The COVID-19 pandemic has affected so many members of the music community, but the Guitar Center Music Foundation (GCMF), a non-profit dedicated to helping support musicians and music education programs, was able to make a significant mark in keeping the music going across the country by providing monetary assistance to over 200 musicians and instruments and equipment grants to 33 music programs in 2020 thanks to donations from the music community.
In part due to the generous support from various sponsors, MI manufacturers and other allies, the GCMF was able to deliver over 3,500 instruments to these programs in need, affecting the musical lives of thousands of musicians and music students alike during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Individuals and MI companies who were key sponsors in 2020 include: Jonathan Thomas (Cordoba Guild), John Geiger (Zildjian / Vic Firth), Brian LeVan (Remo), Andy Strayer (Mapex) and donations from Guitar Center’s Private Brands. Additionally, Drum Workshop Inc. (DW) and the Gibson Foundation provided generous in-kind donations of gear to support instrument grants that were key to supporting the GCMF’s music education initiatives.
Don Lombardi – who serves on the GCMF Board of Directors, in addition to being founder of Drum Workshop Inc. and CEO of DrumChannel.com – noted, “The Guitar Center Music Foundation is a way we can all give back to the music community so future generations can experience what has been so important to all of us, the joy of making music."
One music program that has benefited from the GCMF’s grants in 2020 was Jordan High School in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA. Jordan High School serves nearly 2,000 students in grades 9-12. Jordan High, along with Watts, has a long history of musical excellence and is known for its drumline and often places numerous students in the all-city honors marching band that performs at the Rose parade every year – except 2020, with the cancellation of the parade. For over half a century Jordan High School Music Department has stayed operational without any outside support or funding. But in 2020, the program was anticipating difficulties with transitioning to distance learning for its young musicians on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a grant from GCMF, Jordan High received keyboard setups, drumsticks and practice pads, soprano recorders and recorder method books for the distance program as well as new instruments for their swing/jazz band, marching band, orchestra, drumline and other gear that needed to be replaced.
Herbert McMullen, Band and Choral Director at Jordan High School, remarks, “The Guitar Center Music Foundation instrument grant helped my students at Jordan High School continue their music instruction while distance learning, and we are grateful for the contribution, as we are using music to keep our kids inspired and encouraged during these times.”
Additionally, GCMF implemented several other initiatives involving industry outreach and advocacy. Several events dubbed “Relief 4 Musicians” were the GCMF’s first-ever streaming event series fundraiser, taking place last summer. These online events were free for viewers with an opportunity to make donations as well as bid on collectible artist-signed items with 100 percent of the funds collected going to support musicians in need and struggling music education and music therapy programs. Each event featured conversations with artists such as percussion legend Sheila E., iconic drummer Russ Kunkel, singer-songwriter Jessica Lynn, and blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa. Other supporters who contributed to the Relief 4 Musicians program included renowned drummer John Robinson and acclaimed drummer and photographer Rob Shanahan.
“At the Guitar Center Company, we believe that making music has the power to improve lives, soothe the soul and empower creativity,” said Ron Japinga, Guitar Center CEO and a member of the GCMF Board of Directors. “Unfortunately, access to musical instruments and gear is not available to everyone, but in 2020, with the help of our friends in the industry, we were able to provide more than 3,500 musical instruments to over 30 schools and music therapy programs nationwide. We are thankful to our partners and those who donate to the Guitar Center Music Foundation efforts. We look forward to our continued efforts to assure equal access to musical instruments and music education is available to anyone who wants to make music.”
For more information on how your business can make an in-kind donation to the Guitar Center Music Foundation or help with its efforts in 2021 and beyond, email [email protected]
For music programs that would like for more information regarding the Guitar Center Music Foundation’s instrument grants, visit guitarcenterfoundation.