MI Industry Charitable And Philanthropic Efforts Abound
By Dan Ferrisi
Everybody loves a feel-good story: an account of a person who (or a company that), in the spirit of charity, philanthropy and brotherhood, goes beyond the boundaries set by expectations in order to serve people and communities who are in need of assistance. The music products industry, this writer would argue, evinces a uniquely strong sense of community and connectedness, perhaps owing to the camaraderie involved in making music and the fact that so much joy and excitement typically result from indulging one’s musical passions. It is natural, then, to expect that a story like “The Good Stuff”—our annual look at MI industry philanthropic activity—would spur multitudinous submittals from among our industry’s manufacturers; this was, indeed, the case once again this year.
Our community has done so much good work over the past 12 months, in fact, that we simply were not able to pack everyone’s efforts into a single article. So, this month, we feature only the first half of “The Good Stuff,” with several additional wonderful stories on deck for our upcoming June issue.
One hopes—and, I think, can expect—that future months will continue the heartwarming trend of members of our industry doing well while doing good.
Korg USA was involved in so many charitable endeavors in the past year that we literally cannot include them all. Korg USA worked in conjunction with Guitar Player magazine to design a one-of-a-kind VOX electric guitar with an AmberBurst finish that was donated to MusiCares. While on display backstage at the 2012 Grammy Awards in the MusiCares area, the guitar was autographed by a wide array of entertainers. It was then included in the MusiCares eBay auction that followed. MusiCares is a Grammy charity organization that provides financial, medical and personal resources for members of the music community in need.
This past fall, Korg USA collaborated with American award-winning high fashion menswear designer John Varvatos, who used VOX Amplification as the inspiration for a T-shirt in the Varvatos Fall 2011 collection (the shirt featured a classic VOX logo on it). VOX donated its royalty proceeds from the sale of the shirt to the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, in support of its charitable mission to restore instrumental music education programs.
Korg USA recently partnered with two high profile youth music programs, School of Rock (SoR) and Camp Jam, for kids and young adults. Camp Jam is a rock ‘n’ roll music program for children and adults. Korg USA was a gear sponsor for the program’s songwriting contest. Artists/teachers instructed students at Camp Jam 2011 using VOX and Blackstar amplifiers, Korg digital pianos and VOX guitars supplied by Korg USA. Additionally, Korg USA outfitted School of Rock’s 70 locations with an assortment of gear. Korg and VOX were also sponsors of The AllStars Program, hosted by SoR. Products outfitted to the prestigious AllStars included Korg synthesizers, Korg music workstations and VOX combo amplifiers. The program consisted of an elite group of high-level achievers enrolled in School of Rock nationwide. AllStar students experienced playing in famous rock venues, touring and jamming with famous rock stars. The Korg and VOX gear was placed in SoR locations after AllStars touring season ended.
Last year, Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. Professional Sound and Visual Division launched the Pioneer DJ Art Mix Tour, a unique fundraising program that brought together many of the world’s best DJs, urban artists and designers to create original works of art using Pioneer’s CDJ-2000 digital media player. The celebrity-designed art pieces were exhibited in key markets across the country over the summer, culminating in an online auction to benefit the VH1 Save The Music Foundation to restore music education programs in public schools. Each participant in the Pioneer DJ Art Mix Tour received one CDJ-2000 to serve as a blank canvas on which to paint, design or otherwise decorate as customized works of art. Pioneer unveiled the completed art pieces last June at a hosted gallery showing in New York and Los Angeles and, from there, the collection traveled to several locations in top markets across the country. In August, following the final showing, the pieces from the Art Mix Tour were put into a public online auction, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the VH1 Save The Music Foundation.
Service to the community is a pillar upon which KMCMusicorp was founded and, with the continuing support of its employees, KMCMusicorp has contributed to some deserving charities in the past year. 2011 marked the 24th annual KMCMusicorp Charity Golf Tournament, which has raised more than $200,000 since its inception for multiple charities, including Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Players representing all facets of the music industry joined KMCMusicorp for the company’s 24th annual tournament, and the evening concluded with a banquet and auction featuring a Hamer USA Talladega guitar. The Hole in the Wall Gang’s Michael Hund, Development Associate of Major Gifts and Annual Giving, was on hand to congratulate KMCMusicorp for surpassing $100,000 worth of contributions to the organization over the past 23 tournaments. In addition to extending warm thanks to event founders Bill Kaman and Everett Porter, the organization also recognized current President Ed Miller; retired KMC President Bob Saunders; and the many volunteers and vendors who contributed to reaching the milestone for KMCMusicorp.
KMCMusicorp employees sponsored the third annual “Passion & Learning for Aspiring Youth” Instrument Essay Contest. The PLAY Instrument Essay Contest focuses on music education in schools by offering students in middle school a chance to obtain and learn a musical instrument of their choice. Seven PLAY winners were presented with an instrument of their choosing during the 2011 award ceremony on September 19, and proud family members, school faculty, band directors and KMCMusicorp employees attended the ceremony to help celebrate the winning students who were selected from nearly 150 of their peers.
The PLAY contest, founded by KMCMusicorp employees Paula McHoney and Sharon Crocker, was developed to foster the gift of music in young students. The program has seen significant growth and participation each year, and has given many students who cannot afford to purchase or rent an instrument the opportunity to own a brand new instrument of their choice.
Since 2003, Yamaha Corp. of America has nurtured its company culture and encouraged service through a variety of initiatives sponsored through Yamaha Cares, an employee-based initiative dedicated to charitable works to promote education, arts, health and human services, and community development in the areas where its employees live and work, as well as to spread the gift of music to people throughout the U.S. Yamaha Cares is active in fundraising efforts for many Southern California programs, including the Special Olympics, The Children’s Hospital of Orange County, college music scholarships, The Boys and Girls Club, The Susan G. Komen Foundation, American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, Make a Wish Foundation, Families of Camp Pendleton, Orange County Food Bank and Toys For Tots.
Beyond the myriad of financial donations made by the program, Yamaha employees have banded together to take part in a variety of fundraising activities, including sponsored walks to support breast cancer research and events to support juvenile diabetes research.
Yamaha partnered with Music to Heal, an Orange County-based music therapy program that brings the sound of music to patients’ bedsides—whether listening, playing or learning. The organization has more than 50 volunteers, many of them UC Irvine medical students, who perform and teach everything from classical to rap to patients of all ages. They even loan out instruments and MP3 players with vouchers for downloading favorite songs.
Although the physical and emotional benefits of music therapy are well documented, the program faced a challenge: how to “let the music play” in hospitals without disturbing other patients, some of whom require quiet rest. Fortunately, Yamaha Cares was able to help meet this challenge on two fronts: by donating a selection of instruments, including guitars and keyboards, to the program, but also by including a selection of “silent instruments” that can only be heard through headphones. Yamaha also included instruments that could be operated by burn patients via hands, feet, elbows, fingers or toes, according to their specific injury.
Takamine introduced the Tsunami Relief Guitar (TR340S) in an effort to lend support to Japan through the spirit of music. 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of this guitar went directly toward the recovery and relief effort taking place in the wake of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan. The limited-edition acoustic dreadnought guitar has a spruce top and mahogany back and sides, with the Japanese flag on the 12th fret of the fretboard and a poignant phrase, “Play for You, Pray for All,” inscribed on the inlay. All proceeds from the sale of the TR340S were donated to the Earthquake Reconstruction and Support Activities Fund, where it, in turn, was applied to the “School Music Revival” program, which aids in the replacement of musical instruments and restoration of grammar school music education.
Last summer, 650 music fans packed Santa Barbara CA’s historic Lobero Theater for Seymour Duncan’s first annual benefit concert, headlined by the Steve Miller Band. The event, which coincided with the company’s 35th anniversary, raised more than $50,000 for Notes For Notes, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing kids with free access to musical instruments and instruction. “I feel it’s our role as a successful business to support our community,” said company Co-Founder Cathy Carter Duncan. “That’s why we initiated what will be an annual benefit concert. We are thrilled to be able to support Notes For Notes. Providing kids the opportunity to make the music of their choice, and to have a safe, nurturing place to do so, is a gift to our community. Imagine any child being able to make music for the sheer love of it! That’s in total alignment to our core mission: helping musicians by providing tools that inspire them to make great music.” Steve Miller is a longtime Seymour Duncan Custom Shop customer.
The Avedis Zildjian Company also does more good charitable work than we even have room to cover. It continues to strengthen its commitment to music education through its relationship with the Music & Youth Initiative, a comprehensive after-school music education program for underserved Massachusetts youth, ages eight to 18. Partnering with the Berklee College of Music, the Music & Youth Initiative uses music as a vehicle to improve academic, social and vocational skills while building self-confidence and self-esteem. Each week, more than 1,500 young people visit Music Clubhouses and receive music education from professional artists and music educators. Zildjian supplies all the cymbals for the Music Clubhouse program. And, the Zildjian Company’s involvement with children’s music programs reaches beyond Massachusetts. Recently, Zildjian donated stadium cymbals to the Boys and Girls Club Marching Band in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
The Kerope Zildjian Scholarship Competition, now in its 8th year, was established to pay tribute to Kerope Zildjian and encourage and reward percussionists in their pursuit of performing excellence. Kerope Zildjian presided over one of the most storied periods in Zildjian history (1895-1909) and developed the K Cymbal. The winner of the competition receives a $5,000 scholarship, a selection of cymbals and an all-expense-paid trip to Zildjian headquarters to meet the Zildjian family, tour the factory and choose cymbals. The application deadline for the Kerope Scholarship Competition is June 1. And, Zildjian awards scholarships through the Avedis Zildjian Scholarship Fund, a comprehensive scholarship program dedicated to the memory of CEO Craigie Zildjian’s grandfather.
D’Addario & Company
“Philanthropy has always been important in my life,” remarked Rick Drumm, President of D’Addario & Company and an excellent musician in his own right. “I’ve been involved in charities like Doctors Without Borders and ChildFund (formerly The Christian Children’s Fund). When I joined D’Addario, I was honored to know that the organization had its own chartable wing: The D’Addario Music Foundation. The D’Addario Foundation donates more than $300,000 each year to more than 100 music instruction organizations. I’ve been fortunate to have visited our Foundation’s giving in action, most notably at a Little Kids Rock (www.littlekidsrock.org) classroom, where I played along with 30 of the 60,000 kids who receive guitar and drum instruction in LKR districts across the country.”
He added, “Currently, I am donating 25 percent of sales for my new CD, ‘Return from the Unknown,’ to Strike a Chord for Children USA…. My CD was inspired during my cancer treatment and recorded afterward. Music helped me to get through that time, and I wanted to help bring its healing force to these children.” David Via, who is Vice President at D’Addario, serves as President of Strike a Chord for Children USA. It is a registered, tax-deductible 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides the gift of music to seriously ill and disadvantaged children by providing free musical instruments, as well as up to one year of free musical instruction.
Founded in Australia, Strike a Chord for Children founded a U.S. chapter and has already met the needs of several deserving children and their families. An electric guitar and one year of free lessons was provided for a 10-year-old boy battling leukemia. An acoustic guitar and a collection of instructional DVDs was provided to a nine-year-old battling sickle cell who was too ill to take lessons at a music store. Another child, four years old, born legally blind with significant development delay and battling cerebral palsy, was given a percussion set-up complete with bongos, jam blocks, tambourine and cow bells. His physical therapist had reported that the boy responded best to the sounds of percussion. To learn more, visit www.strikeachordforchildren.org.
Kala Brand Music Co. donated Kala U-BASS models and ukuleles to T’s For Troops, an organization that provides musical instruments and lessons to severely injured returning troops. “We were contacted by the organization about the U-BASS, because there are many of the troops who want to play bass, but most patients are dealing with injuries where weight and reach is a challenge,” according to Rick Carlson, Kala Director of Sales and Marketing. “Because the U-BASS is lightweight and is a short scale, players with disabilities find it easy to play without sacrificing any bottom end.” Kala also provided ukuleles to the organization, which is dedicated to providing Music Therapy as an important part of the healing process for these returning warriors. “We are very moved and humbled by the courage of these returning heroes. To know the importance that music plays in their recovery illustrates recreational music making in its highest form,” Carlson added. Music is playing an important role in both the mental and physical therapeutic process at the hospital. The patients pick the instrument of their choice and then are taught to play and form bands.
In November 2010, some old friends of Focusrite stopped by the 129th AES Convention in San Francisco to create a piece of history: signing the last ever Focusrite Red 1. Since then, the Red 1 toured around the world, collecting signatures from a host of award-winning producers and engineers, including George Martin, Dave Way and Doc Wiley, at AES New York, the MPG awards in London and, of course, AES San Francisco. The unit was then auctioned off for charity. The Focusrite Red Series was for many years the flagship of Focusrite’s product line-up. Now discontinued, and extremely rare on the second-hand market, these units still change hands for thousands of dollars.
100 percent of the proceeds of this auction have gone to the MusiCares charity, which was set up by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 1989. MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for musicians, and others involved in music, during times of need. MusiCares strives to offer services and resources to cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies.
Fender Musical Instruments Corp. (FMIC), along with The Fender Music Foundation, donated nearly $50,000 in grants and musical instruments to disadvantaged schools and youth organizations in 2011. Since its inception in 2005, The Fender Music Foundation has raised more than $400,000 to help schools enhance their music programs. In addition, FMIC provided nearly $20,000 in grants and equipment to the Fender Center in Corona CA, a museum and performing arts center that offers professional-caliber music education to children at a low cost or no cost at all. Through its Kids Rock Free program, the Fender Center has helped expose more than 10,000 Southern California children to the joys of music since 1998.
Following the devastation caused by last year’s tornadoes in Joplin MO, Asterope President Dariush Rad felt called to act. “The media coverage showed worse and worse devastation, and I kept feeling an increasing calling to help,” he said. “So, I loaded my truck with clothes, water, food, tools and my two dogs, and started driving.” When he arrived 12 hours later, he was awestruck by what he saw. “When I got there and drove into the area, I saw the most awesome and horrendous thing I had ever witnessed in my life. It looked like someone went through a beautiful mid-American community for the width of a mile and more than six miles long with a weed eater and turned everything into pulp. Trees were snapped in half and stripped of bark, and houses were torn down to their foundations as far as you could see. It went on and on and on. It looked like a nuclear bomb went off. It was just miles and miles of pulp.”
Rad spent four nights in Joplin, working with families to help clear rubble from homesites, help the victims sift through the remains of their personal property to see what could be salvaged, distribute food and water, and help in whatever ways he could. More than half the people he met there were strangers to the community, individuals who had just come to help. To see such kindness and grace, and Americans helping each other—not waiting for someone else to do it—had a profound impact on him.
“I realized that we are the government…it’s us,” he said. “We help each other. We depend on each other. My going and my giving was my blessing. I’m more grateful for the life I have today because of that experience. I’m more grateful for the health of my family. I have a greater sense of what it means to be human, what it means to be Christ-like and what it means to be an American.”
Gruv Gear, California-based designer and manufacturer of utility carts and consumer hand trucks, has donated more than 70 dollies to non-profit foundations to directly benefit their operations in helping their local communities. The following five organizations are now enjoying the free dolly carts from Gruv Gear.
Food Finders is a multiregional food bank and food rescue program. It picks up donated food from hundreds of local grocery stores, bakeries, restaurants and produce markets and distributes it directly to missions, shelters and domestic agencies to feed the needy and impoverished.
The Mental Health Association of Orange County was founded in 1958 as a grassroots effort to provide resources and referrals for persons impacted by mental illness. MHA has grown considerably over the past 53 years, with some 16,000 persons served last year.
The Long Beach Rescue Mission, since 1972, has opened its doors to thousands of men, women and children. The mission provides food, clothing, shelter and spiritual guidance to the homeless and less fortunate people of the community. The Long Beach Rescue Mission is dedicated to helping individuals overcome the homeless cycle.
Long Beach Organic, Inc., is a 501(c)3 non-profit that has been in existence for 17 years. It has seven gardens in Long Beach, with two more that are being developed at this time. It has more than 200 members who “rent” (per a lease) a 10’x10’ plot to grow edibles and/or flowers, succulents, etc.
The Quietly Working Foundation for The Children of Fallen Soldiers is a non-political, non-denominational, non-profit organization focused on meeting the needs of children who have lost a parent serving in the United States Armed Forces. The driving motivation behind every effort the Quietly Working Foundation undertakes is that it wants each of these children to know that the citizens of the United States of America recognize their loss, and are committed to helping them achieve their highest potential.
In 2011, nearly half of Joplin MO was flattened during the most severe tornado season in more than 50 years in the U.S. Orange Amplification invited manufacturers and distributors within the music industry to donate equipment for “The Music Aid For Joplin” auction, which raised $10,000. The auction saw Orange Amps lead the music industry in pulling together a list of special musical instruments and memorabilia, which raised $10,000 to help Dave Peterson, Owner of Glory Days Music Store, Joplin, which was completely destroyed in the EF5 tornado. Peterson lost his home and his business of 15 years; he and his family left the disaster scene with only the clothes on their backs. When Greg Haws, Orange Amplification’s Midwest Sales Representative, presented Peterson and his brother, Ben, with the monies raised, they were overwhelmed by people’s generosity. Peterson said, “Orange Amplification and the others went beyond their normal daily duties and gave my family huge hope. God bless all in the music industry who have contributed.”
Others in the music industry who contributed to the auction were Intel, Yamaha, Jim Dunlop, Aria, Guitar World magazine, Taylor Guitars, Sabian Cymbals, Seymour Duncan and Orange’s endorsed artists Geddy Lee (Rush), Mastodon, Theory of a Deadman and more.
RS Berkeley Musical Instruments donated all the brand-new, acoustic instruments needed to completely outfit a student orchestra at the Amadeo Roldán Academy of Music in Havana, Cuba’s premier academy of music. The New Jersey company contributed 28 brass, woodwind, stringed and percussion instruments—saxes, trumpets, trombones, violins, basses and even a tuba—to the New York organization Horns to Havana, which transported them to Cuba early last September. In addition, the company has agreed to let Horns to Havana purchase a second orchestra for Conservatorio Guillermo Tomás at Guanabacoa at cost, as well as to provide parts and supplies like pads, reeds, mutes, valve oil and instrument stands. Horns to Havana is an all-volunteer organization that was formed after Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra took Jazz to Havana in fall 2010. An effort to bring musical instruments to four music schools in Cuba, Horns to Havana is an attempt to bridge cultural differences by acknowledging the mutual roots of both American jazz and Afro-Cuban music and to strengthen historic ties.
Electro-Harmonix and its members and affiliates New Sensor, NY; Sovtek, St. Petersburg, Russia; and ExpoPUL, Saratov, Russia contributed $3,000—$1,000 each—to the following organizations that have supported Japanese tsunami relief: Red Cross Japan Relief Fund, Salvation Army Japan Relief Fund and UNICEF Japan Relief Fund for Children. Electro-Harmonix Founder and President Mike Matthews was quoted as having stated, “All of us at Electro-Harmonix and our affiliates are deeply saddened by the disaster that struck Japan. We hope our contributions can help touch the lives of those suffering in some positive way.”
Ryan Seacrest—the host of “American Idol,” radio personality and TV producer—established the Ryan Seacrest Foundation (RSF) to enhance seriously ill and injured children’s quality of life. In the case of RSF, the vehicle is a series of broadcast media centers, called THE VOICE, that the foundation is building within pediatric hospitals to enable young patients to explore the creative realms of radio, television and new media. The first RSF media center opened last year at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, with another having opened around the same time at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Each location is designed and equipped as a fully functional radio and TV broadcast studio, giving child patients the opportunity to actively participate in the hosting and production of live shows that will be seen and heard on closed circuit throughout the hospital. Children in their hospital rooms are also able to participate by calling in requests and taking part in call-in programs.
Seacrest’s broadcast engineer Brian Clark works with RSF on THE VOICE project. He remarked that the facilities “wouldn’t have been possible” without the support of a variety of manufacturers, including Electro-Voice’s contribution of RE family broadcast microphones. Seacrest himself has been using the RE27N/D broadcast microphone exclusively since 1995 for all his radio appearances.