoke about the vital importance of music in the nation's schools. In honor of John Lennon's 70th birthday, Ono presented Brian Rothchild, executive director of the John Lennon Education Tour Bus, with $200,000 to support the bus' effort in bringing music education to children throughout the country. Students from the Fernando Pullum Performing Arts School in South Central Los Angeles performed a medley of Lennon's songs with Rickey Minor, musical director of the GRAMMY Awards. Pullum students exemplify the power of music education. In an area of Los Angeles where only 30 percent of students graduate high school, 100 percent of Pullum students are high school graduates, and 99 percent have continued on to college.

(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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