News out of Lansing, Michigan earlier this spring points to a refreshing example of private philanthropists and nonprofit organizations providing needed music education to high school students.
Let's start with the players (pun intended). The Young Americans, a nonprofit performance and music education group, uses music as a "tool to inspire youth" around the world. The outfit performed for students, free of charge, at the Everett High School Gymnasium.
Students enjoyed the free performance thanks to the Demmer Corporation, a Lansing-based engineering and manufacturing firm, which underwrote the event along with other local businesses.
And last but not least, students enjoyed a surprise instrument donation courtesy of the Fender Music Foundation. Founded in 2005 by Larry Thomas, the CEO of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, the foundation provides support for music education programs by providing instruments for those in need and by advocating for the benefits of music education.
Given the ongoing challenges facing music education organizations, coupled with the threat of looming spending cuts to the arts, I figured now would be as good a time as any to check in on Fender's current grant initiatives and guidelines.
The foundation awards instruments only to music instruction programs that are 501(c)(3) organizations or public schools in the United States. To qualify, organizations must show that participants will be "learning how to make music." Better yet, participants can be of any age.
This means middle schoolers can play "Purple Haze" on a donated Fender Stratocaster, or seniors can learn "Moon River" on a donated piano. (Of course, there's nothing stopping seniors from learning "Purple Haze.")
A qualified program must be either an in-school music class, an after-school music program not run by the school, a community music program, a or music therapy program. The foundation will select program requests in up to eight instruments based on their responses to its Grant Candidate Form.
For more information and to access the form, click here. It's a rolling process, so there's no application deadline.