By Laura Ferreiro
When most people hear the word NAMM, they think of the popular trade shows that feature an abundance of music gear and instruments, and the musicians who love them jamming out in busy convention center halls. But what most people don’t realize is that NAMM (the National Association of Music Merchants) has a strong charitable component with a mission to strengthen the music industry.
The NAMM Foundation works to advance participation in music and promotes the benefits and pleasures of making music by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs. It does this in various ways with the support of 10,000 members in 99 countries who help fund and promote its efforts.
For example, the NAMM Foundation recently supported a study of students participating in the Turnaround Arts, designed to help turn around low-performing schools, narrow the achievement gap, and increase student engagement through the arts. Eight participating schools in the Washington, D.C. area were observed for the study. Incredibly, of the eight schools, seven improved their reading proficiency rates and six improved their math proficiency rates. All eight schools improved in at least math or reading. Half of the schools improved their attendance rates significantly, and more than half of the schools dramatically reduced suspensions.
The NAMM Foundation also provides free musical instruments and donations to music education programs across the country, and recently visited John Marshall Elementary School in Anaheim, Calif. to deliver guitars, drums, ukuleles and more. Several NAMM members and brands who were in town for the January trade show including Kala Brand Music Co., Remo, Daisy Rock Girl Guitar, Alfred Music, Music and Arts, Rhythm Band Instruments and GAMA, came out to show their support of the Anaheim City School District’s reintroduction of music education programs into the curriculum.
What’s more, NAMM invited several notable music-centric charities to their winter trade show and get the word out about their valuable work.
As in previous years, the John Lennon Education Tour Bus parked outside the Anaheim Convention Center to offer tours to kids and musicians and give people a glimpse of their state-of-the art, mobile recording studio. The non-profit offers students the chance to write and record music with high-quality equipment and music professionals at no charge. The Bus celebrated its 18th year with a party featuring a raucous performance by George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. Clinton also mentored students who were on hand from Berklee College of Music.
MusiCares set up shop at NAMM to help spread the word about their valuable work providing assistance to musicians in times of need. Renowned musicians such as CeeLo Green stopped by the booth to show their support. MusiCares also set up a Safe Harbor Room at NAMM where conference attendees could go to get support, attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, or just relax.
The House of Blues Music Forward Foundation not only told NAMM-goers about their work educating youth on the role of music and culture in social change and creating performance opportunities for young and emerging musicians, but they also offered one of NAMM’s hottest tickets. The NAMMJAM at the Grove of Anaheim featured a performance by glam metal rockers Steel Panther joined by KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer and former Megadeath guitarist Marty Friedman. A silent auction with plenty of music paraphernalia donated by musicians benefitted the charity.