CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In a ceremony held Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin and West Virginia Division of Culture and History Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith were honored with the SupportMusic Award by the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, the National Association of Music Merchants and the National Association for Music Education for their commitment to music education.
Arts education is often targeted when funds must be cut. Manchin praised the Save the Music Foundation for its "extraordinary work [...] in making sure West Virginia schools have the resources to provide music education to our kids."
To date, the foundation has given $1.05 million in grants for music education programs at 35 schools in 30 of West Virginia's 55 counties. The goal is to fund schools in all 55 counties.
Reid-Smith said, "West Virginia is on course to provide music instruments to every qualified elementary and middle school in our state."
At the ceremony, students from Shepherdstown Middle School's jazz ensemble performed, along with Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, "A Thousand Miles" singer/songwriter Vanessa Carlton and jazz guitarist/former New York Yankee Bernie Williams. The school is one that has benefited from a Save the Music grant.
"VH1 Save The Music Foundation understands the importance of music education in West Virginia's schools, and I greatly appreciate its past and future efforts to bring new instruments to students and help music programs grow," Rockefeller said. "And we can see the results with the students I met with today from the Shepherdstown Middle School Jazz Band, which received instruments from the organization and has since won the state jazz band competition."
Smith personally knows the importance of music programs in public schools. He said were it not for such programs when he was a kid, he would not be where he is today. He'll talk more about his own musical upbringing and the importance of music education in an exclusive interview in the FlipSide section of this week's Saturday Gazette-Mail.
For more on the VH1 Save the Music Foundation or to make a donation to the program, visit www.vh1savethemusic.com.