3 Kids. Both Parents Laid Off From Their Jobs. When Bad Things Happen To Good People – REAL STORIES.

Real Story from Ovation Music Fund Scholarship RecipientIf your household income was reduced by 60%, what would you do? Could you continue to support your children’s after-school activities?  Here’s a Dad’s request for financial assistance so his daughter can continue with music lessons.

“As of February 2013, my wife and I had been at our jobs, working together, for 13 years and were living very comfortably. We had just bought a new home and our youngest daughter was born. Three weeks after her birth I was laid off from my job.

My wife had received her Master’s Degree a few months earlier and we were now repaying student loans. Then came the full time day care expense which came to the cost of a second mortgage. After the layoff, I obtained my mortgage license and have been working to build my business but this is a process that requires a great deal of time, energy and expense.

After three years I am finally beginning to gain some traction but we are trying to dig out of the financial hole that resulted from a 60% reduction in household income and a drastic increase in household expenses. Meanwhile my wife went to work for a startup at the beginning of 2015 only to be laid off at the end of the year when the company decided to go in a different direction. After only a few weeks she found a new job but at a reduced salary. I have since taken a second job waiting tables at night to help cover some of our expenses.

Our family has endured a great deal of financial strain over the last three years, but despite that we are trying desperately to maintain a level of normalcy for all three kids and that means providing our daughter with the opportunity to continue doing the thing she loves most.

(Music School) has enabled her to overcome a great deal of adversity and to find her own voice. We truly wish we could pay for her to continue to attend but we are simply not in a position to do so. That being said we appreciate any consideration you can give her as we are just not able to help her in any way financially and all payments for (music school) she will be making on her own. She is an amazing talent and has a wonderful and inspiring attitude. In August she will be attending Colorado State University and plans on taking all the experience she gains to develop a career in music therapy. Thank you for your time and consideration.”

If this happened to you, wouldn’t you want help for your kids? Do what you can to help families currently in need. Donate now. 

Music Education Levels Playing Field for Kids In Low Income Families

At 120 schools around the U.S. kids are jamming out on guitars, drums, keys and singing their hearts out. For some of these kids, just being there is a dream come true. That’s because the average family making less than $100,000 a year cannot afford music lessons for their children and some of these kids are only able to afford to participate because of the generosity of Ovation donors.

When did music become an activity only for the wealthy? When public school systems started eliminating the arts in an effort to save money. Because it takes about $4500 a year to participate in a certified music education program.

But music education doesn’t just benefit the child who is receiving it. It benefits society.

Follow this:

“It’s been known for a while that underprivileged children’s brains seem to take more time to pluck words from the sounds they hear. That may in part be because poor kids hear fewer spoken words as they grow up compared to their wealthier counterparts, Kraus said.
In fact, one study found that kids whose families were on welfare had heard 30 million fewer words by the time they were 3, compared to those with professional parents. Those from working class families fell somewhere in between.
Practically, what this means is that if you sit a poor child in a classroom next to a youngster from a more advantaged home, the poor kid’s brain will have to work longer and harder to turn the sounds she hears into words. So while the poor kid’s slower processor is trying to make sense of the sounds, the more advantaged kid’s high-speed processor helps her to grasp the words more quickly, allowing her time to mull them over and maybe even come up with questions.”  [Source: Today.com]

Students who learn to play music perform better in academics than those who don’t.

“According to the Children’s Music Workshop, the effect of music education on language development can be seen in the brain. “Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds,” the group claims.” [Source: PBS.com]

So, when we are able to extend a financial hand to low-income kids to take music lessons, it stands to reason that their academic skills will improve which will enable them to compete with students from more affluent families. When they perform better in school they are more likely to stay in school and more likely to pursue going to college.

“A sobering recent report from the National Center for Education Statistics shows just how long the odds are, even for those with college aspirations. Starting in 2002, researchers began tracking 15,000 U.S. high school sophomores from across the socioeconomic spectrum. At that time, roughly 70 percent of those 10th graders planned to go to college. That ranged from a high of 87 percent among students whose parents had the highest level of income and education to 58 percent of those whose parents were the least educated, poorest and largely unskilled. Among this latter group of students, a mere 14 percent of the total – and only one in four of those who planned to as sophomores – had earned a college degree by 2014.”  [Source: USNews ]

Without help, there’s no reason to believe that the trend of low income students earning a college degree will increase. But funding music lessons is one path to help a child out of poverty. Of course that social “payoff” requires a long view. What’s the benefit to society today to fund music education for low-income kids? Well, it might just stop them from joining gangs or doing drugs.

Funding music lessons provides an alternative to boredom and loneliness; two things that can drive kids to seek trouble.

According to the National Crime Prevention Council in their article on how to prevent low-income youth from joining gangs, we need to creation positive alternatives to gangs.

“ Keep youth in school and enrolled in positive activities when the school day ends. Help create and coordinate after school learning and recreational activities for latchkey youth, so that they do not participate in delinquency during these critical afternoon hours.”

Of course not all kids who seek mischief end up in gangs. But they do often end up turning to drugs and alcohol.

“Teenagers who are “frequently bored” increase their chances for substance abuse by 50 percent, according to a study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. Boredom was defined as “having nothing to do,” “hanging out at malls or on street corners,” or not having sufficiently stimulating leisure activities. In all these studies, boredom was associated with binge drinking, using party drugs like ecstasy, and experimenting with marijuana and prescription drugs.” [Source: CRC Health]

Replacing drugs and alcohol with music lessons will reduce substance abuse.

How can we say that with such conviction? Because we’ve seen it happen. In Iceland.

“State funding was increased for organized sport, music, art, dance and other clubs, to give kids alternative ways to feel part of a group, and to feel good, rather than through using alcohol and drugs, and kids from low-income families received help to take part. In Reykjavik, for instance, where more than a third of the country’s population lives, a Leisure Card gives families 35,000 krona (£250) per year per child to pay for recreational activities.
Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 percent in 1998 to 5 percent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 percent to 7 percent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 percent to just 3 percent.” Read the entire article here. 


To recap:
1. Low income children are at a learning disadvantage.
2. Music education improves academic abilities.
3. Kids who are bored turn to drugs, alcohol and gangs.
4. Music education reduces/eliminates boredom.
5. Music education is expensive.
6. When you donate to Ovation Music Fund, you give a low-income child a hand up.
7. Click here to donate now. 

“I humble myself, on behalf of my daughter, and ask to please consider her for a scholarship.” – REAL STORIES

Real Story from Ovation Music Fund Scholarship RecipientIf you found yourself in financial trouble, could you be humble enough to ask for help on behalf of your son or daughter? Here is one mother’s quest to give her daughter the music education she so desires. (Shared with permission from the author.)

“We are a one income family. I am a single, hardworking mother. My daughter’s dad is not involved at this point and I receive no financial support from him. I have seen the positive influence (music school) has had for the teens in our community.

I sang to my daughter before she was born and have been singing with her for the past 16 years. Her voice is beautiful and she wants to learn how to use it. I saved for months to buy her an acoustic guitar and had a friend teach her the basics and she loved it. But schedules conflicted and the lessons could not continue so she has practiced the little bit she learned and by ear has tried to learn some new songs. She is such a gifted young lady, and I believe that there is a budding musician in there. I work hard, but am still not able to make the money to afford any extracurricular activities.

I humble myself, on behalf of my daughter, and ask whoever is reading this to please consider her for a scholarship.

She has had to overcome many hardships in her young life and music has been the thing that got her through. She had an illness that brought her to The Children’s Hospital when she was younger. It was a rare pain disorder called RND, Reflex Neurovascular Dystrophy. She would experience attacks of unbearable pain that at times affected her ability to do something as simple as walking. We worked through it together. Once she was diagnosed, she underwent intense physical therapy and ended up putting it into remission. Music was her escape. It’s what got her through the grueling hours of PT and gave her hope and a goal to reach for.

She is now 16 years old and wants nothing more than to sing, write, and learn how to play her guitar more proficiently. We see the amazing concerts the students get to put on and she wants so badly to be a part of that and to make new friends who have similar interests. There are no words to express how thankful I would be to receive ANY scholarship amount. I don’t have my family around here and do not have many helping hands. I work to give her the best life possible and hopefully this letter will help me to do that for her. I thank you in advance for your consideration and appreciate the time you have taken to read our submissions.”


To donate to a music education for a child like K’s daughter, click here. 

“I know I want to play music for the rest of my life.” – Real Stories

Real Story from Ovation Music Fund Scholarship  RecipientWhen applying for a scholarship we ask students to tell us their story. We also ask if we can share their story with you because they tell their own stories so much better than we can. Here is one of those stories in our series “Real Stories.”

“Guitar has been an amazing journey for me.

I started playing in late 2013 when I was fourteen. I would always come home from school excited to play my guitar. I started taking private guitar lessons at (music school). I learned all about music theory including all seven modes of the diatonic scale and how it relates to chord scales. I loved playing but I was never able to play with a band. I tried to find other people to play with but the only other person I could play with was my friend Cole who also played guitar.

This is why I am so ecstatic about attending (music school). When I attend everyone is in a great mood and playing with a band is an amazing expansion of just playing guitar solo. Now, I am in the Foo Fighters performance group. I am playing five of the nine songs our group is playing. Our mid-season show is coming up on March sixth and I have been practicing extensively. I have also auditioned for my school’s House Band. The House Band is a group of musicians who play local shows roughly every two weeks. I am super excited to see if I get selected. I feel like my audition went really well, but I don’t get to find out if I was selected until Thursday.

When I think about the future of me and my interest in music I know I want to play music for the rest of my life. I have thought of being a producer, guitar teacher, or a band member. I want to attend McNally Smith college of musicin Saint Paul after I am done with high school. I really hope I can achieve making my passion of playing music into a career I can be successful with. I really hope to acquire this scholarship and grow my passion for music. I love going every week to jam out with other musicians and friends to evolve my experience as a guitar player. I would be very blessed to get this scholarship.”


If you want to help young musicians like N., click here to donate to Ovation Music Fund. 

7 Social and Emotional Benefits of Music Education

Study after study shows the connection between music education and academic achievement, and the benefits don’t stop there.  Music education can shape abilities and contribute to the emotional health and happiness in children.


Here are seven social and emotional benefits of music education.


A Sense of Achievement

Children feel a sense of achievement with every skill level they master on their instrument. When kids discover they are capable of accomplishing a new skill with an instrument, it gives them to confidence to tackle other areas of their lives; like a math test or an English paper.

“If you want self-esteem, then do estimable things. Accomplishments and know-how can’t be handed out or downloaded into someone’s brain like they are for the characters in The Matrix. They must be earned through individual effort. It is the endeavor that generates a sense of pride and inward esteem.”  [Source: Psychology Today ]

Make Friends

People are naturally drawn to other people with similar interests. When children make music together friendships develop. Making friends is important to the health of kids.

“For children, making friends is a vital part of growing up and an essential part of their social and emotional development. Attributes such as social competence, altruism, self-esteem and self-confidence have all been found to be positively correlated to having friends. Studies have found that friendships enable children to learn more about themselves and develop their own identity.” [Source: Life Education ]

Improve Self Confidence

There’s a difference between self confidence and self esteem, though one does influence the other. Children with high self esteem may like themselves but may not be confident in themselves beyond what they know they already know how to do. For example, a first grader may be confident in how fast she can run and that makes her feel good about herself. But when asked to join the school choir, she declines because she isn’t confident and thinks she may not be a “good enough” singer.

Said another way, self esteem reflects on what you already know about yourself. Self confidence is what you need to try something new. Not having the confidence to try new things limits children from reaching their highest potential levels of success. Self confidence improves as children overcome each challenge they face. Learning to play a musical instrument provides opportunities to overcome challenges and develop self confidence.

Cope With Anxiety

Ask adults if they are comfortable speaking in front of groups of people and most will tell you “no.” Kids feel the same when they have to give a speech in front of their class. They talk about the anxiety it causes. Ask a child who has experience performing music if talking in front of their class causes them anxiety and you’ll get the opposite response. They have experience being in front of groups of people and are confident and comfortable in that situation. Being in front of a crowd isn’t the only type of anxiety that playing music helps children cope with.

“Research shows that making music can lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate, reduce stress, and lessen anxiety and depression.” [Source: Live Science]

“Musical training linked to lower anxiety in children

Researchers, from the University of Vermont, have shown that musical training can lead to lower anxiety in children and help with emotional control, as well. Simply put, the research has shown that music can thicken the cortex, which is the decision making part of the brain.

A thicker cortex allows for greater executive function and decision making, which can help children and teens formulate better decisions based on the data available to them.

The development of the cortex happens more rapidly when children learn to play an instrument because they learn to better focus their attention, control their emotions and decrease childhood anxiety.” [Source: Viewpoint Center ]


7 benefits of music education

Reduce Stress

Stress can affect anyone who feels overwhelmed; from toddlers to seniors. We’ve long thought that listening to music can help reduce stress. Now there’s evidence that playing a musical instrument also reduces stress.

“Stress starts in the brain and then kicks off a chain reaction that switches on the stress response in every cell of our bodies. Over time, these cellular switches can get stuck in the “on” position, leading to feelings of burnout, anger, or depression as well as a host of physical ailments.

Researchers now know that playing a musical instrument can switch off the stress response, improving physical and emotional health. When our senses detect a possible threat in the environment, the body undergoes a chain reaction in which genes within each cell switch on, directing the cells to produce chemicals associated with the stress response. Playing music sets off an opposite chain reaction that switches these genes off again.” [Source: WebMD ]

Learn Teamwork

Working with others is a critical life skill that’s important to learn as a child. When parents think about teamwork, we often think “sports” but music actually requires  as great, if not greater teamwork.  If a sports team has one superstar that can mean the difference between a win and a loss. Just get the basketball to Bobby. He can hit the hoop from anywhere. But put a fabulous guitar player, killer bassist, goose-bump inducing vocalist with an off-beat drummer and the sound is painful! Music teaches teamwork every bit as much as sports.

Develop Self Discipline

Playing music with band mates is fun. However, in order to do so each musician needs to learn to play their part on their instrument outside of band rehearsal. It requires self discipline to set aside time to practice and  to practice even when you just don’t feel like doing it.  Author, entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn explained it this way, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”

“Kids who have self-discipline can cope with uncomfortable emotions in a healthy way. They’ve learned anger management skills and are able to control impulsive behavior. They can respond respectfully when adults correct them and they can take responsibility for their behavior.” [Source: Very Well]

Developing self discipline as a child serves a person well throughout life. Music education can help a child learn self discipline.

Here are Ovation Music Fund our mission is to provide low income children under 18 with music scholarships so they may attend any approved after-school music program in the US. Ovation currently works with over 120 music schools in 27 states, helping children receive a premiere music education experience. We cannot do this without the financial support of supportive and caring adults. If you’d like to donate, click here.

Congratulations to 2017 Best Communities for Music Education

The NAMM Foundation and The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas Recognize Public School Districts in 41 States for Outstanding Music Education

For 18 years The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation has honored public school districts that excel at music education. Together with University of Kansas The Foundation reviews surveys submitted by public schools and evaluates them based on their on funding, the qualifications of their music teachers, the district’s commitment to standards and, of course, access to music instruction. From there they select their honorees.

This year the awards for Best Communities for Music Education went to 527 school districts in 41 states; up from 476 school districts in 2016.  The top 5 states are New York (147), Pennsylvania (73), Texas (45), New Jersey (37) and Ohio (35).

We tip our hats to these music-focused school districts.

Unfortunately too many districts have eliminated their music education in cost-cutting measures. These school districts justify cutting music classes by claiming music is an extra-curricular activity. They couldn’t be more mistaken.

Research after research shows that children with music education perform better in all aspects of life, including core education classes like reading and math. They score higher on tests like ACT and SAT. Further evidence is the fact that a larger percent of music majors are admitted to medical school than any other undergraduate degree. In a study conducted by physician and biologist Lewis Thomas he found that 66% of music majors who applied to med school were admitted. That was 22 points higher than the next group, which was biochemistry majors.

Why the relationship between music and medicine?

Mark Jude Tramo, a neurologist, songwriter/musician, and director of The Institute for Music and Brain Science at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, feels that “there is overlap between the emotional and social aspects of relating to sick patients and communicating emotion to others through music. Some would speculate that there is [also] an overlap between aptitude for science and for music.”  Source: Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD 

A supporting organization of NAMM, the NAMM Foundation is funded by NAMM Members through trade association activities and private donations.  If you’d like to start a grass-roots effort to bring back music education, The NAMM Foundation has a fabulous tool kit to help you.  You can get your free grass roots music education advocacy tool kit here. 

Adam Mackintosh: The Art of Asking

ringoCHICAGO —  “I operate differently. I don’t think outside the box – the truth is, I don’t believe there is a box,” says Adam Mackintosh the former general manager at Chicago’s School of Rock. His methods have proved successful. During his three year tenure with the school, he raised over $30,000 for scholarships.

Adam attributes his success to his mission, rather than to himself. “My cause is unique,” he says. “I passionately feel that every child who wants to attend music school should have that opportunity. I made scholarships a priority.”

Adam took things to the street and that was how he developed a fortuitous relationship with the Merchant Giving Project. “I set up a songwriting showcase at a local bicycle shop that also doubled as a coffee shop. A very hip place. Cool people. “It caught on and the neighborhood took it on as its own.”

“People started showing up with guitars. Sometimes, they’d just perform a cappella to show off something they had just written.” The showcase started attracting regulars too. Mackintosh says of one of them, “A guy named Doug came every month. Never said a word. After the third month, he approached me. We chatted. He was very engaged in the shows. I asked him what he did and he told me he was involved with the Merchant Giving Project.”

“I found out how the organization created funding possibilities for charitable organizations by partnering with local businesses. Enrollees donated a portion of credit card processing fees to the charity of their choice,” explained Adam. “I could see right away if you were billing a lot, these donations could be substantial.”

Mackintosh also got involved with Tix4Cause.com, and had kind words for Tix4Cause president and co-founder Annette Koch. “Annette and her team were great to work with. She set our school up with our own page for ticket sales. Parents could go there to buy School of Rock show tickets for themselves and their friends, and know that they were supporting the scholarship fund. Once that was established, people started going there to get their tickets for other events – say, a Blackhawks game – and they could donate to our scholarship fund… or to whatever charity they liked.”

Adam cautioned that this method of fundraising can require a bit of patience. “You have to understand that these donations are incremental, but they do add up over time.”

Often times, the biggest help with fundraising comes through personal relationships. Adam brings up his friendship with songwriter and musician Damon Ranger of the band Blackbox. “I invited him over to the school to see the kids perform Cheap Trick’s ‘Surrender.’ He was blown away. He got the performance on his phone and sent it to Cheap Trick’s Rick Neilsen … who wrote right back to us.”

“Damon was really engaged and he had channels open to him that were very different from what we had. He found us all kinds of donors,” says Adam. It paid off. “Through those donations,” he says, “We were able to fund 14 students for a full year.”

“You have to be personally invested outside the school and be a part of the community,” Adam suggests when it comes to successful fundraising. “Share your passion,” he advises. Most of all, he says, “Ask people to help you however they can. Get them engaged and get them involved. And, remember, when it comes to the art of asking, you can ask anything!”


For more information, visit Tix4Cause at https://www.tix4cause.com and Merchant Giving Project at http://www.merchantgivingproject.org