Any successful songwriter or composer will likely tell you that songwriting is a carefully honed craft. Sure, inspiration can sometimes come out of nowhere, but the actual process of developing a fully formed song takes skill, discipline, and an adherence to tried-and-true techniques. It also helps to have a musical partner along the way (think Lennon/McCartney or Rodgers and Hammerstein), which is why this piece of news is so exciting.
The Music Empowers Foundation (see Music Empowers: Grants for Music), a private foundation committed to funding organizations that offer music instruction to children in underserved communities, recently awarded a $5,000 grant to Piano Outreach of New York (PONY.) This grant will be used by PONY to fund full and partial scholarships for the organization's piano and group songwriting classes. The courses cover basic concepts such as song structure and chord progressions, while instructors help students write their own songs in a group setting. But then it gets even better. Next year the PONY students will perform the songs at their annual spring recital.
While Music Empowers is, comparatively speaking, a new kid on the block — according to its site, it launched in 2013 — it has made impressive progress in that time. Since its inception, it has provided or committed grants totaling more than $125,000 that will serve some 25,000 children across the United States. In addition to PONY, Music Empowers has partnered with some of the most exciting music education organizations in the country, including Little Kids Rock and the Quincy Jones Musiq Consortium.
This commitment comes at a time when schools across the country are being forced to cut back, if not eliminate, music education classes due to budget cuts and a greater emphasis on teaching to standardized tests. Hopefully, other music education organizations will follow Music Empowers' lead.