Ep. 145 Transcript

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

Mindy Peterson: [00:00:00] I’m Mindy Peterson and this is Enhance Life with Music, a holistic look at the power of music in our everyday lives. My husband and I recently celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, and around this time I ran across an organization that was also established in 1997 and celebrating its 25th anniversary. Its mission really caught my attention. Its mission is to help students, schools and communities reach their full potential through the power of making music. Totally speaking my language there. Since this organization started 25 years ago, this nonprofit has helped over 2500 schools across the country develop music programs and has donated $68 Million worth of instruments and technology to these schools, impacting millions of students lives in hundreds of communities nationwide. The organization is called Save the Music. And joining me today to tell us all about it is executive director Henry Donahue. Welcome to Enhance Life with Music, Henry.

Henry Donahue: [00:01:08] Thank you. That was a great intro. It’s actually my 27th wedding anniversary. Oh, really? But because we that the 20 actual 25th anniversary was in 2020. We actually just went to celebrate the 25th anniversary. Although this is the 27th. 27th year. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Mindy Peterson: [00:01:27] Well, you know.

Henry Donahue: [00:01:28] Hey, I can relate.

Mindy Peterson: [00:01:30] That’s what real life married life is all about is being adaptable and pivoting when you need to. Right?

Henry Donahue: [00:01:36] 100%.

Mindy Peterson: [00:01:37] So what are you doing or what did you do to celebrate?

Henry Donahue: [00:01:40] We went to Charleston, South Carolina, which is a place I love going to.

Mindy Peterson: [00:01:44] Oh, nice. Well, I have to admit.

Henry Donahue: [00:01:47] Great music town.

Mindy Peterson: [00:01:48] Yeah, it’s great. Yes, for sure. Well, we didn’t really do a whole lot on the actual anniversary, but we did buy tickets to go to Hawaii, and this feels a little bit lame. We’re taking our kids with us. But, no, we’re we’re we’re at that stage of parenting where one of our daughters is in college in Florida. We live in Minneapolis, so we never get to see her. And she’s just an amazing human being who we love to spend time with. And then our second child we have two are our son is a senior in high school. So we’re kind of like that clock is ticking on how much time we have with him. And he’s also just a blast to be around. And when our daughter was a senior in high school, we had plans, tickets, everything to take the family to Hawaii for spring break her senior year. Well, that was 2020 and the trip got canceled a week before we were going to leave. So she keeps reminding us of that this year. Our son is a senior in high school, so we’re kind of like, hey, we could get a twofer here.

Henry Donahue: [00:02:51] We could we could do the whole podcast, you know, kids. And yeah, when we had the anniversary during the pandemic in my kids are in a similar age range, people are like, well, maybe you could have a fancy dinner and they could wait on you. Somebody in my office said this and I was like, You don’t understand teenagers at all. That is not going to fly.

Mindy Peterson: [00:03:14] Especially not if you suggest it. Like if they came up with the idea, maybe like our our kids actually have done that. Maybe, maybe not as teenagers, maybe younger, but. Right. Yeah, for sure. If they’re not the ones coming up with the idea.

Henry Donahue: [00:03:27] Of dinner with us at our home and lockdown, we’re like, welcome. Yes, Welcome to the end of 25th anniversary dinner.

Mindy Peterson: [00:03:36] Wow.

Henry Donahue: [00:03:36] All right. What can I tell you about Save the Music?

Mindy Peterson: [00:03:38] Yes. So tell us in a nutshell, what is save the music and how and why was it started in 1997?

Henry Donahue: [00:03:46] The origin story. And a lot of people probably remember this is that it was started by the cable channel VH one. What had happened is the guy named John Sykes, who is one of the founders of MTV and VH one, was principal for a day at a school in Brooklyn. And at that time, music was very core and still is in a lot of ways to the identity of MTV and VH one. And John himself was a drummer and a musician and credited a lot of his success to that mindset and to that training. And he went and he was principal for a day at this high school in Brooklyn, and he saw that the music program this is a New York City public school, was in rough shape. The instruments were not in great condition. The school that once had had a robust music program didn’t have one anymore. And he resolved to start a nonprofit that would help restore public school music education programs. And then he rallied. And if you’re in a similar age range to me, you would remember Whitney Houston and Celine Dion and Aretha Franklin and Mariah Carey to start having these annual concerts, the VH one. Divas concerts that funded this fledgling initiative to help restore music education at public schools.

Mindy Peterson: [00:05:07] Yeah, those are big names.

Henry Donahue: [00:05:10] Yeah. And it’s you know, it’s funny, a lot of people still bring up the divas and the diva days, and our mission is the same now as it was when initiative was started, which is the mission and vision are every student and every school should have the opportunity to make music as part of their education. Hmm.

Mindy Peterson: [00:05:30] Well, I love how that core mission has stayed the same because it’s still relevant. And yet a lot of your approaches have changed in response to changing times and changes in the music industry. And we’re going to be talking about that. But in the meantime, tell us how it works. How does save the music work in terms of I know you invest in schools, you support teachers. Tell us how the program works.

Henry Donahue: [00:05:52] Sure. Yeah. I mean, I think the landscape out there and many of your listeners probably know this is that many public schools do have music as part of their education, depending on who you talk to. Probably 80 to 90% of schools do have music as a core offering, and most affluent parents and suburban parents expect that that’s going to be part of their children’s education and often are supplementing it with private lessons or other afterschool music things. You know, I went to public school in suburban Maryland, and I remember the day very clearly that the middle school band came to my elementary school multipurpose room, you know, the the gym atrium or whatever it was, and did a demo that you could be in band. There was a duo. They had a kid on trumpet and a kid on drums, and they did Rock Around the Clock and it blew my ten year old mind that that that was like a thing that you could do in school. And it gave me a peer group. It gave me a reason to come to school. It gave me a creative way to express myself in school. And prior to that, I had been sort of a, I don’t know, anxious, hyperactive kid. And it was a game changer for me. And my suburban school district had band choir, jazz band, musical theater, show choir, all the things. And I did almost every one of them.

Henry Donahue: [00:07:21] Landscape out there in the US right now is that the schools that don’t have music as part of their offering and it’s about 15,000 schools serving about 5 million students are concentrated in city school districts, in rural school districts, and primarily in schools that serve black, Latino, immigrant and rural student populations. So we look for communities that have either very large school districts or a collection of school districts that we can work with in a specific place. And we approach the school administrations there about bringing music back or expanding music from what they have now. And when they commit to having a certified teacher in their budget, scheduling music during the school day and dedicating a room in the school for music, We don’t do art on a cart, as they say. And when the district makes that commitment for ten years, then save the music is going to be with them in that community, to invest in every school to make sure they have the instruments they need. Increasingly, we include technology, other equipment, the books, the stands and the teacher training to get each one of their school programs off the ground. And we look for communities and partners and school districts in those communities, in places where we think we can make together with the school districts 20, 30, 50, 100 school investments in a single place.

Mindy Peterson: [00:09:00] That’s interesting. And I like the fact that you do require a certain commitment in terms of they need a higher teacher, they need to provide a dedicated space. There’s a ten year commitment that’s required once that commitment takes place and an agreement sort of entered into, I think you provide a lot of the support and materials in form of grants. Is that right?

Henry Donahue: [00:09:23] That’s right. So we have a offering of grants. And when we say grants, what that really means is that we’re going to be providing each school with the instruments, the technology, the equipment they need. So they’re not cash grants. Really, what they are are capital investments in the school to get the school over the hurdle of getting the program off the ground. But we work very closely with the school and we have a full offering of grants that range from elementary general music to middle school where. They can choose from band or strings or mariachi in some cases, or music tech to our high school programs, which are really music tech focus around beat making and production. Most high schools do have some kind of band and choir and maybe a musical theater offering. And so where we’ve seen very strong demand from the schools and the school district is in this music tech realm, so production beat, making, audio engineering, things like that. So we work with the school administration and local partners to put together a multi year plan that hopefully gets them to the point with some mix of those grants and over a number of years to 100% of students or as close as we can get. Having access to music across that community.

Mindy Peterson: [00:10:49] What are you seeing now that you’ve been at this for 25 years? What are you seeing in terms of the level of health in these new music programs? Once that ten years is up, are they pretty much up and running, very self sustaining, or are they requiring a lot of follow up and continued support from Save the Music?

Henry Donahue: [00:11:10] That’s that’s a great question. One is this is a very, very sustainable model. Just off the top. In the time I’ve been here, we have invested in over 500 new school programs. This is actually 2022 is our biggest year yet. We invested in 154 new school programs this year. And then on top of that did about another a dozen emergency grants to places like New Orleans where the hurricane last year had really impacted a number of school programs. So the basic model that the school district is stepping up with, the teacher salary and the class time and the building space, and then we’re making that one time capital investment to get each school off the ground and then sticking with the district over a number of years. That’s a very, very sustainable model. The 500 schools we’ve invested in since I’ve been here, close to 100% of them are still going.

Mindy Peterson: [00:12:06] Wonderful.

Henry Donahue: [00:12:08] Anyway. Yeah, and that’s but we do try to stick with the community in the district the whole time. We don’t. And this is, I think, maybe a shift from the early days of Save the Music. We don’t roll into town with a celebrity drop off the instruments, you know, and the.

Mindy Peterson: [00:12:22] Pictures.

Henry Donahue: [00:12:23] Right? And then wait or tiktoks or whatever and wave, wave goodbye and go on to the next town. We are very, very committed to this idea that when you invest in public school music education, so you’re trying to reach every possible young person at every school in a community that’s hopefully the foundation or the catalyst for growth across that community’s entire music ecosystem. So when students are making music in school, then more students are showing up after school for those enrichment programs. More young people are participating with other nonprofits in that community teaching artists do better, venues do better. We really see ourselves as the bottom of the pyramid, supporting growth across an entire community’s ecosystem.

Mindy Peterson: [00:13:14] So you kind of identify schools that could use your assistance. You donate grants in the form of musical instruments, technology, equipment for the schools to jump start and get those programs off the ground and running. You provide grants that allow for professional development workshops for teachers. And I thought it was interesting that when you say teachers, it’s not just those music teachers, but you include principals and superintendents, administrators in that educational support system that you provide.

Henry Donahue: [00:13:45] That’s right. And I think that’s the advocacy part of it also, where we really need, for example, a superintendent or principal in a given place to be a champion for music. We don’t want the teacher to be on an island, so we do a lot bringing teachers together in a specific community and as a cohort doing training because unlike a math, my mom was an English teacher. So I think about the high school where she taught. There was an English department, there were other English teachers. Sure, they’re there in the building. A lot of times the music teacher is a department of one.

Mindy Peterson: [00:14:24] Sure.

Henry Donahue: [00:14:25] So we see a lot of value in bringing music teachers together in a community and also making sure that the principal, the superintendent, the district level administrators who are overseeing music in the arts see us as a as a great partner.

Mindy Peterson: [00:14:43] Well, that’s really helpful for the music teachers themselves. When you’re educating and supporting the principals and superintendents administrators as well, because other unless those administrators have musical background and have that understanding of. What music brings to the table. The music teacher may find that they’re having to justify themselves and explain the value that they bring and try to convert people. And that’s just a whole nother level, you know, and to be able to take that off their plate, like you said, it really comes back to advocacy and advocacy and education are really two sides of the same coin. So educating those superintendents and administrators really is an advocacy endeavor. And that brings us to another leg of the sort of that three legged stool, if we want to look at it that way of the support that you provide is that advocacy piece you advocate on state, local and national levels for laws that ensure accessibility and equality and music education. Talk to us just real quick about the activity that you’re doing in that arena.

Henry Donahue: [00:15:53] Right. And hopefully this is all an organic part of everything we do. Like I said, we really feel strongly that we want to partner with and create and grow these projects with people in the communities that we serve. You know, every and this is, I guess, the local advocacy part of it, but pretty much every community, town, city has an existing music ecosystem. People are making music in church, you know, people are making music at home. We don’t really come to a community with a predetermined idea of what kind of music people should be making. You know, there are a lot of music nonprofits out there, and we work with a ton of them that are focused on a specific genre, so they’re advocates for strings or bringing popular music to the music classroom or jazz or what have you. We in practice do a lot of connecting and meeting with local people, administrators, music people, nonprofits, potential funders before we even propose a plan for a school music there. And I, I found that that’s been a very valuable approach because a lot of times your assumptions about what students are excited about or what the administration is focused on, or what kind of music local people are engaged with change through that, through that process.

Mindy Peterson: [00:17:23] Well, that’s just a really great way to support one of your other strong core values, which is to support culturally rich communities. And so that’s awesome that you take a look before you just dive in and say, what is the culture of this community? What music feeds into that culture, What music is valued, what music is already being practiced. I’m sure those are all questions that you’re taking a look at before you just jump in 100%.

Henry Donahue: [00:17:52] And so, for example, we have a very active project in the state of Mississippi, which started in the Mississippi Delta. And clearly it’s incredibly culturally rich, particularly in terms of music area of the US. Pretty much every type of popular music that you can think of from blues to country to gospel to R&B has its roots, you know, somehow in Mississippi and the Delta. And they’re very and rightfully proud of that cultural history and legacy. They are also very interested at the principal level of having an amazing halftime show at the football game, you know, So, you know, that’s the kind of like ground level advocacy I always tell people when the football coach is on the call, what we’re talking about, you know, we’re investing in that. That’s always a great sign that, you know, there’s like really organic local support for the for the band program.

Mindy Peterson: [00:18:53] Well, one thing I want to point out is that while your grant applications are distributed by invitation only and like you said, you identify these schools who could really use help jumpstarting their music program probably don’t already have one in place. You do also provide a lot of resources for teachers, for schools, for parents who already do have music programs in their district. You have an online resource center that anyone can explore and a really amazing filter button where people can sort of sort through this extensive list of online resources that you’ve curated. Tell us some more about the resources that you offer and who they’re for sure.

Henry Donahue: [00:19:38] And also I want to shout out, there’s a person on our team. Her name is Rebecca Huff, who’s a former music teacher who has really built out all of these all of these programs. She’s our head of teacher programs and also runs the online music resources page. And I’m sure this could be a surprise to anybody, but when. We went into March and April 2020. We really had to dramatically change our approach because students and teachers weren’t in school to make sure that we were. And you said you had our mission right off the top, which is serving students, schools and communities through the power of making music. And out of that came two things. One is the online music education resources, which which you cited. And so we moved very, very quickly to get as many mostly free resources as we could up on the site for students, for teachers, for parents at every level, for any instrument. And now two and one half years later, the resources on there are really tried and true and road tested. So the curated, searchable, frequently updated resources for teachers, students and parents that are on the site are really are really great. And you can just go to save the music dot org and click on online music education, which is at the top of the page and dive into that section.

Mindy Peterson: [00:21:07] And that has advocacy tools. There’s downloads of what articles?

Henry Donahue: [00:21:13] I think there’s live performances, there’s services you can sign up, there’s online providers of music lessons who have free and special offers for people that save. The music is a very, very rich set of resources. And I don’t know, it’s like the Consumer Reports. We don’t we don’t take any money from anybody to get their resource up on there. It’s really a reflection of what our program team thinks are our high quality resources for people, you know. And then the other thing we needed to do was expand the amount of support that we were giving for teachers, particularly in the realm of and this is sort of later in the pandemic. And as students were returning to schools, social emotional learning and trauma informed care, and working on how you can incorporate those techniques into the music classroom. So we had a large grant from a big New York based foundation to train over 1000 teachers on leveraging the power of the music classroom to address students social emotional needs as they’d been out of the building for for a year or more. And that that was an incredible, incredible program that connected us with people like Scott Eggar or Dr. Pinho or Cameron Jenkins, who are the real leaders both in music education and incorporating social emotional learning into into the music classroom. And we always tell people and principals that don’t invest or in addition to investing in like a pure SQL or, you know, I always think and you tell me, I think SQL is a bit jargony. I think it’s better to just say like life skills now. Sure. You know, it’s it’s much easier to incorporate that into your music program in a lot of ways than it is into your your math class. And so you have you have an expert in the building and a place for students to express themselves creatively already. And that’s that’s your music and arts classrooms.

Mindy Peterson: [00:23:31] Yeah, Well, I’ll definitely include some links in the show notes to some other SQL or and life skills episodes that we’ve had, because that’s a huge benefit of music. In fact, you mentioned Scott Edgar. He’s been a guest on this podcast. And when I went to your supporters page, it’s it’s just a jaw dropping list of other music and arts advocacy organizations that I recommend or recognized, like the Social Emotional Learning Organization and others. Askap, but also just household company names like AT&T and Sony Music, Sirius, Paramount, Tik-tok So it was fun to see all the different. Yeah, it’s like.

Henry Donahue: [00:24:14] Music is like the last I tell people, like one of the last, like non knock on wood, like non controversial issues out there. So we try to cast a wide net. And then for teachers, maybe we can also send you for the show notes a list of the 12 or so communities nationally that we’re investing most of our resources in because almost every week we’re doing something in one of those places. I just typed a few in here as I was getting ready to talk to you. We’re sending a number of teachers from West Virginia to attend the Midwest clinic. We just did an El Sistema partnership in Santa Cruz. We all the time because our elementary general music program is very. Course, based in some ways we provide scholarships for teachers to go get their Orff level classes. We did a music tech intensive with Wayne State in Detroit last summer where we tried to round up every music tech or music tech interested teacher in Detroit Metro that we could find. And so if we are in your community as a teacher, it’s very likely that we are trying to get teachers together and provide some value on the professional development and or just, you know, gathering side.

Mindy Peterson: [00:25:34] Hmm. Well, I love to see that collaboration. I’m a big believer that there’s strength in our unity and we can be united without needing uniformity, like we can have differences in application and perspective and still come together in a common cause. So I love that you’re so active in collaborating with so many different organizations. One thing I want to point out to listeners in terms of your funding is 76% of your spending goes to support music programs. 18% of the budget goes to fundraising costs, primarily development staff compensation and events. And just 6% goes to cover administrative costs, such as legal and accounting. So I thought that was pretty, pretty impressive. You guys run a tight ship over there.

Henry Donahue: [00:26:20] Thanks. Thanks. We try. We try.

Mindy Peterson: [00:26:22] Well, I want to make sure that we leave time for you to tell us about what’s next for Save the Music, because I know you went through a big rebranding recently. You’re all geared up for the next 25 years and and really have some exciting things that you’re looking to be doing in this next phase. So talk to us about what’s next in this next phase for Save the Music.

Henry Donahue: [00:26:45] Sure. Top level, we think that we can get to the point in our collective lifetimes here where every student and every school is making music as part of their education. You know, 5 million students, 15,000 schools. If we can continue to scale this community driven model, that’s, I think, in our in our sights. I’ll just give you one small example. Newark, New Jersey, which is one of our partnerships. We’ve invested in 50 schools just in the city of Newark, and that project was a partnership with three large foundations the mayor’s office, the school board, a consortium of local nonprofits. Queen Latifah, Wyclef Jean were involved, and in that time we were able to take the percentage of Newark students with access to music from 53% when we started to 98%. And we’ve seen increases in attendance across those schools. Test scores have improved, Teacher satisfaction is higher, student well-being has grown. And so we really do think that if we get to the point where we have 25 or 30 or 50 projects like that, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility, that we can get to the point where pretty much every student and every school has music as part of their their education, you know, and then looking to the future where we see growth in demand for music education and really incredible growth, that student participation in music is in music tech. So we have a thing called the J Dilla music tech program for the hip hop fans who listen to this podcast.

Henry Donahue: [00:28:28] J Dilla is really he’s like the Coltrane of of hip hop it incredible producer who passed away in 2006. We’re about to pass 50 schools in our J Dilla program, which supports production, songwriting, beat making, deejaying and sound engineering. And that program has been growing just year over year at an incredible rate. And then when you think about participation, not just access, because we’ve traditionally been on the access side, but we also want to make sure that participation in music is growing, adding music tech and hip hop and popular music to these high school programs increases the number of students participating like Beyond what We Could Have Expected. We have a high school at one of those Newark schools where they have 1600 kids at the high school or students at the high school, and last year, 100 of them expressed interest in music. And so you’re pulling in the students who have been making music and have been on that music track and are now want to apply that to recording their own music. So and writing production. But it also pulls in a whole other population of students who maybe weren’t on that track or got off that track somewhere in middle school. So we’re we’re strong believers in in the music tech part of it. We’ve got great partnerships with people like Apple and Ableton and Sure Microphone. Drones and Moog synthesizers. And we see that as a real driver of growth in the program.

Mindy Peterson: [00:30:04] Well, the thing I love hearing about those types of programs in schools is it does cast a wider net to engage those students who may not be a really great fit for a traditional band orchestra choir program at a school. So you’re pulling those kids in and it can be a really great way to to implement STEM or Steam concepts without 100%.

Henry Donahue: [00:30:29] Yeah, I mean, this is what so I’ll say two things about it. One is when I started seven years ago, I can’t say that we saw a lot of demand from educators for the music tech or the hip hop or the pop music part of it.

Mindy Peterson: [00:30:41] So not necessarily from students, but from the educators.

Henry Donahue: [00:30:43] Right? Right. I think there was some resistance from educators traditionally, you know, in your more traditional music education fronts to open the door to something like that. And that’s we see in 180 degree change in that. We I think that the demand from the students has been such that the educators have really seen the value, the value in it and growing their program. And then to your point, it’s not easy to when you learn a digital audio workstation and maybe you start out in garage band and then you go to Logic or Pro Tools or or FL Studio. There is a significant STEM portion in addition to the music portion. So you have to learn how to use a pretty complicated piece of software. There’s some physics and then on top of that, back to the music part, like you need to acquire some keyboard skills. We see, like I said, 180 degree change and people’s approach to it.

Mindy Peterson: [00:31:42] Well, one thing that’s exciting about Save the Music’s next phase here is you really are focused on career pathways and turning music education into music careers. And it’s it’s neat to see how you’re doing that, not just with the traditional music education programs, but also with, like you mentioned, hip hop and music production, music tech, audio production, beat making. I think you do a fair amount with composing too, so it sounds like those are all big pieces of what the next phase will be for Save the Music. Is that accurate?

Henry Donahue: [00:32:17] That’s right. I think that part of it is just the natural progression, which is we have thousands now of high school students out there who are taking these J Dilla music tech program classes and that’s their interest. We’ve been doing a series of partnerships with record labels and other music industry partners to bring our students together with people who are marketers, managers, lawyers, producers, MCS, mixers, engineers, festival promoters because there are many, many other ways. If you’re passionate about music and can connect music to your education and your career, to make a living in music, and a lot of times those are more sustainable maybe than being a performer or an artist. And also we’re seeing a lot of demand on the other side. And so I should mention you mentioned a little bit about the financials. We raised most of our funds from individual donations, foundations that are based in the communities we serve and then music industry partnerships. So the record labels, the streaming services, Sirius XM Partners like that. And on the music industry side, they have a real mandate or initiative or priority right now to bring more diverse set of young people into the those jobs in the industry. You know, because most of the music is made by people in communities of color and the rest of the industries should reflect that diversity. I think so. Sure. Yeah. I think there are a lot of things going the right direction to make that a really exciting part of We do So when students graduate from high school, graduate from these programs, there’s either a college pathway or a career pathway for them to continue in music.

Mindy Peterson: [00:34:13] Yeah, fantastic. Well, we’ll include lots of links in the show notes, of course. Tell us again, just verbally your website.

Henry Donahue: [00:34:20] Oh, right. And I also be we’d be remiss or my development person would come track me down if I didn’t mention it. People can donate again. We rely on individual donations. We don’t get our funding anymore from from VH one for the most part.

Mindy Peterson: [00:34:35] Okay.

Henry Donahue: [00:34:36] So yeah, VH one only provides about 5% of our budget. We rely we rely on private donations for the other 90 95% of our budget. So yeah. So go to save the music dot org. Sign up for the email newsletter, follow us on all the we’re all the channels, all the things, all the Tiktoks and Instagrams and Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn. So we’re easy to find and all those places.

Mindy Peterson: [00:35:00] Yep. I’m sure there’s a donate button on there. And I know there’s also a great link for advocacy tools for people who are interested in digging in. More to that, there’s a great FAQ page for people who want more specifics on if their school qualifies for working with you through grants and just how that process works. You mentioned the email list, so lots of resources on the website and we’ll have all the. Yeah.

Henry Donahue: [00:35:26] And I and I just want, I want to leave people with this idea that even if you don’t get involved with us, our goal is every student, every school should be making music and it takes the whole music, community and ecosystem to to make that happen. I always say that Save the Music actually is not a great name for the organization because music doesn’t need saving. Everybody loves music, you know? So we talk a lot about how music saves, right? So instead of saving the music, we talk about music saves. So even if you’re not inclined to donate to save the music, what I can say is if you’re a listener of this podcast, there are so many ways that you can be a champion for music in your own community, you know, at your your school, at your kid’s school, by getting involved with a local nonprofit, by supporting local artists or venues. You know, there’s so much going on in the world that is rightfully urgent, you know, and sort of takes up people’s time and and attention and energy. We really need people who understand the power and the benefit of music education and have that emotional connection to it to help get this done. Because the idea is that the last thing we say is we’re not in the business of creating great musicians. If that’s a byproduct, like that’s that’s amazing. Our goal is to help young people grow into successful grown people who can navigate the world.

Mindy Peterson: [00:36:56] One thing I was thinking of as you’re talking there, and this is beyond the scope of our conversation today, so I won’t spend too much time on it. But when you’re talking about music saves, I was just thinking it would be so interesting to have research done and maybe you’re already doing this on student outcomes before and after that music program is jumpstarted started in some of these schools because music does improve outcomes for the students, for teachers, for schools, for communities, whether it’s student attendance, graduation rates, participation rates, math and reading scores. So many of those check the box type things that administrators are looking at that are made better and improved by music participation and music training. So it would be really interesting to.

Henry Donahue: [00:37:45] Yeah.

Mindy Peterson: [00:37:45] For some before and after we.

Henry Donahue: [00:37:47] Do what we’re doing, we’re doing it a bunch. We have a so the Newark case study is, is on the site and we also have a case study in the state of West Virginia where we’ve invested in over 100 middle school programs in West Virginia alone. You’re right. This is a subject for a whole other podcast, which is right, which is is music education valuable just for its own sake, which I think is my opinion. And I’m guessing most podcast listeners hear opinion just like art and music and beauty or the right of every person like in our world. And you know, that said, there are definitely plenty of people out there, many of whom are school administrators who want to see the follow on impact and results in and in academics and attendance and parent engagement and graduation rates and students who go on to college and all that data is definitely out there. And we’re making more all the time, for sure. Good.

Mindy Peterson: [00:38:45] Well, Henry, this has been really fun to hear about. Save the Music, What you guys are up to, What’s next? I 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 enhanced your life. Is there a song or a story that you can share with us today?

Henry Donahue: [00:39:03] I’m happy to. So when I say music saved my life, really, the thing that saved my life was punk rock. So I grew up in the Washington, D.C. area in the 1980s when D.C. was the center of the punk rock world. So I spent a lot of time going to see bands in and around that scene, particularly bands like Fugazi, and they had their own record label, which was Dischord Records and Fugazi. And the Dischord bands really espouse this idea that, one, you could do it yourself, like you didn’t need to get signed to a big record label to make music or play shows or put out records or tours, and Ian MacKaye and the band Fugazi, also, along with the other Dischord bands, were very connected. To the social impact and the message of what they did. And it still rocked it like wasn’t preached. It wasn’t like preachy or boring. I mean, if you go on YouTube and just see those old Fugazi videos, I mean, it is the rottenest thing that you’ll ever see. What it led me to do was I was very inspired to start my own band and put out my own records and I did all those things and we just remastered the Nineties album and put it out on Spotify and Tik-tok and Bandcamp and all the places. So the band was called Spunk Davis. If you’re at all interested, we’ll.

Mindy Peterson: [00:40:39] Include a link in the show.

Henry Donahue: [00:40:40] Yeah, please. Please. We need playlist it, favorite it, we need the streams. Yeah, but yeah, but, but really, if there are people out there who don’t know Fugazi or Dischord or that D.C. scene, it’s well worth checking out. Change my life.

Transcribed by Sonix.ai