The Music Empowers Foundation Blog

The Next Chapter for Music Empowers Foundation

Nov 16, 2015

I have some big news to share with you today. And, I must admit, it may come as a bit of a surprise.

A little over five years ago, I started the Music Empowers Foundation to fund other nonprofits that offered innovative music education to children in communities where it either didn't exist or was underdeveloped. Music Empowers was founded on the knowledge that learning to play and create music can ignite a child's creativity, foster a sense of accomplishment and empower them to achieve and succeed in all aspects of their lives.

Since its inception, the Foundation has provided nearly $1 million in grants and has brought music education programs to hundreds of thousands of children. We have partnered with and supported national organizations like Little Kids Rock, Berklee City Music, and, which have dramatically broadened children's access to music education. We've also supported a host of regional and local organizations such as Blackbird Academy of Arts (Arkansas), Piano Outreach of New York, Music & Youth Initiative (Boston) and Neighborhood Studios (Fairfield, CT) that, combined, have brought music education to thousands more children.

I am proud that we've touched so many lives. In the end, however, my goal in starting Music Empowers was not to create a legacy. Nor was it to effect a profound change in the world of music education, or create a movement. It was, more humbly, to help bring music education to as many children as possible for as long as possible.

I believe that to the extent possible given our resources, this goal has been achieved. I am satisfied with what has been accomplished. While there is surely much more to be done, I have decided that it is now time to wind down the organization. I know that this news is sudden and comes as a surprise to most, but it is the right decision for me and for Music Empowers.

I am sure that many of you will want to continue supporting and funding the cause of music education. Accordingly, I would like to introduce you to an organization with a focus and passion similar to that of Music Empowers called SpreadMusicNow. Like the Music Empowers Foundation, SpreadMusicNow believes that music education can empower children and transform their lives. And like Music Empowers, they fund high-quality nonprofit arts organizations that provide music instruction to underserved youth, helping to shape their futures and put them on a path to lifelong success.

SpreadMusicNow LogoFor those of you who were considering making a donation this year to Music Empowers Foundation, I ask that instead you make a donation to SpreadMusicNow here. I also ask that you stay engaged in the active dialogue that Music Empowers has generated on social media. This will be easy to do as SpreadMusicNow will in effect be taking over where Music Empowers will be leaving off, offering the same informative, provocative and fun content you've come to enjoy with Music Empowers. If you don't want to miss a beat, visit their Facebook page and become a fan.

Of course, Music Empowers will not simply disappear. We will maintain a social media presence for the foreseeable future and the Music Empowers website will remain live for a similar duration.

I would like to express my profound gratitude to all of you who have supported Music Empowers over the past five years. Your generosity and moral support have been remarkable and have been the lifeblood of the organization. We could not have accomplished what we did without your efforts. I will remember that forever.

Thank you and be well,

Andy Davis
Founder, The Music Empowers Foundation

READ: The Next Chapter for Music Empowers Foundation

July Music Student of the Month: Jewels

Jul 01, 2015

Congratulations to our Music Student of the Month Jewel!

This 13-year-old Autistic musical prodigy, Jewels, plays the piano beautifully without reading any
notes by using the Simply Music Gateway program. At age 3, he was unable to speak or move his fingers but now he's a star! Several of our fans were blow away by his recent YouTube videos and nominated him. And, we have to agree, it's quite moving. Check out his video
that is inspiring millions:

And don't forget to nominate your Music Student of the Month for August on our Facebook page!

READ: July Music Student of the Month: Jewels

Music Student of the Month: Tyler Thormahlen

Jun 03, 2015 Karen Parks's photo.

Congratulations to our Music Student of the Month Tyler Thormahlen!

Tyler has played the French Horn since 6th grade. His mom Karen, who nominated him, says he was unfortunately bullied in elementary and middle school. That experience drove him to become a role model and mentor for other band students.

In high school, Tyler quickly distinguished himself as a leader in the band. He was the section leader, logistics coordinator, and eventually VP of the band! Karen tells us Tyler also had a goal of reaching the All-State level- and he did! He made it for the first time in 11th grade, and again in 12th. Karen says he even moved up to second chair that final year! Also in 12th grade, Tyler was chosen to perform with the National Honor Orchestra in Indiana!

Despite his musical talents, Karen said Tyler enrolled in the Engineering Department at Texas A&M. However, at the end of his first semester, Tyler called to tell her that his passion was music and that he decided to withdraw from Texas A&M. Karen supported Tyler's dream and he applied to SFA University for music education. She said Tyler started there this January and was quickly invited to be a part of the horn quartet and the brass quintet! Karen said, "I admire him for following his dreams! He rocks!"

Karen, we couldn't agree more! And that's why Tyler us our June Music Student of the Month. We are lucky to have Tyler as a future music educator!

READ: Music Student of the Month: Tyler Thormahlen

Music Empowers Launches Music Student of the Month

May 02, 2015

Music Empowers Foundation was established as a private foundation in 2010 to provide funding to nonprofit organizations that offer engaging and innovative music instruction to children in communities where music education either does not exist or is underdeveloped. Since 2010, we have awarded over $700,000 in grants for organizations which have provided music education to over 200,000 children. We're so proud of how many lives we've touched. That's why we've decided to launch the Music Student of the Month campaign.

Educators, parents, mentors and even fellow students can nominate a child they think is deserving of the honor through our Facebook page: The music student of the month may have the opportunity to be featured on our blog with their story, and we’ll announce the winner on our Facebook and Twitter pages each month. We hope these stories will show the world how music education can make a big impact on our youth.

READ: Music Empowers Launches Music Student of the Month

Rock The Cradle

Apr 27, 2015

Share that playlist! Introducing your baby to tunes is an easy and enjoyable way to interact with your baby in his first year and can help set the stage for lifelong musical development. Plus, playing together with music can brighten his mood, benefit his brain, and boost his language skills.

All babies are born with the potential to become musical, and they often react to songs with enthusiasm. "Infants' hearing is well developed soon after birth, so they can respond to music very early on," explains Diane Bales, Ph.D., associate professor of human development and family science at the University of Georgia, in a recent Parents Magazine article. Encouraging your baby's natural fascination with it can strengthen your relationship with her, boost her language skills, and open the door to all sorts of exploration and fun.

To learn more about how music benefits infants, read the full story from Parents Magazine.

READ: Rock The Cradle

Twelve Benefits of Music Education

Mar 15, 2015

The Children's Music Workshop recently published a list of 12 benefits of music education. We love this list since you can never get enough benefits from music...they are truly endless.

1. Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning. It is thought that brain development continues for many years after birth. Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds.

2. There is also a causal link between music and spatial intelligence (the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things). This kind of intelligence, by which one can visualize various elements that should go together, is critical to the sort of thinking necessary for everything from solving advanced mathematics problems to being able to pack a book-bag with everything that will be needed for the day.

3. Students of the arts learn to think creatively and to solve problems by imagining various solutions, rejecting outdated rules and assumptions. Questions about the arts do not have only one right answer.

4. Recent studies show that students who study the arts are more successful on standardized tests such as the SAT. They also achieve higher grades in high school.

5. A study of the arts provides children with an internal glimpse of other cultures and teaches them to be empathetic towards the people of these cultures. This development of compassion and empathy, as opposed to development of greed and a “me first” attitude, provides a bridge across cultural chasms that leads to respect of other races at an early age.

For the rest of the tips, check out the full post from Children's Music Workshop!

READ: Twelve Benefits of Music Education

5 Reasons Why Music Helps Children with Special Needs

Feb 06, 2015

We all know how powerful music can be in our own lives and in the lives of our children, but why is music so compelling and captivating? What exactly is it about music that makes it a great way to connect with and help children with special needs? The Friendship Circle Blog takes a look at 5 ways it helps.

The author sums up the post says, "Music ROCKS! Not only are there mountains of anecdotal evidence that tell us this, but now through the fields of Neuroscience and Music Therapy, the data shows us why music is so powerful. Music is an easy, fun and motivating way to connect with children and motivate them to develop new skills. So grab your child, grab some instruments and let’s make some music!"

READ: 5 Reasons Why Music Helps Children with Special Needs

How Playing Music Benefits Your Brain More than Any Other Activity

Jan 21, 2015

In her blog Brain Pickings, Maria Popova shares a short animation from Ted-ed, written by Anita Collins and animated by Sharon Colman Graham, which explains why playing music benefits the brain more than any other activity, how it impacts executive function and memory, and what it reveals about the role of the same neural structure implicated in explaining Leonardo da Vinci’s genius.

READ: How Playing Music Benefits Your Brain More than Any Other Activity

This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain On Music

Dec 18, 2014

Musical training doesn't just improve your ear for music — it also helps your ear for speech. That's the takeaway from an unusual new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience. Researchers found that kids who took music lessons for two years didn't just get better at playing the trombone or violin; they found that playing music also helped kids' brains process language.

And here's something else unusual about the study: where it took place. It wasn't a laboratory, but in the offices of Harmony Project in Los Angeles. It's a nonprofit after-school program that teaches music to children in low-income communities.

Read the full story from NPR's Cory Turner to learn more about the study and Harmony project.

READ: This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain On Music

Vanderbilt Researchers Explore Links Between Grammar And Rhythm Read

Nov 10, 2014

Researchers at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center say a child’s ability to distinguish musical rhythm is related to his or her capacity for understanding grammar.

Although more research will be necessary to determine how to apply the knowledge, researchers say there's no doubt that music education can be used to improve grammar skills.

“This may help us predict who would be the best candidate for particular types of therapy or who’s responding the best,” said Research Fellow Reyna Gordon, Ph.D. “Is it the child with the weakest rhythm that needs the most help or is it the child that starts out with better rhythm that will then benefit the most?”

To measure the children’s grammar skills, they were shown a variety of photographs and asked questions about them.

Read the full story from Red Orbit:

READ: Vanderbilt Researchers Explore Links Between Grammar And Rhythm Read