School District connected with the
NAMM Foundation, it had no instruments or music teachers, according to
Superintendent Linda Wagner, Ed.D.
Now, between NAMM’s annual Day of
Service, donations, and help with curriculum development, the 18,500-stu-
dent district has 13 music teachers and
assorted ensembles, including choirs,
orchestras, and mariachi bands.
This year’s Day of Service was on Jan.
17 — two days before the NAMM Show
began. NAMM shuttled volunteers
to Patrick Henry Elementary School,
where a musical presentation started
things off. Then fifth- and sixth-grade
students broke into four groups and,
joined by NAMM volunteers, rotated
through 30-minute music-making sessions devoted to drums, ukulele, guitar,
and singing and movement. The morning culminated with an assembly and
giant dance party.
“You’ve got 90 kids who have
probably never played a guitar before
or never played a ukulele before or
never knew they could dance,”
Luehrsen said. “There’s a lot of
excitement and pure joy going on
through the whole Day of Service.”
Most of NAMM’s volunteers are
CEOs or similarly high-level leaders of
music-product companies who relish
the opportunity to work directly with
kids for a day rather than sitting behind
their desks or in the boardroom. Many of
them return for the Day of Service each
year; this year, there were 35 of them.
“We’re also a means for them to come
100,000-plus-attendee show has been
together as a community,” Luehrsen
said. “They’re all competing brands for
the most part, but it doesn’t matter what
label’s on the guitar that day. It’s about
creating the education experience.”
Luehrsen came up with the Day of
Service in 2014, after a phone call from
the mayor of Anaheim. He explained
that the newly appointed Wagner
wanted to resurrect its elementary-
school music programs, and asked
for donations from NAMM — whose
held in the destination since 1977.
Luehrsen told him that gear and mate-
rials would only get the district so far
in its goals.
“The district likes to say that they
asked for a fish but we taught them how
to fish,” Luehrsen said. “They came to
us asking for specific requests to fill
empty instrument closets. We said, let’s
look at this differently and teach you
Fighting for Music
Launched in 2006, the NAMM
Foundation is a nonprofit partly
supported by NAMM and its
10,300 members. In addition to
the annual Day of Service at the
NAMM Show in Ahaheim, the
foundation and NAMM both offer
a slew of programs and initiatives focused on advocating for
Perhaps the biggest event aimed
at that goal is NAMM’s annual
Music Education Advocacy D.C.
Fly-In each May. Scheduled this
year for May 22–25, the four-day
meeting starts with an optional
day of service in Washington,
D.C., public schools similar to the
NAMM Show’s Day of Service.
From there, the Fly-In includes
training for NAMM members
from policy experts — and then a
visit with members of Congress
on Capitol Hill to make their case.
Song and Dance At the heart of the NAMM
Foundation’s annual Day of Service is the
lasting impact it can have on the students.
‘The ability to have music when you’re a
kid, it’s a confidence booster,’ said Arielle
Howell, one of 35 Day of Service volunteers
this year. ‘It’s inspiring for kids to learn in
a school environment.’