Tag Archives: music

The Monday Life

The Monday Life

Mondays have a bad reputation.  It is the sign for many of us that the weekend is over and we have to go back to school or work.  Today’s organization might just change your mind about Monday by giving you something to look forward to on your Monday.

On Christmas Eve 2009, Joey McMahon’s grandfather passed away.  Joey was living in New York at the time and working a job he enjoyed, but the passing of his grandfather reignited a desire to do something to help people.  Joey moved back to North Carolina and started working on an organization in honor of his grandfather. 

The Monday Life uses the concept of crowd-funding to get as many people involved as possible.  The organization asks donors for $1 each Monday to raise funds to support their mission of helping hospitalized children feel better and heal faster by improving their patient environments.  They raise money to fill children’s hospitals with art, light, color, music, technology, massage, games, animals and fun.  They are a 501c3 nonprofit based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and partnered with six hospitals around the United States: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Seattle Children’s, Children’s Hospital Colorado, UNC Children’s Hospital, Duke Children’s Hospital, and Miami Children’s Hospital.  

The goal of The Monday Life is to spread awareness and get as many people involved as possible. They also wanted to make sure that anyone can help.  One dollar is reasonable for almost anyone to give toward the cause.  One dollar isn’t the upper limit, some choose to donate more. 

The organization’s website lists some scientific research on each type of environment improvement that they promote.  For example, art therapy offers a distraction from pain and illness, reduce stress, provide coping skills, and offer social benefits.  The article refers to recent data suggesting that art therapy programs may result in shorter hospital stays, less need for medication, and fewer complications for patients.  Music therapy can also serve as a distraction as well as reduce pain and anxiety, and provide emotional support and comfort.

Recently, the organization started allowing hospitals who they have not officially partnered with to set up their own fundraising sites that target a particular need such as adding an art or music therapist, purchasing iPads, or other items to improve the environment for patients.   They are also working with new technology to let patients in hospitals interact with each other via tablets, smartphones, and social media sites to help provide social support and entertainment.

How can you help?

  • The easiest way to get involved is to setup a reoccurring donation through their website.
  • You can also designate your reoccurring donation toward a specific partner hospital here.
  • You can even setup a fundraising page to help fundraise for any hospital that is in your area.  The Monday Life will set everything up and help with promotion, they just need approval from the hospital.

You can learn more about The Monday Life on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter or sign up for the weekly e-mails.

Related Posts: Camp Get-A-Well-A, Kid Flicks, and Sweet Dreams for Kids

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Posted by on October 30, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Melodic Connections

Melodic Connections

If you have been reading for a while, you have heard me mention that I was a band geek when I was young.  While I stopped playing music with a band after graduation, I still enjoy music and sharing music with my family.  Today’s organization sees the power of music in enhancing lives. 

In August 2003, Betsey Zenk Nuseibeh left a private music therapy practice to accept a position teaching music and music therapy in Cincinnati Public Schools.  She worked with many students with special needs but one student in particular moved her.  Latron was an autistic boy who did not speak except to echo back words spoken to him.  He was different in the music room.  He showed signs that he had perfect pitch.  In December 2005, he learned a simple blues progression on the piano and when he returned after winter break in January, he sat at the piano and played the beginning of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata after just listening to it on a recording each day.  Through music therapy, Latron found his voice, a way to communicate. 

A music therapist works to achieve musical and non-musical goals such as improvement in communication, academics, and motor skills.  Other families were inspired by Latron’s improvement and expressed interest in lessons.  Unfortunately, the cost of private music therapy is hard to fit into a budget already stretched by the expenses of occupational, physical, speech, and other therapies. 

Like-minded people around the Greater Cincinnati area were willing to donate their time and resources toward the cause.  A board of directors was formed including area writers, business people, teachers, therapists, and parents who had seen the benefits of music therapy first hand.  Space was donated by the successful Starfire Council non-profit and other community members were willing to donate instruments to the cause.  In April of 2009, Melodic Connections anticipated the possibility of 16 students receiving services from two music therapists.  Over 40 individuals expressed an interest in participating. 

The mission of Melodic Connections is to empower special learners through therapeutic group and individual music education and performance experiences. Melodic Connections also works to enhance the lives of Greater Cincinnati community members through the enjoyment of performance based musical art created by exceptional persons.

In 2010 the organization already needed to expand due to the growing interest and wait lists for their programs.  They moved into a new location dedicated solely for their lessons.  Since opening their new location in October 2010, they have expanded their adult conservatory day program from 3 members to 20.  After school classes have doubled in number as well.  They are proud to offer their programs at low or no cost to those who can benefit from the music therapy. 

In addition to their in studio adult daytime and youth after-school programs, they go to several local schools to offer music therapy.  They also offer summer social skills camps for kids ages 5 to 15. 

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Melodic Connections has a variety of ways you can help them further their mission. 

  • One way to help is hands on with the music and musicians.  They need regular volunteers to assist with their classes.  Every class is led by a board certified music therapist and you will receive instruction in how to best help the students.
  • They also need help spreading the word about the organization and helping them grow.  They need assistance with social media, their website, as well as other marketing and public relations tasks. 
  • They could also use event planning assistance for their concerts and fundraisers. 
  • They can also use monetary donations to help them continue to offer low and no cost music therapy to students in the Greater Cincinnati area.  You can find a PayPay donate button on their website or contact Betsey directly.  

You can learn more about Melodic Connections on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter

Related Posts:
Ear Candy Charity and Making Music Matters

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Posted by on October 2, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Keys 4/4 Kids

Do a quick Internet search for the benefits of music education and you will quickly find long lists of benefits including better academic performance, improved creative thinking, and higher self-esteem through self-expression (just to name a few).  There are many organizations dedicated to music and today I profile one of them.

Keys 4/4 Kids is a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire young people to believe in themselves through the arts.  The primary programs are the Piano Placement program and he Paint-A-Piano program.  Both programs involve piano donations to low-income homes, churches, schools, or community centers that could not otherwise afford a piano.  The organization also promotes better access to music and the arts to all people by selling pianos and donating the proceeds to support local music and arts programs.  You can see a video about their Piano Placement program here.

Newell Hill began selling donated pianos out of his parent’s garage in 2000 to fund MUSE, an after-school music and arts program in North Minneapolis.  This program helped fill the gap in music and arts education that was created by budget cuts to schools.  He was able to successfully fund the program and felt he had a great opportunity to bring the idea of piano donations to a broader public.

The organization is based in St. Paul, Minnesota and also has locations in Belle Plaine Minnesota, Chicago Illinois, and Kansas City Missouri.  They offer a unique opportunity to recycle used pianos rather than struggling to find a new home for a piano when moving, downsizing homes, or purchasing a new piano.  A piano donation to Keys 4/4 Kids supports local non-profits and allows you to receive a tax deduction.  It also provides a lower cost option for families looking to purchase a piano.

How can you help?

  • First, you can spread the word about this organization!  If you hear someone looking to buy a piano or trying to find a new home for their piano, please suggest they look into Keys 4/4 Kids.  You can find information about piano donations and pianos for sale on their website.
  • They are also currently looking for volunteers to help out on Saturdays to greet customers and even help them pick out pianos.
  • They are also looking for volunteers to assist them with their social media campaigns.

Another project that Keys 4/4 Kids has launched is Pianos on Parade (POP).  This project places ‘artistically transformed’ pianos around the Twin Cities, Minnesota in various outdoor locations for all to play and enjoy.  The idea behind this project is to spur residents and visitors to spontaneously engage with art, music, and one another, creating moments of community and highlighting the city’s exceptional commitment to music and arts.  You can learn more about this program and watch videos about it at  Below are examples of the pianos as well as a map of their piano locations in 2013.

You can learn more about the Keys 4/4 Kids organization on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook.


Pianos on Parade



Pianos on Parade

Pianos on Parade

Pianos on Parade Map

Click the map for an interactive map.


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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Community Celebration of Place

Music is such important parts of culture.  From Bach to the Beatles, folk music to rock n’ roll, even from Madonna and Lady Gaga – music can reflect who we are as a culture and capture more than just the words and notes.  Music can bring generations together.  Today’s organization uses music to bring generations together by turning stories into music through their Elder’s Wisdom, Children’s Song program. 

Community Celebration of Place (CCP) is a 501(c)3 non-profit that works to strengthen community spirit and pride by using music and art to honor the dignity, hard work and resiliency of people from  communities across the United States and beyond.  They do this through many different programs including Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song (EWCS) and Teaching Tolerance.  CCP is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but works around Minnesota, the United States, and even around the world with their programs.

CCP was founded in 1999 by Larry Long and a national group of education leaders.  The organization was created in order to formalize the multicultural and multigenerational model of learning and community building that Long, CCP Executive Director, had developed over 20 years of work in communities across the world as a troubadour, activist, and educator.

The EWCS program began in the 1980s in Oklahoma when Long was asked to bring the tradition of Woody Guthrie into the schools of Woody’s home state.  That experience led to a project in Alabama, where Long worked with children and elders in 27 rural Alabama communities.  Long went on to work with other communities in the Dakotas, California, Georgia, Tennessee, Minnesota, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, Russia, and Scotland.  After operating in hundreds of schools, EWCS has now evolved into a transferable process that can be incorporated into the daily curriculum of schools to meet the educational standards required of schools today, while restoring community and building connections with community elders through multigenerational, multicultural learning.  

In the EWCS program, community elders are brought into a school to share their stories.  The children listen, ask questions, and learn about the stories of these elders.  Then the children put together songs that tell those stories.  In the videos on the Community Celebration of Place website, you can see portions of previous programs.  In one program, the elders were a holocaust survivor, a woman raised in the segregated south, a war veteran, and an African storyteller together.  You could tell from the remarks of those involved that the program was a moving experience.  CCP has honored hundreds of elders in recitation and song from across the United States, and worked directly with thousands of young people, hundreds of teachers, and performed before over one hundred thousand community members.  You can learn more about the EWCS program and watch videos of previous performances at the CCP website

Another program CCP offers is Teaching Tolerance.  This recording and songbook is a musical journey through Native American chant, African American poetry, songs of friendship and belonging from immigrant communities across the United States, and classics from our nation’s proud tradition of singing for social change.  This program is being sent for free to over 200,000 elementary schools, community centers, and organizations serving young children.  For more information on this program, please visit the CCP website

Volunteers help make the CCP programs successful.  Some opportunities include:

  • CCP is seeking individuals with archival and organization background to assist with an archive project. 
  • They are in need of individuals to help setup and take down equipment (microphones, speakers, etc) at their EWCS Celebrations.
  • They are also are always looking for individuals who can help with marketing and promotions.
  • CCP also supports the Minneapolis Monarch Festival that occurs each September.  There is a great need for volunteers to assist with setup, take down, manning booths, helping with the arts areas, and more. 

Please contact CCP if you are interested in their volunteer opportunities.  You can also support CCP through a financial donation through the organization’s website

You can learn more about Community Celebration of Place and their programs at their website,

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Posted by on April 12, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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Ear Candy Charity

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. 

Learn more about Ear Candy on their website,  You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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Posted by on March 17, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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Making Music Matters

I was a band geek!  I played clarinet, bass clarinet, and even contra-bass clarinet and I was even in the color guard of a marching band.  My experience with band gave me an appreciation for music as well as some great friendships. 

Recent studies show that students who take part in the arts are more successful on standardized tests and achieve higher grades in school.  Students of the arts learn to think creatively and to solve problems by imagining various solutions and rejecting outdated rules and assumptions.  A report in 2006 by Collegeboard states that students of music continue to outperform their non-arts peers on the SATs.

Some schools can’t afford to offer music and arts programs to their students.  One such school was Stevens Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri.  Only 10% of students in seventh grade at Stevens Middle School scored at or above a proficient level in Communication Arts on the standardized Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) in 2009.  When compared with the state statistic of 51%, the school decided something needed to be done to help their students.  Stevens Middle School was looking for an after school program to engage students in enrichment activities, and Making Music Matters was born.

Co-founder Ken Zheng states, “I have played violin for eight years, and it has enriched my life greatly. I wanted to share that experience with other students. This project is vital because it provides a music enrichment after school program to students who otherwise would not have the opportunity.” 

Making Music Matters believes music is an integral part of a balanced education, so they established a program to teach students violin.  A lesson plans based on the Essential Elements for Strings book was developed by a group of students.  That was also mixed with activities and games that they created.

Making Music Matters offers opportunities for high school and college students to teach younger students music in inner-city schools.  Each week each student’s progress is measured with weekly quizzes. 

Recently, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra agreed to support and fund the Making Music Matters effort to spread the joy of music. So far, they have donated supplies and agreed to provide students free tickets to Symphony Concerts as a field trip.  Magic Rosin donated cakes of rosin to the students at Stevens Middle School.  Organizations such as Education Exchange Corps and RR Music Labs in the St. Louis area have provided the organization advice about how to best interact with the St. Louis Public School District.

How can you help? 

  • The organization is currently recruiting teen violin instructors. Teachers are selected based on their leadership skills and mastery of violin. These student instructors will volunteer for an hour once a week for the entire semester and meet weekly to discuss the program. Student instructors will gain the important skills of leadership, responsibility, teamwork, problem-solving, real-world communication skills, and conflict management. The instructors will develop their own quizzes throughout the semester for the violinists and will monitor the progress of the students.
  • Volunteers are needed to represent the program at booths and local fairs, distributing fliers at schools and coffee shops, promote involvement in the program, and write articles in school newspapers and church newsletters. 

Making Music Matters is also looking to expand their program to other schools in St. Louis, Missouri area.  According to co-founder Zheng, “By next year, we plan to establish a similar after school program in a different school.  In the future, we are also looking to include other instruments.”

For those in the St. Louis area, tonight, Thursday, December 9, there will be a concert at the school to showcase the progress of students at Stevens Middle School.  They will display what the students learned in one semester of weekly one-hour after school lessons.

You can follow Making Music Matters on their website ( on Twitter, or on Facebook.

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Posted by on December 9, 2010 in Nonprofit Organization


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