In a Capitol Hill ceremony attended by musical artists and other advocates for music education, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Randall Reid-Smith, Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, were each honored by NAMM, the VH1 Save The Music Foundation and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and presented with the SupportMusic Award from NAMM for their leadership of the statewide rebuild of West Virginia music education programs. The awards were presented by NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond, VH1 Save the Music Foundation Chairman Tom Calderone and the students from the Shepherdstown (WV) Middle School jazz ensemble.
The honorees were also treated to a rare joint performance by the Shepherdstown Middle School jazz ensemble and advocate-artists Chad Smith, drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and former NY Yankee and guitarist Bernie Williams, who performed their spirited rendition of St. James Infirmary, a well-known, jazz standard.
“Not only does playing in a school band help students learn about teamwork and practice, but playing an instrument also helps them improve their academics and become better students,” said Senator Jay Rockefeller. “VH1 Save The Music Foundation understands the importance of music education in West Virginia’s schools, and I greatly appreciate its past and future efforts to bring new instruments to students and help music programs grow.”
The SupportMusic Award presentation took place during NAMM’s annual D.C. Fly-In, during which 30 NAMM members, artists and other leaders of the music products industry convened to lobby Congress on the importance of comprehensive music education in the nation’s schools. This year’s Fly-In included special events at the Kennedy Center and the U.S. Capitol, and more than 80 Capitol Hill meetings with congressional leaders.
Senator Manchin said, “It is unfortunate that, every time states face budget cuts, funding for the arts seems to be targeted. The skills our children learn from music and art classes challenge them to think creatively and express themselves. I am so thankful for the extraordinary work VH1’s Save the Music Foundation has accomplished in making sure schools in West Virginia have the resources to provide music education to our kids.”