When I was young, I had the opportunity to be a band geek. I haven’t continued to play an instrument into my adult life, but I have continued my appreciation of music. I have also heard recent studies that have indicated that music education helps students in a variety of ways…including some studies that have found students who study the arts are more successful on standardized tests such as the SAT. Today’s organization is on a mission to provide more youth access to music education.
In 2007, Nate Anderson came across a startling statistic: Arizona was 50th out of the 50 states in per person educational funding in the United States. As a music enthusiast, Nate began researching the effects of such low funding levels on music education in Arizona’s public schools. Nate’s research changed his life, because in October of 2007, it lead him to found Ear Candy Charity as a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to providing access to music education to young people.
Ear Candy began with benefit concerts and events to raise money to support music education. Soon they also began conducting instrument drives with collection points at all 57 Phoenix fire stations. Truckloads of instruments were delivered to schools across the Phoenix area.
Ear Candy supports pre-established in school music programs by providing instrument donations to help round out the program. Instrument donations from individual donors and companies are given to school programs that qualify. The need for music education is at an all-time high and it’s growing. Ear Candy creates mutually beneficial partnerships with pre-established music programs to maximize their efforts and impact the most kids. The instruments stay with the programs to help a new class of students every year…thus providing a compounding annual impact. In 2010 they impacted over 10,000 youth by placing just over 700 instruments with their efforts. You can learn more about the school music program support on the Ear Candy website.
Ear Candy has grown to include more than just instrument drives. They believe that kids need a holistic education when it comes to music and there is more to music education than learning notes, chords, and songs. The Backstage Class® field trip program provides once in a lifetime opportunities for kids to experience music in unique and impactful ways. These experiences tend to be one-time events, but the impact they have on the kids can be profound. The Backstage Class curriculum was developed with the Arizona State University Music Education department to ensure that high quality lessons are delivered. Some examples of Backstage Class opportunities include artist sound checks, radio station visits, trips to museums, recording studio visits, exploring instrument manufacturer and repair business and meet and greets with artists.
Ear Candy also holds a Rock Band program where the kids work with professional musicians to improve skills. They teamed up with the Phoenix Conservatory of Music to launch Rock Band Programs at the Scottsdale Public Library with the help of funding from the Scottsdale Cultural Council and Scottsdale League of the Arts. The Rock Band program covers rhythms, songwriting, starting a band, digital music, exploration of careers in music, and more.
How can you help?
- If you live in the Phoenix, Arizona area, drop off a new or gently used instrument at any of your local fire station. The donation is tax deductible and is tracked to ensure the donor is updated with where the donation has been placed and its impact. Learn more about Ear Candy’s instrument drives on their website.
- Anyone can make a monetary donation to help support the variety of Ear Candy music programs.
- Spread the word about Ear Candy! Currently they are serving Arizona kids, but have goals to expand to more markets.
- Ear Candy also needs volunteers (or as they call them…Roadies) to assist with special events, fundraising, instrument pickup, social media content, and more! Learn more about their current volunteer opportunities on their website.
- This spring, Ear Candy is also launching a Community Ally program to allow local business the opportunity to help support their mission.