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Entertainment News

Sunday, 15 April, 2007 11:12 AM

CMA's "Keep The Music Playing" Program Funds Music Education in Nashville Public Schools


With half the net proceeds from CMA Music Festival, CMA donates $368,502 for music education for students of Nashville public schools. (l-r) Dr. Pedro Garcia, Director, Metro Nashville Public Schools; Steve Buchanan, Senior VP, Media and Entertainment Gaylord Entertainment; Tony Conway, President/Co-Owner, Buddy Lee Attractions and CMA Music Festival Executive Producer; Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry; Kay Simmons, Executive Director of the Nashville Alliance for Public Education; Tammy Genovese, CMA COO; Bob Wilson, Principal of Nashville School of the Arts (NSA); Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell; Carol Crittenden, Metro Nashville Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator; CMA Board President Clarence Spalding, President, Spalding Entertainment.

By Scott Stem
© 2007 CMA Close Up News Service

CMA donated $368,502 from the 2006 CMA Music Festival to Nashville's nearly 75,000 public school students. CMA's "Keep the Music Playing" program funds music education in Metro Nashville in partnership with the Nashville Alliance for Public Education (NAPE).

"When we launched this charity initiative last year, we made a promise to donate $300,000 to music education on behalf of all the artists who participate in the Festival for free," said CMA COO Tammy Genovese. "But record attendance at the 2006 CMA Music Festival made it possible for us to increase the amount to $368,502. And the Alliance and Metro Nashville Public school system are already putting those funds to excellent use for the students."

CMA announced the donation at a March 7 news conference at the Nashville School of the Arts (NSA). The event featured Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell; CMA Board member and multi-Platinum artist Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry; and Director, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools Dr. Pedro Garcia. Students from A.Z. Kelley Elementary School and Isaiah T. Creswell Middle Arts Magnet School performed during the event.

"'Keep the Music Playing' is proof that all of us here in Nashville, in the music industry and in our schools understand that the future of Music City depends on nurturing young musicians now," said Mayor Purcell. "We are grateful to CMA for this generous contribution and for their commitment to a re-energized partnership between the music industry and the City at large."

"We are very thankful for the support of CMA and the 'Keep the Music Playing' program," said Dr. Garcia. "We know students who study and play music do better academically. These funds will allow us to start the music playing for some students and keep it playing for others. We're confident the music created today will make significant differences tomorrow for our children."

"Today I'm representing the artists in the Country Music industry who believe in giving back to the schools in our community," Gentry said. "Many of us live here. Our businesses are here. We are invested in this community in so many ways, and giving back is a very important part of who we are. I was fortunate growing up to have music education including band and chorus, and I was able to achieve a dream I never thought was possible. It is exciting to see these students get just as excited about music as I was when I was in school."

Gentry presented a new 2007 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 truck that was requested by NSA to transport musical instruments and gear to the students' numerous performances throughout the year.

The truck is only the beginning of the story. Hundreds of musical instruments for students in grade, middle and high schools have been ordered, including bassoons, cellos, clarinets, cymbals, drums, flutes, glockenspiels, keyboards, saxophones, trombones, trumpets, tubas, violas, violins, xylophones and more. These instruments will be distributed to A.Z. Kelley Elementary, Bailey Middle, Croft Middle Design Center, Isaiah T. Creswell Middle Magnet, Haynes Middle, May Werthan Shayne Elementary, Stratford Comprehensive High, William Henry Oliver Middle and Wright Middle Schools.

The donation also includes money to create and stock piano labs at East Literature Magnet, McGavock High, MNPS Middle College High and Stratford Comprehensive High schools.
In addition to the Chevy Silverado 2500 truck, NSA will also receive stage curtains and baffling; 10 Mac G5s and Final Cut Pro for movie and video editing; 10 Mac G5s and Pro Tools for the recording studio; and additional recording microphones and gear.

"The Nashville Alliance set a goal to provide musical instruments for all Nashville Public Schools so that every student could take full advantage of the benefits of music education," said Kay Simmons, Executive Director of the Nashville Alliance. "'Keep the Music Playing' is turning those aspirations into reality. We are so very grateful to CMA and the individual artists for this partnership. We know that it will have an immediate impact by putting hundreds of instruments into the hands of students, but the real measure of its impact will be felt for years to come."

The Nashville Alliance for Public Education was established in 2002 by a group of corporate and civic leaders with the goal of improving public education for students in Nashville schools. Working in tandem with the Metro Nashville Public Schools Board and the Director of Schools, the nonprofit group identifies areas of need and channels private community resources toward those programs and schools, which serve Metro Nashville's nearly 75,000 public school students.

Music education is a funding priority for NAPE. Ten million dollars is needed to replace and replenish instruments throughout 134 Metro Nashville Public Schools. Two million dollars has already been raised, but the need exists for an additional $8 million.

Research supports that those students who participate in a quality music education make higher scores in math and reading. It prepares students for success in society. Research states secondary students who participated in band or orchestra reported the lowest lifetime and current abuse of substances. The study of music also enhances self-discipline and diligence, which carries over into skills for life, according to Carol Crittenden, Metro Nashville Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator.

Crittenden said, "A quality music education should be the right of every student. At a time when we have a focus on the graduation rate of Metro Nashville Public Schools students, results of surveys sent to the performing arts teachers showed that Metro Nashville Public Schools students involved in the performing arts in 2005-2006 had a 98 percent graduation rate. It is, therefore, our quest to make sure that every student who wants to participate in band and orchestra can do so. With the help of CMA in partnership with Nashville Alliance for Public Education, the wish for this to happen will turn into reality."

In 2001, CMA launched "Cause for Celebration!" as a way to say thanks to the hundreds of artists and celebrities who give their time to make appearances and perform at CMA Music Festival for free. As part of the "Cause for Celebration!" program, half the net proceeds from the Festival were donated to charities selected by the artists. During 2001-2005, CMA donated more than $800,000, divided among more than 100 individual charities with the majority of the organizations based in Middle Tennessee.

In 2005, NAPE was the No. 1 charity chosen by the artists through "Cause for Celebration!" That year, nearly $20,000 from the funds given to NAPE bought instruments and a guitar lab for NSA.
Wanting the funds donated to have a lasting and bigger impact while realizing that the need for improvement in music education was great, the CMA Artist Relations Committee and Board of Directors evolved the program in 2006 into "Keep the Music Playing" with a single focus on music education in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

One hundred percent of all money donated by CMA Music Festival will be used for music education and go directly to the schools and school programs identified by NAPE. Steve Buchanan, Senior VP Media and Entertainment Gaylord Entertainment and chairman of the CMA Marketing and Communications Committee serves as a representative of the CMA Board and oversees the distribution of the CMA Music Festival charitable funds and report to CMA's Board.

CMA Music Festival is an unparalleled music experience celebrating America's music. The event, which Mayor Purcell calls "Nashville's Signature Musical Event," brings the community together with fans from around the world. And with more people attending than ever in the history of the event - 161,000 aggregate attendance over four days in 2006 - CMA anticipates being able to contribute even more to NAPE to be used for school music programs in 2007.


Troy Gentry with students from Isaiah T. Creswell Middle Arts Magnet School. is Detroit's exclusive media outlet for this syndicated weekly column!

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