EducationWatch: NAMM Takes It To 11

  • Natasha Bedingfield and the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus
    Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images

Music education remains a central theme at annual music product trade show
Laurel Fishman

The 2011 NAMM Show took place Jan. 13–16 in Anaheim, Calif., featuring new music products from U.S.- and international-based manufacturers and a significantly expanded focus on music education. The convention's Music Education Days allowed music educators to preview various new products and select the Best Tools for Schools, choosing the products they believe would yield the best in innovative solutions and opportunities for music learning.

The show's workshops and sessions encompassed music, teaching formats and technology, including Conn-Selmer Institute's educational forum to support music classroom management. Emphasizing inventiveness and risk-taking as key components of success, the forum was designed to assist college students in transitioning into music education- or business-related professions.

Other educational presentations included The Future Of The Music Business, The Business Of Entertainment, Teaching Guitar Workshop, and Drums And Drumming. The Generation Next Think Tank Sessions featured industry professionals expressing their ambitions and goals with students. The Crane Institute for Music Business' Sandy Feldstein Industry Roundtable focused on the relationship between music education and the music products sector, and music career development. Among the Arts Schools Network's panel discussions, I Want To Win A GRAMMY addressed the reality of what it takes to achieve that dream.

NAMM's Music Education Days keynote panel on Jan. 16 featured Abreu Fellows from the New England Conservatory of Music's El Sistema USA program. Modeled after a program originated in Venezuela more than 30 years ago by José Antonio Abreu, El Sistema USA's philosophy is that music education is essential, and fostering a child's joy of learning music results in optimum achievement, both academically and personally. During the presentation, Fellows committed to guiding the development of El Sistema programs in the United States and internationally for at least one year, and also pledged to fulfill El Sistema's goal of providing music education and other opportunities to underserved and at-risk youth.

Presented by five-time GRAMMY-winning bassist Victor Wooten, The Music Lesson session on Jan. 15 was an entertaining, informative morning of musical exploration and discussion. Wooten's presentation was based on his book, The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search For Growth Through Music, an imaginative story that mixes practical self-discovery with out-of-the-box approaches to music and life in general.

Participants experienced educational offerings on music technology and business at NAMM's Hands-On Training Zone. One-hour classes were held throughout the weekend covering more than 70 topics ranging from new techniques for DJs to social media marketing, Pro Tools and entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, NAMM University Sessions provided multiple classes on retaining, restoring and initiating school and community music programs, including Guerilla Tactics Series: Never Give Up — How Community Support Reinstated A Music Program.

A special NAMM show meeting educated attendees about Recreational Music Making, highlighted by a discussion led by UpBeat Drum Circles' Christine Stevens and a panel of retailers, manufacturers and facilitators talking about their successful RMM programs. NAMM president/CEO Joe Lamond announced a NAMM Foundation music research award program celebrating the life and legacy of the late researcher Karl Bruhn, who made extraordinary contributions to RMM, music education and the music products industry. Barry Bittman, M.D. and President/CEO of the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute, spoke about the institute's dedicated work in RMM.

While parked at the NAMM show, the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus held interactive tours and hosted a performance by GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Natasha Bedingfield and presentation of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest Song of the Year award to Madison Violet. The bus is a nonprofit, state-of-the-art mobile pro audio and HD video recording facility that provides hands-on experiences for students of all ages across the United States and Canada. The bus announced a new partnership with Avid, maker of video and audio production solutions, including the addition of Avid products such as Pro Tools and Media Composer to the bus' studio.

Earlier this month, final judging took place for Internet retailer Musician's Friend's John Lennon Songwriting Contest Video Challenge. A panel of artist judges, including the Bacon Brothers, Bedingfield and Jill Sobule, identified Saratoga Springs, N.Y.-based Third Nature as the contest grand prize winners. Their winning video will appear on more than 17,000 movie screens in the United States for one month.

The premiere of the film The Music Never Stopped in New York on March 4 generated proceeds for the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function's groundbreaking research, clinical services and educational programs. The movie's music therapist character is based on IMNF co-founder Dr. Concetta Tomaino, whose pioneering results in restoring function to those deemed incurable by modern medicine were detailed in a recent interview.

(Laurel Fishman is a writer and editor specializing in entertainment media. She reports regularly for, 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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