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Music Makes Us"Within the next three years, all Kindergarten through Grade 12 students in Metro Schools will have opportunities to participate in high quality music instruction..."

In a strong move signaling to the rest of the country the Music City is a leader in arts education, the Board of Education adopted a lengthy resolution not only acknowledging the vital importance of music education, but also commmiting to expanding it.

The resolution was approved Tuesday, January 8. It recognizes the part music education plays in improved test scores, graduation rates and closing the achievement gap. But perhaps more importantly, it also recognizes the other, harder to measure impact music education can have.

...multiple research studies make clear that students who participate in a rigorous, sequential, standards-based visual and performing arts education develop the ability to innovate, communicate, and collaborate...

...such music education in schools improves test scores, increases graduation rates and helps close achievement gaps among student groups...

...research shows music enhances cognitive development in many areas, including verbal skills and social emotional learning...

...research indicates low income students with in-depth music and arts involvement earn better grades, are more likely to attend college, develop greater self esteem and are more engaged in civic affairs...

Read the full resolution

So what will Metro Schools do with all of these facts and this recognition?

Music instruction for all students in all grades.

The act wasn't merely symbolic. It was a distinct recognition of the Music Makes Us program and the work it does. Going even further than that, it was a commitment to stick with the program, expand it and support it whatever ways possible.

Music Makes Us is a collaboration between Metro Schools, the Mayor's Office, and mutliple groups in the community and the music industry. It strives to increase the quality and quantity of music education in our schools with classes that are tied to rigorous academic standards and a more modern approach to music classes.

Learn more about Music Makes Us

The arts play a vital role in academic success, and we are proud to have this renewed commitment as set of guiding principals for music education.


The chorus program at Oliver Middle School is in the running for a $15,000 music grant courtesy of Rack Room Shoes! From Dec. 28 - Jan. 13, 2013, vote for Oliver’s video here at Rack Room Shoes website and click on the Gift of Music icon. The top four vote recipients will win $15,000 to support the music program. So log on and vote for Oliver!


UPDATE! Marcus and Joey will finally make their national debut! Thursday, Dec. 20, a special segment highlighting their time working with Brad Paisley will air during the CMA Country Christmas Special on ABC.

Live television, folks! CMA Week (a.k.a “Country Music’s Biggest Night™”) cast a national spotlight on two Metro high school students – even if they didn’t end up playing with Brad Paisley during the broadcast.

Marcus Wanner, a student at Nashville School of the Arts, and Joey Santoro, a student at Hume-Fogg Magnet High School, were hand-selected to perform with Brad during the The 46th Annual CMA Awards on Thursday. The performance was meant to draw attention to Keep the Music Playing, a program that has donated more than $6.1 million to support music education on behalf of the hundreds of Country Music artists that perform at CMA Music Festival for free.

But the hectic world of live television forced the performance to be cut from the show, though they still had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rehearse with Brad and appear with him on Good Morning America.

Isaac Litton Middle School, home of the Marching 100, was also to be featured, though that video segment was cut from the broadcast, as well. Teachers Allison Winstein and William McMillan - along with more than twenty students - participated in a video shoot promoting the Keep the Music Playing partnership with MNPS.

Litton was selected to participate for its long and rich history of excellence in music. Litton is now redeveloping its music program as part of its overall school improvement program and in partnership with Music Makes Us, a city-school partnership that aims to reinvigorate music education in Nashville.

“The support and generosity of our Nashville community is remarkable,” said Laurie Schell, director of Music Makes Us. “We are so grateful to the Country Music Association's Keep the Music Playing program for ensuring our students have access to quality musical instruments. Having a good instrument is the first step toward becoming a music-lover for life."

About Keep the Music Playing

Keep the Music Playing is an initiative of the CMA Foundation, which exists to provide financial support to worthwhile causes that are important to the Country Music Association and the Country Music community. The CMA Foundation places special emphasis on serving the needs of CMA's core constituents and nonprofit organizations with initiatives that preserve the legacy of the format, music education, and respond to such other needs that may be identified in the future by the CMA.

Since 2006, KTMP has contributed more than $6.1 million to Metro Nashville Public Schools. The funds have been used to build music labs, provide sound and lighting equipment for school auditoriums, and purchase more than 4,000 instruments for the schools.

About Music Makes Us

Music Makes Us promotes, supports and advances student engagement and achievement through robust, high quality music education with both a traditional music curriculum as well as a contemporary curriculum track that uses new technologies and reflects a diverse musical landscape. A public/private partnership among Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, and music industry and community leaders in Nashville, Music Makes Us is committed to becoming a worldwide leader in music education, bringing the resources of the Nashville music community together to enable participation and foster student success for all of its 81,000 students.

Building on a model partnership and the generosity of the Country Music Association’s Keep The Music Playing program, Music Makes Us seeks to establish groundbreaking new contemporary curriculum pathways as well as create a strong alignment with the instructional goals of MNPS, enhance existing chorus, band and orchestra programs, facilitate strong partnerships among the business and nonprofit music communities, develop a facilities master plan, and improve the support infrastructure for teachers, students and community partners.


The Wright/Glencliff Mariachi classes made their debut performance during a special field trip to Cheekwood Saturday, Oct. 27. According to leader Alan Lambert, “Not only were the students enthusiastic, but they did a great job performing for the first time in front of their friends and family on the steps of Glencliff High School!” Lambert said after the performance, the group visited Cheekwood Gardens for the Dia de los Muertos event. There students interacted with local mariachis, decorated sugar skulls, and took in the sights, sounds and smells of the beautiful gardens and special exhibits. “For most students and parents, this was their first time at Cheekwood, but it won’t be their last,” said Lambert.

Mariachi debut performance 2012


Eakin elementary students had a real life visit from their online music hero! Known to his audiences as Quaver, Graham Hepburn dropped in to music teacher Rita Black's class to demonstrate in real life what the students are learning through his online music program. The best part? Channel 4's Terry Bulger caught it all on camera! Check out Quaver with Mrs. Black's class in Bulger's Beat.


In August, 16 Oliver Middle School musicians were featured singing and playing with Carrie Underwood on the CBS special Teachers Rock. The TV special paid a musical tribute to America's teachers and serves as a fundraiser for the "Teach for America" program. Dierks Bentley, Josh Underwood with Croft - a group of Croft students perform with Carrie UnderwoodGroban and pop group Fun. were among the other artists seen on Teachers Rock. Teachers Rock also featured personal recollections from Dave Grohl, Usher and Maroon 5's Adam Levine and James Valentine. Some well-known actors also appeared on the program, including Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jennifer Garner, Jack Black, Morgan Freeman and Matthew Morrison.

The students from Oliver were selected from a wide pool of musically gifted children. They ranged in ages from 10-12 and represented the wonderfully diverse culture of Oliver Middle School. Susan Waters and Katie Harrah, Band Directors, Franklin Willis, Choir Director and Delores McCreery, Drama Teacher all collaborated to select the 16 students to sing and play along with Underwood. 

The performance was pre-taped on Opry Stage A for the Friday night broadcast. The students worked with Underwood's musical director for about two hours on the back up vocals, percussion parts and clapping responsibilities. During lunch the students, teachers and parents were treated to a catered lunch and were able to mingle with the production crew. After lunch, Underwood's band came on set and the rehearsal continued. Late in the afternoon, Underwood joined the group on stage and performed the song "Nobody Ever Told You" four times with the students. Afterwards the students posed for photos with Carrie Underwood and each received an autographed photo. That’s what we call a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!


Mariachi offered at Wright Middle, Glencliff High as part of the Music Makes Us education program

Music education in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools is becoming even richer this year with the launch of a mariachi program at Wright Middle and Glencliff High Schools as part of the Music Makes Us music education project. Alan Lambert, an experienced mariachi educator, is the mariachi program director.

"Mariachi music is what gives Mexico and its people its identity. It is vibrant and passionate like no other music in the world. The young and old love it just the same and feel so proud to be able to express themselves in this great country that gives them the opportunity to learn the music in the schools," said Grammy-winning mariachi artist Jose Hernandez. "I have seen it change lives and look forward to seeing this genre blossom in the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools under the leadership of Alan Lambert who is well-known for developing quality mariachi programs in Texas."

Lambert brings his passion for music and education to Metro Schools from the Grand Prairie (Texas) Independent School District where he was the director of the district’s mariachi program for grades 6-12. Under his leadership, the district’s mariachi program expanded from two to 11 campuses and his students performed at venues ranging from school auditoriums and nursing homes to the Texas State Fair and Cowboy Stadium.

“I am excited about the mariachi program in Metro Schools. Our mariachi students will make wonderful music, but I expect much more than that. I have high standards for their academic success and community service,” Lambert said. “I want students to earn top honors at music competitions and to continue their educations after high school graduation.” 

Music Makes Us: The Nashville Music Education Project is a public/private partnership among Metro Schools, Mayor Karl Dean,The Recording Academy and music industry leaders in Nashville. The initiative is moving Metro Schools beyond a traditional performance-based music curriculum to an expanded curriculum that includes diverse music genres. The vision is for music instruction that is sequential, high quality and relevant to the learning interests and needs of pre-K-12 students.

“Music Makes Us is very fortunate indeed to have a music educator the caliber of Alan Lambert offering a mariachi program at Glencliff and Wright,” said Nancy Shapiro, senior vice president with The Recording Academy. “It is the first of many new classes that will make music education in Music City the best in the nation. We welcome Mr. Lambert and thank him for sharing mariachi with our students. It will be an enriching and life-changing experience for them.”

An El Paso native, Lambert started and led the first All-Region Mariachi program in North Texas sanctioned by the Texas Music Education Association. His students’ musical excellence was noted in performances at the Mexican consulate and the Latino Cultural Center.

Lambert served as a volunteer, board member and eventually a teacher for the non-profit Creative Planet School of the Arts in California before joining the faculty at Wilson High School in East Los Angeles as a special education teacher. Previously, he had a career in marketing, fundraising and operations in the United States and Germany working with AT&T and the New York and Brooklyn Philharmonics.

Lambert received a bachelor’s degree in music from Texas Tech University and a master’s degree in music from New Mexico State University. He holds a music education certificate from California State University and an educational leadership and principal certificate from the University of Texas.

The Metro Schools mariachi program was introduced in May with concert performances from Jose Hernandez and from the Veterans Juvenil de America Mariachi. Mariachi is a term used to describe a group of strolling musicians performing a style of Mexican music, a member of such a band and their music.

Wright Middle School is a zoned middle school at 180 McCall Street off Nolensville Road. Nearby Glencliff High School is also a zoned school at 160 Antioch Pike.

Music Makes Us is under the overall direction of Jay Steele, associate superintendent of high schools. The staff also includes Laurie Schell, director; Dr. Nola Jones, music coordinator; and long-time Metro Schools educator Carol Crittenden.


Pearl-Cohn Summer demo students, producers, and engineers

Metro students Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay, Jevon and Jordan Donaldson, and Ariell Pryor had the opportunity to work with well-known Nashville musicians to cut artist demos in Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High’s studio. This comes on the heels of Music Makes Us and Warner Music Nashville providing two week summer internships for 20 Pearl-Cohn students, where they learned about the record business first-hand.

Dave Pomeroy, bassist and president of the American Federation of Musicians, along with drummer Craig Krampf, keyboardist Jim “Moose” Brown, and guitarist Gary Burnette provided tracks for the demos. Studio production services were provided by Bob McCracken, audio production teacher at Pearl-Cohn, assisted by Warner Music interns Mario Rosales, Deon’te Jones, Luis Trejo, and Vincent Zirker. At the end of the recording session, each of the students gets a mix of their song. This is the first effort of the new student-run record label at Pearl-Cohn to introduce itself to Metro students who dream of becoming recording artists.

A good time was had by all!


The Maplewood Showstoppers performed at the grand opening of a Fifth Third Bank last Saturday, July 14.

The Maplewood Showstoppers' "Black Cat Band" performed outside the new Madison bank branch, and were even joined by a famous sabre-toothed mascot - Gnash from the Nashville Predators!

Gnash performing with the Black Cat Band

Despite the weather and having to reroute the sound, sound board and speakers due to the rain, the dedicated students were able to perform for a very enthusiastic crowd. The band played songs from Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and the Temptations.

The Black Cat Band performing

Fifth Third has asked for the band to come back and perform at future events. The performance was Maplewood's way of saying "thank you" to Fifth Third and giving back to an amazing Academy partner.


Public-private partnership will make the Metro Schools program the nation’s best

Laurie SchellAfter a nationwide search, Metro Nashville Public Schools has selected the inaugural director of the Music Makes Us education project, Laurie Tobian Schell, who has 25 years of experience as an arts education advocate and leader.

“When school starts August 1, we will also start a new era in music education for Metro Schools,” said Dr. Jesse Register, director of schools. “Laurie Schell brings expertise in both the education and arts policy arenas as well as a passion for music. It’s evident she cares deeply about the success of all our students.”

Schell joins Metro Schools from California, where she served as the executive director of the California Alliance for Arts Education, a statewide policy and advocacy organization, from 2001 – 2011. She garnered a national reputation for innovative, effective leadership for her role in securing $105 million for ongoing state funding for arts education for all 6 million California students in 2006. Most recently, she has worked as founding principal of Laurie Schell Associates, providing consulting services and issue expertise to nonprofits with a focus on the arts and K-12 education.

She holds a bachelor of arts in psychology from Stanford University and a master of arts in liberal studies in dance from Wesleyan University.

“Music Makes Us will transform music education in our city, and Nashville is fortunate to have an innovative leader like Laurie Schell shape this important program,” Mayor Karl Dean said. “She has been a champion in making arts and music a core part of every child’s education in California, and I welcome to Music City her proven ability to work with educators and music industry professionals.”

Music Makes Us: The Nashville Music Education Project is a public/private partnership among Metro Schools, Mayor Karl Dean, the Music City Music Council, and music industry leaders in Nashville. The initiative will move Metro Schools beyond a traditional performance-based music curriculum to an expanded curriculum that includes diverse music genres. New classes in composition, rock band and hip-hop performance will be added, while traditional music curriculum in band, orchestra and choir will be enhanced.

“It is exciting to see the Music Makes Us initiative take shape,” said Nancy Shapiro, vice president of member services for The Recording Academy and an early advocate for Music Makes Us. “Laurie’s hiring is another step toward our goal of making Nashville’s music education program the best in the nation.”

The initiative is under the overall direction of Jay Steele, associate superintendent of high schools, with a community advisory board to be appointed by Mayor Dean and Dr. Register. The staff also includes Dr. Nola Jones, music coordinator, and long-time Metro Schools educator Carol Crittenden. Schell will begin her duties June 15.

About Music Makes Us

Music Makes Us is a new approach to music education in Metro Nashville Public Schools that focuses on enhancing the traditional music curriculum and adding a contemporary curriculum track that uses new technologies and reflects a diverse musical landscape. Reaching 79,000 students in Metro Public Schools, Music Makes Us pledges to make Nashville the worldwide leader in music education. The initiative was announced in 2011 as a partnership among Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and the Music City Music Council.


Made weekend plans yet? Don't bother! We know what you'll be doing.

Grammy nominated mariachi star José Hernàndez is giving a FREE performance at Glencliff High School this Friday night! He'll be joined by the Veterans Juvenil de America Mariachi Band from Rio Grande City, Texas.

It's all a fundraiser for the Music Makes Us Mariachi program kicking off next year. This new program will bring middle and high school students into the world of mariachi, practicing and performing in school ensembles. Donations will be accepted at this free concert event.

This is a wonderful opportunity to not only enjoy a free concert, but to support a budding music program that could change the lives of young students. Don't miss it!!

La música nos hace Mariachi

Music Makes Us Mariachi Concert






Dozens of young musicians will light up the stage at the 2012 Keep the Music Playing All-Star Concert. Hosted by CMA and organized by the Nashville Public Education Foundation and Metro Schools, the concert will feature some of the district's finest young musicians. Recording artist Chris Young will host the concert and special guest Suzy Bogguss will be on hand to help celebrate. CMA will also announce the 2011 CMA Music Festival donation to music education through the CMA Foundation and the Keep the Music Playing initiative. Since 2006, CMA has donated $4.7 million in funds and musical equipment to Metro Schools through Keep the Music Playing.


Edwin Santiago, music teacher at McKissack Middle School, has been named the 2012 Edwina Hefner Community Leadership Award winner. The award is given each year by the Nashville Symphony in conjunction with the Regions "Let Freedom Sing" concert that honors the life of Dr. Martin Luther King. Santiago is the fifth recipient of the annual award. His passion for music education was the root of his nomination and selection. To read more about Santiago and his new title, click here.

Edwin Santiago
Edwin Santiago - Picture courtesy of



Music Makes UsMusic permeates Nashville at all levels, and soon it will permeate Nashville public education at all levels, too.

From the stage at the Ryman Auditorium, Mayor Karl Dean, Director of Schools Jesse Register and many community and business leaders in Nashville announced 'Music Makes Us,' a new approach to music education that will reach students in all grades.

Young students will be exposed to all kinds of music from an early age, including jazz, bluegrass, folk, world music. Middle and high school students will be able to take courses in songwriting, DJ & remixing, hip-hop performance and more.

Numerous studies show that music education can boost student performance in many academic areas, as well as increasing motivation for classroom performance and attendance. It encourages students to form close peer groups and foster close adult relationships with teachers. The city will conduct its own study to see the effectiveness of Music Makes Us once its in place.

This program is the product of years of work by a number of partners, including Mayor Dean, Metro Schools, the Music City Music Council and the Nashville Public Education Foundation. Support will continue to come from all sides, including financial support from Nashville's business and musical communities.

There is so much more to share about this project. Check out the page we've created for Music Makes Us to learn all about it.


Music Makes Us

Join us on Friday, September 16, as we make a big announcement. We'll introduce you to Music Makes Us, a new collaborative effort from Mayor Karl Dean, Metro Schools, the Music City Music Council and the Nashville Public Education Foundation. Music Makes Us is an innovative approach to music education developed over the last two years.

We'll be joined by a special guest for the announcement at 9:00 a.m.
You can follow along on the live-blog starting at 8:45 a.m. and get all of the details on this exciting new project.


Several MNPS performance groups performed during the 2011 Keep the Music Playing All-Stars Concert, which was held Tuesday, Feb. 1, at 6:30 p.m, at the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall. This concert was in appreciation to the CMA for providing Metro Schools with instruments and music through its Keep the Music Playing Program that has donated more than 3 million in musical equipment to Metro Schools. The schools invited to perform include: Croft Design Center Full Orchestra Jones Paideia Choir – “Super Stars” DuPont Tyler Middle School Advanced Band Duet – Luke Bryant (country artist and emcee) and Sam Hunter (guitarist from Nashville School of the Arts) Nashville School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble Pearl-Cohn High School Choir Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet School Full Orchestra Special guests who will be in attendance at the concert are: Dr. Jesse Register, Director of Metro Schools Mayor Karl Dean Luke Bryan, Country Music Star Pam Garrett, Executive Director of Nashville Alliance for Public Education Steve Moore, CEO of CMA Alan Valentine, President/CEO of the Nashville Symphony

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