How the Save The Music Foundation is Pioneering Electronic Music in Schools | Reverb Gives

Reverb Gives provides students, teachers, and leaders of music programs with the instruments that they need, directly from the Reverb marketplace. Since its launch, Reverb Gives has had the opportunity to help support a variety of remarkable organizations committed to making the world a more musical place. With so many unique missions, all revolving around music and music education, we wanted to take the opportunity to spotlight some of these organizations, detailing their cause and highlighting the great work that they’re doing with music.

Today, we’re featuring the Save The Music Foundation, which was founded in 1997 to help kids, schools, and communities realize their full potential through the power of making music. We're specifically focusing on their most recent project: a grant program that provides high schools with recording and electronic music equipment.

Program coordinator Christian Perry and his team realized that there were underserved groups of students who were interested in playing music in school but weren’t attracted to band and orchestra programs. Instead, these students were interested in the convenience of bedroom studios and beat-making. “We needed to find a way to fulfill the needs of those students' interests. This is what students are interested in, and we found that many of the students who got involved were first-time music creators,” says Perry.

With the help of Doctor Evan Tobias, Associate Professor of Music Education and Director of the Consortium for Innovation and Transformation in Music Education at Arizona State University, the foundation was able to draft the comprehensive “Music Tech Grant,” which identifies all the necessary equipment for the program to be successful, from commonplace microphones to obscure cables. In total, the grant includes $50,000 of hardware and software to support instruction in audio recording, audio engineering, and DJing, as well as in-depth training for music teachers, and more.

In 2018, the grant was piloted in four different schools—including ones in Newark, New Jersey and Brooklyn, New York—and was partially funded by the money the foundation received from Reverb Gives. The schools were handpicked by the foundation for the pilot year based on funding, interest, whether the school already had an established music program, and the school district's willingness to find a qualified teacher for the program.


“A lot of teachers wanted to do this prior,” says Perry. “Many of them came to us with work that they did on the side. Some teachers even tried to create this grant on their own, with personal funds. For most of them, it was only a pipedream, which could only serve 20 to 30 students, maximum. So we’re happy that we could help them. A wide range of music teachers are qualified to teach music technology, and we'd love to see them have more professional opportunities to use those skills.”

From the beginning, Save The Music Foundation is keeping representation and diversity at the center of their values. “Music tech is very male-dominated at this point,” says Perry. “We want to make sure that we are serving many underrepresented groups.”

So far, the organization has received nothing but positive feedback from the schools involved. At a Newark high school where the program was implemented, students are now allowed to DJ during lunch periods every Monday and Friday.

“It calms students down during a time when they’re usually bouncing off the walls with energy. The fact they have music there brings them all together.”

Another group of students used the equipment to start a podcast—an increasingly popular medium that can be a great way for students with an interest in media to express themselves. It’s not just students enjoying the program, though. According to Perry, most of the parents of students in the program have been giving good feedback and are grateful that their kids are engaged and applying themselves in class.

With their most recent Reverb Gives Grant, Save The Music Foundation is planning on providing another Newark high school with DAWs, microphones, cables, and all the technology needed to jumpstart the program. In the near future, they're also looking to give to three or four more schools. And as for the long-term vision, Perry hopes to one day see programs like the one he’s helped pioneer in all schools, affording a wide range of students with a wide variety of interests the opportunity to enjoy, have access to, and learn about making music.

To learn more about the Save The Music Foundation’s “Music Tech Grant,” you can visit their website here.

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