Ep. 90 Transcription

Disclaimer: This is transcribed using AI. Expect (funny) errors.  

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 0:00
I’m Mindy Peterson and this is enhanced life with music a holistic look at musics effect on our everyday lives. I recently came across an organization thanks to a previous guest shout out to Grand winder, an organization I hadn’t heard of and I looked up their website and the landing page really caught my attention. It was made up of these bold statements. Music Education is a right of every student. Where you live shouldn’t determine what you learn. No school is whole without the sound of students learning the greatness of their own voices. Music is primary in education and we are keeping it in schools, because hashtag music Ed matters. Wow, they pretty much had me at the landing page. This organization is called give a note foundation. My guest today is given notes CEO Beth Slusher. Beth was one of the founding board members for the organization in 2012. She has a bachelor’s degree in vocal and instrumental music performance with a minor in business. Beth is a passionate leader in advancing the cause of music education and is also an entrepreneur and the owner and CEO of Reivers Inc, in apparel manufacturer for the music performance industry. Welcome to enhance life with music Beth.

Beth Slusher 1:24
Oh, thank you, Mandy. Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 1:27
Well, that I know that given up foundation is a 501 c three that began in response to national budget cuts for the arts in public schools. It was established with an initial $1 million investment from 20th Century Fox, Glee and Ryan Murphy. Tell us more about how and why given up foundation began.

Beth Slusher 1:50
Yeah, well, that’s exactly right. We were founded with funds from 21st Century Fox or 20th Century Fox at the time. And Ryan Murphy in the television show Glee, Ryan Murphy, you know, wanted to celebrate the success of Glee. And in cooperation with 21st Century Fox, they wanted to do something that was meaningful in terms of supporting music education, because Ryan had had a background in music education, he was as a student of music when he was in school here in Indiana, actually. So we we began in cooperation with na FME, which is the National Association for music education. In our effort to support music, education, through advocacy and financial support to the music education community,

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 2:41
great, tell us some of the ways that given no advances its mission to expand and increase music education opportunities for all children, especially those in low wealth and underserved areas.

Beth Slusher 2:53
Yes, so that’s a really good question, Mandy, and I’m glad you asked, given out believes that all children should have equal opportunity to participate in music at school, and to be exposed to the educational benefits that learning music provides. And what we’ve found over the years is that focusing our support towards innovative music educators, ones who are actively engaging more students in music by offering a more diverse learning opportunities, such as audio and gaming, technology, and increasing culturally relevant music, such as mariachi, hip hop and modern band, that all of those things together with that innovative approach delivers the results we’re looking for, which is, you know, in essence getting more kids exposed to and participating in music in school. And are these are your initiatives primarily geared toward music education in

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 3:48
schools or in communities or kind of equally both?

Beth Slusher 3:52
Well, our support financial support is directly to K through 12 public school music programs. But you know, that that support filters out into the community. I’m really proud of the fact that 95% of our music educator, grantees are schools where minority students are the majority. And those teachers from our music education innovators award program are just they’re really getting kids excited about participating in the music classroom. And that filters out and helps those kids connect with their community in meaningful ways. So it’s more holistic than just funding into K to 12.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 4:35
Well, I love that I love that holistic approach. You do a lot with strategic partnerships and grassroots campaigns. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the partnerships that you have? Yeah, like,

Beth Slusher 4:48
you know, any nonprofit we rely very heavily on our partners, as well as our donors to fund our mission. We’re especially grateful to cmac They were our founding sponsor for the MBA program and have been truly an important partner to us. And they really helped us define our work in the space of supporting innovation. We’ve also had the great fortune to work with, you know, really wonderful partners. We’ve had radio, Disney big machine label group, you know, 21st Century Fox, and you know, a whole host of wonderful partners that really help us do what we need to do to support our mission. And also to keep the lights on.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 5:30
How would you most of these collaborations come about is it mostly given note sort of doing the research and reaching out to organizations or educators they feel are particularly innovative or people approaching you

Beth Slusher 5:45
a little bit of both? You know, it’s a constant. It’s a it’s a constant process of creating relationships that are meaningful with individuals and with corporations and with other foundations. It really is a strategic plan that you have to work all the time. And, you know, we’re it’s a constant discussion with others about what we do and why we do it, and finding that you’re in alignment with what they want to achieve as well. Sure, and so we work very hard to make the partnerships meaningful for the partner as well.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 6:27
Well, you have quite a wide spectrum of partnerships. I mean, you mentioned CMA foundation nafe me Glee Ryan Murphy, you’ve had the voice contestants who have been collaborators,

Beth Slusher 6:39
right wingers even Avery they they were part of our radio, Disney national tours, we did four years of bus tours across the nation in partnership with Radio Disney and Disney performing arts and, and put some of those voice contestants out in the classrooms with these kids. And that was an that was an amazing experience. It was so wonderful. The kids just loved that. Oh my god. We’ve also had new partners. I mean, when COVID hit we we had to put on temporary hold on mBiA. And we had some new partners that came to the table and helped us establish a new initiative called the Let’s Play Music fund to help get music specific protective equipment. Insert math Bell covers singers masks to teachers and students so they could return to the classroom.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 7:28
Yeah. Tell us a little bit more about some of the initiatives. You mentioned one by its acronym just a second ago? What was that? Again?

Beth Slusher 7:34
Oh, mBiA, which is our music education innovators award.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 7:38
Okay. And tell them more about that award.

Beth Slusher 7:41
Yeah, battle award has been really special to us. Again, it’s our support towards innovation and music and the creative strategies that these teachers are using to engage more kids in music education.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 7:53
Okay, so you identify Music Educators within the K through 12 setting who are doing, especially that there that are especially innovative, correct? They are?

Beth Slusher 8:03
Yep. And we, we recognize them and provide financial support to their program that they’ve developed in their curriculum. And our ongoing effort with that is that, you know, we will expand that to we’re making sure that they are curriculum programs that have been developed that have the ability to be sustainable, and replicable. You know, we we want to take these music and education innovators that we’ve identified, and help them teach other teachers how to replicate these programs and other schools.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 8:37
Ah, and I’m guessing you have a way up page on your website dedicated to this initiative, where we can see the award winners down through the last seven years.

Beth Slusher 8:45
Yep. If you go to our website, which is given out.org and then click on initiatives, and then there’s a drop down there that you can look at the different programs and initiatives that initiatives that we support. And when you click on music, education innovators, then yes, we have our whole list of educators who’ve been who’ve achieved that recognition.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 9:07
Okay, so that particular initiative you said kind of went on hold with COVID. And you went kind of launched another initiative. Tell us about that.

Beth Slusher 9:15
Yeah, so we launched the Let’s Play Music fund in August of 2020. And we had a couple of amazing partners that came together to help us with that, and that is southeastern performance apparel, who is an apparel manufacturer in Dothan Alabama, and they manufacture performance apparel for music performance groups such as choirs, bands, orchestras, and actually they are the company that acquired my company, my former company Reivers, so worked with them and then the national educational music company and EMC and those two companies are supporting the Let’s Play Music fund through their sales of protective equipment, instrument mass Belk covers, and singers masks. But then we’re also through through our other fundraising efforts for the fund as well. We’ve supplied over 13,000 pieces of PPP to students and teachers nationwide, in school districts where they just simply cannot afford they don’t have the funds to purchase the protective equipment for the kids.


Mindy Peterson, NCTM 10:24
Were there any particular initiatives or campaigns that given note has done down through the years that especially stand out in your mind as particularly impactful or memorable?

Beth Slusher 10:35
Well, they’ve all been special in their own right. I’m personally drawn to the music education innovators award, the level of commitment that these teachers have towards providing the best of the best for their students and looking for those creative ways to support their students is really, really incredible. And, you know, I have one story in particular that comes to mind, one of our innovators, and we have so many I can, I can tell you every one of their stories and you go, Ah,

I need to come up.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 11:07
But yeah, go

Beth Slusher 11:09
read through them. They’re just, they’re everything from an afro Brazilian drumming project in Detroit to a choir program in Alabama that specifically targets and supports special needs students, to the one that just I love this one so much. He was Ben Thompson, one of our grantees from Denver. He’s a physics teacher at a CTE career, technical, educational, high school. And he started an audio production and music composition class to help his students explore career pathways and music production. His school is all about career pathways. So he recognized that his love of music and his love of recording and everything, audio techno geek stuff, could really be helpful to his kids, because there was no music teacher in the school. So he developed a curriculum around it then incorporates music creation theory, sound production, and recording. And now these kids in this high school that had no music teacher, now have a music teacher, and a chance to do something really special in a new kind of music classroom. So I just love that one. Yeah, that

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 12:24
is awesome. How did you find out about that particular program? And is there kind of a common thread that you tend to hear about most of these award winners Is there a nomination process where the

Beth Slusher 12:35
so actually there’s a nomination process we send out, we do an outreach, asking for nominations. And then we, people who are nominated are asked to apply. But we also have a general open application process for the award. When we open that annually, when we open that program annually. Any teacher is eligible to apply any K through 12 public school of music teachers, it is open to apply. And there are certain criteria that they need to meet in terms of how long their program has been in place, and etc. But we have a committee that reviews all those applications that come in. And then we take it down to a finalist. And then we choose the you know, the committee chooses the final award winners

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 13:26
will give it a foundation was created to bring awareness to the importance of music education, and to strengthen music education opportunities for all students, every community. And on your website. It says because music not only offers students the chance to develop creativity and self expression, but also builds skills such as communication, collaboration and critical thinking that are necessary for success. Talk to you more about the because why is music so important?

Beth Slusher 13:58
Well, you know, music is so important, because studies support that it’s important. You know, studies show that students who learn music in school and as youngsters that increases their IQ by 20%. And there was a recent study, where the MIT researchers, they stated they noted in their study that learning music, that music perception may be more important to a child’s brain than speech perception.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 14:27

Beth Slusher 14:27
So I think it’s just, I will be happy to send it to you. I, when I read through it, I was like, This is amazing. And you know, there are other studies more recently out there about the cognitive development. And, you know, I can personally say from my own experience, that I think my ability to be successful and be a productive, socially responsible human being is due in part to the training that I had, as a child in music, what you learn and participate painting and music in the music classroom is collaboration. You learn compassion and empathy. There’s so much out there about the social emotional learning skills that are associated with learning music. So I wholeheartedly believe that every child needs to have that experience. And, you know, music is a core subject in our schools. But the perception isn’t always that it’s really a core subject is it’s really all that necessary, you know, and you don’t have to be talented in music, to participate in music,

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 15:33
and to reap its benefits

Beth Slusher 15:35
and to reap its benefits. Absolutely. Yeah.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 15:38
How involved are the initial investors still in the given foundation? So like the Glee TV show, Ryan Murphy, 20th Century Fox? Yeah,

Beth Slusher 15:47
well, Glee is is is passing over. So we’ve had some conversations about maybe trying to pull some of those cast members back in for some sort of an anniversary celebration at some point. And 20 Century Fox was bought by Disney. And so we have a very good relationship with Disney. And we continue to have the conversations about ways that we can work together. But it’s been a funny time the last 12 months.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 16:17
That’s one way to describe

Beth Slusher 16:21
that it’s just kind of changed everything. And, and we do keep in contact with Ryan Murphy through his through his management. And, you know, I have talked about many things that maybe we can do in the future, but nothing is on the table right now that we’re specifically planning.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 16:38
how can listeners get involved either as supporters as educators, collaborators, or in some other capacity? Yeah,

Beth Slusher 16:46
that’s the million dollar question. Right. You know, fundraising is the most critical and difficult part of being successful and supporting the mission? Yeah, the answer to your question just simply can’t be donate. You know, I that’s, that’s not it. It’s way more than that, you know, I think the thing that anyone can do that is, is most helpful to us, is get to know us. You know, just get to know us, visit our website and see what we do. And if it, if it moves, you then help us be the voice for music education, connect with us on social media, that really helps us expand our brand and, and when we’re expanding our brand, we’re bringing more people into the conversation. And when you bring more people into the conversation, it improves our efforts to fundraise and provide support. So

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 17:38
I’m just thinking too, about spreading the word about giving no foundation to right. You know, people in your network who are involved in school music programs, because they could be educators who aren’t aware of all that you’re doing and it’d be right helpful for them to be even just be made aware of it. Right, we

Beth Slusher 17:56
say that we’re the organization that has the passionate heart for the music educators like work. And and we’re really known for that by music educators, they they do recognize how passionate and how much we care about what they do.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 18:11
Well, that they all ask all my guests to close out our conversation with a musical ending a coda by sharing a song or story about a moment that music enhances your life. Can you close this out today with a code of ice hearing a song or story with us?

Beth Slusher 18:28
Well, I’m not gonna sing for even though. Yeah, I just, you know, music has just been such an integral part of my life. From my earliest memories. My home was, I have two sisters. And the three of us girls live in a household that was filled with music. My, our dad was a trumpet player when he was in high school and had all sorts of band awards that he was very proud of. And, and our mother never had really any formal training, but she loved music, you know, everything. Everything from classical to Broadway, she was playing record albums all the time. And as a family, we spent a lot of time around the piano, just playing and singing and harmonizing together and you know, I just my whole life was filled with music. I just, I’ve always been involved in music and so, but I think the most impactful thing the store I want to probably want to share the most is I speak a lot when I’m talking about giving out and talking with people about giving out. I speak a lot about how music education, music educators are such mentors to their students. And they are far more than just teaching music. They’re doing far more than than that. And I was fortunate enough, I had so many music mentors from my, my junior high band director to my high school choir director, my high school band directors, my college directors, I just had so many important music educators in my life, but my Junior High band director taught me probably one of the most important lessons I think I could have ever learned. I took private lessons from him on the French horn, as well as the fact that he was my, my band director, but he taught me to be grateful in terms of music, be grateful when someone appreciates your music, even when you don’t think it could or should have been played better. because music is what people feel when they hear it. And when you play something and people respond, you can’t devaluate their experience by saying it could have been better. I will never, never forget that moment when he did share that with me. So you know, music is life. It’s it just is. Yes.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 20:42
I agree. Love that. Well, you had mentioned to me to some connections over right Interlachen and Hillsdale which caught my attention since I’m from Michigan, and I was Yeah, my ears kind of perked up like oh, and relocking at Hillsdale. She spent some time in Michigan.

Beth Slusher 20:57
Yeah, I did. I went to leg junior high in Coldwater, Michigan, and earned a scholarship to interlac interlock in summer music camp. The summer after my eighth grade year. That was really my first orchestra experience. And you know, I could because I was playing French horn in the band, but I had never, none of the schools that I were was attended, had an orchestra program. So interlocken was my first orchestra experience. And it was after that, that my, my band director, again, my junior high band are recommended. That recommended me to the Hillsdale College orchestra. So as a ninth grader, I got to go over to the college. Wow, it’s a week and play with the college orchestra. So that

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 21:43
was a common was that

Beth Slusher 21:46
I, you know, I don’t think it was very common. I was the only one in the whole orchestra that was not in college students.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 21:54
Awesome. What a great Yeah, yeah.

Beth Slusher 21:58
Yeah, it was a long time ago.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 22:04
Well, thank you so much for sharing with us today, Beth, I’m really excited about what the foundation is doing and look forward to, especially looking up some of these music education innovator award recipients, because I’m really intrigued to see who they are and what they’re doing.

Beth Slusher 22:21
Yeah, they’re, they’re a great group of people. And you know, you’ll see we’ve awarded 29 educators with that distinction. And we have a database of over 300 innovative programs that we recognize around the country. So yeah, it’s pretty exciting.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 22:37
How many of these awards Do you give out per year? Because I’m just looking at your page right now. And it looks like there are more than one winners of this award per Yeah,

Beth Slusher 22:45
there. We started out small with five, the first spring that we did that. And then this past year, right before COVID hit, we announced 15 award winners. So there’s 29 of them total, that we that have earned that distinction from us so far, and they’re great, great group of people and we stay my strategic development director Juliana Lee, she and I both stay in in close contact with all of them, we engage and interact with them on a regular basis. So the support goes far beyond just getting the award and the check. Love that.

Mindy Peterson, NCTM 23:26
Well, thank you so much for all you’re doing to enhance lives with music through a given note foundation and for sharing it with us today here. Thank you so

Beth Slusher 23:34
much, Mindy. I appreciate the opportunity to be with you today.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai