John's Words on Music Education & Politics
reuters.com - thanks Rose for submitting this one!
Big Confab Puts Music Education on Schedule
Wed January 14, 2004 09:13 PM ET
By Tamara Conniff
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - While the recorded music
business continues to suffer from lackluster sales and Internet
piracy, the music-products business is fighting a different
threat to its business -- the continual nationwide cuts of
music programs in schools.
With the depletion of this consumer group, the music-products
business could be facing a crisis. Thankfully, sometimes business
interests and the public good collide. NAMM, the International
Music Products Assn., is leading the charge by lobbying Congress,
funding initiatives and studies and holding rallies to ensure
that band practice remains as important as sports leagues.
"We believe that music education should be a part of
every child's school day," says Joe Lamond, NAMM's president
and CEO. "From an industry standpoint, that is something
we believe to the core, not just as marketing or a way to
create new customers, but it's what our industry was built
on. Everyone that is in the music-products industry has generally
come up through that system themselves."
Adds Lamond, who began his music career as a touring drummer
and production manager for Todd Rundgren, Ringo Starr and
the Grateful Dead: "I had music programs when I was in
school, and it's strange that there is a really good chance
that my kids won't."
The proceeds of NAMM's four-day trade show, which kicks off
Thursday in Anaheim, will go toward efforts to keep music
programs in schools as well as initiatives to build the recreational
music industry aimed an nonprofessional musicians. Lamond
says that more than 70,000 attendees are expected, which could
result in proceeds of about $6 million.
One of NAMM's priorities at the moment is SupportMusic.com
-- an information Web site tailored to give parents and other
interested parties the tools to address school boards and
Lamond says that because 2004 is an election year, NAMM will
be extremely active in Washington. In March, NAMM will hold
several events promoting SupportMusic.com and also will have
a presence at the Democratic and Republican conventions.
"We want to try to nail down the views of the parties
and the candidates," Lamond says. "A lot of people
care, and a lot of people will be influenced by (the candidates')
stands on music education."
Goo Goo Dolls frontman, singer-songwriter Johnny
Rzeznik, also has taken an active role by becoming the ambassador
"I think it's a fundamental right -- one way to pursue
happiness, which is supposed to be an inalienable right,"
Rzeznik says. "I think everybody in the music business
that has been blessed enough to have a career and make some
dough should really give it back. Record companies and musical
instruments manufacturers are all being very generous because
it's good business."
Rzeznik became involved because he didn't take any formal
music education in school. "I didn't realize that I would
wind up being a musician," he says. "I have no foundation
education in it. Even though that forced me into rewriting
the rules of music for myself, sometimes I wonder, what could
I have done? I'm starting to learn more music theory now,
and I'm really excited about it. You start listening to more
and different music. Actually understanding how it's done
gets you interested in people's cultures and people's psyches
While Rzeznik has met with numerous lawmakers on Capitol
Hill, he says one of the senators he'd like an audience with
to discuss music education is Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who also
is a songwriter.
"I would like to meet with him," Rzeznik says.
"If I can get him to sit down and listen to me for five
minutes, I'll write a song with him."
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