I didn’t know what to make of my first NAMM Show. In some ways, it was exactly what I’d expected; loud, busy, lots of amazing gear… But what surprised me most about the experience were the people. I’d grown up around a handful of musicians, including a few members of my family, and most of my school chums. But stepping onto the main floor of my first NAMM Show was something entirely different. I felt like an alien that had been raised on another planet, and then sent back to my home world. I’d never been around that many people that looked like me and knew the same things I did. We all spoke the same language. We all had been affected profoundly by music. These were my people.
Music affects us in different ways. I assume that because you are reading a niche publication devoted to a very specific part of the big musical picture (devices and equipment devoted to low frequencies), that it has influenced your life similarly to mine. For me, it has always felt like a spiritual experience. Here’s a quick example to help illustrate my point.
I recently had the pleasure of hosting a Grammy-award-winning artist at my educational institution of employment. At
one point, this artist went around the room and asked each master-class attendee “why they loved music.” As I sat and listened to the responses, I started to worry that I would be included in the questioning. I began to realize that being asked that particular question would make me uncomfortable and annoyed. Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience. I later realized that “why do you love music?” is not a discussion that I’m prepared to have with someone I’ve just met, or in front of a large group. For me, it’s akin to asking a stranger about their religious beliefs. It’s personal. Let’s get to know each other for a year or two, and then discuss it. It’s so important to me that I have dedicated my life to pursuing a greater understanding of it. The tagline for NAMM, “Believe in Music,” really hits the nail on the head, for me.
Like many of you, I find great value in passing along music’s secrets to others. How important is it that we share our passion? Because of rampant defunding of arts programs, there is much work to be done in calling attention to the importance of music in our society. This is where the NAMM Foundation steps in.
The NAMM Foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs. A supporting organization of NAMM, the NAMM Foundation is funded by NAMM Members through trade association activities and private donations.
The NAMM Foundation is a supporting organization of the National Association of Music Merchants and focuses on three main areas of philanthropy. First, they work to provide music-making and educational opportunities for people of all ages, including school children, wounded warriors, and the elderly. This is accomplished through the awarding of generous grants. Due to the number of grant proposals received each year, they are now accepted by invitation, only. In recent years, the NAMM Foundation has awarded $600,000 to music education programs.
The second area of concentration supports scientific musical research. Scholarships awarded annually to help further studies concerning the benefits of music and music education include the NAMM President’s Innovation Award and the William R. Gard Scholarship. These grants are currently funding research at Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern University, and the University of South Florida.
Advocating for Music Education is the third area of interest. The NAMM Foundation is accomplishing this through the creation and development of a program called the SupportMusic Coalition. The mission of this initiative is to unite non-profit organizations, schools, and businesses in support of music education at the national, state, and local levels.
The decision to give back, to help inspire others musically, is something we should all consider. Think back to the time when you got your first real bass, or your first amp that could rattle the windows and drive your neighbors crazy. Remember the first song you learned all the way through? Think back to a time when you were first recognized as a “good” bass player in your community. Or perhaps there was a time when you lost track of the hours and played an entire day away. We should recognize that, overall, these experiences are rare in our society … but they don’t have to be. Visit www.nammfoundation.org to help spread the musical experience.