The NAMM Foundation Grantee Spotlight: Save The Music

Elizabeth Dale

Save The Music is one of 23 music-making programs that received grants from The NAMM Foundation in 2022. Since 1994, NAMM and The NAMM Foundation, through the generous support of NAMM members and donors, have provided $201 million to music-making organizations.

Save The Music is celebrating 25 years of “delivering equitable access to music education for millions of students nationwide.” The non-profit helps students, schools, and communities reach their full potential through the power of making music by donating instruments and music technology, providing support services for educators, and advocating for music education.

Save the Music - 25th Anniversary Promo

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The organization was founded in 1997 by MTV executive John Sykes as the VH1 Save The Music Foundation after he completed a “principal for a day” program at a Brooklyn, New York school and discovered that the music program was at risk. During the non-profit’s first year, it aided in the restoration of music programs in Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and New York City. Building on this early success, in 1999, Save The Music, with the support of NAMM, began speaking with stakeholders at the federal level to advocate for music education at a national level.

Save the Music in New Orleans: Student Voices

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Today, Save The Music partners with public school districts to donate grants in its three-pronged approach to increase access to music education.

Intro to Music Grant (Grades PreK–5)
This grant includes everything a music teacher needs to provide students with sequential standards-based general music instruction focused on active music-making and engagement. In addition, the grant recipients receive $22,000 worth of developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant instruments and resources, including a digital piano, acoustic guitar, Orff Instruments, world drums, recorders, hand-held percussion, Boomwhackers, a classroom set of ukuleles, method books, and program support for ten years.

Core Instrumental Programs (Grades 3–8)
This grant program aids schools as they work to restore their band, strings, or mariachi programs. Recipients of this grant receive $61,000 in musical instruments, music stands, method books, and program services. Prospective school districts must have a budget and commit to funding certified music teachers’ salaries, schedule instrumental music classes during the school day, and budget for maintenance and supplies to qualify for the grant. Once partnered, Save The Music remains committed to supporting grant recipients until instrumental music is in place at every school within the district.

J Dilla Music Tech Grant (Grades 9-12)
Named in recognition of the contributions of hip-hop producer J Dilla, this grant focuses on “delivering the future of music learning through innovative tech tools and curriculum.” The goal is to nurture students’ inner creativity and confidence by teaching them the fundamentals of electronic music creation, recording, and production.

J Dilla Music Tech Grant

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Reflecting on the grants provided by The NAMM Foundation, Jaclyn Rudderow, the Senior Director of School Programs at Save The Music Foundation, said, “Now more than ever, music and arts education programs are vital to students. Coming out of the pandemic, students are still struggling socially and emotionally. Save The Music teachers across the country consistently share that their students are carrying trauma and stress from the pandemic and it is taking time to get back to the energy they had with their students before COVID. Trusting that music classrooms are that safe space for students to express themselves and feel a sense of belonging, our STM music teachers are connecting with their students and building back that joyful energy note by note.

The grant from the NAMM Foundation supports Save The Music programs in Los Angeles, where we provide several LAUSD middle schools comprehensive grants of band and mariachi instruments to ensure all students can participate in music. These violins, flutes, and trombones are the key to breaking students out of their shells and immersing them in the experience of music-making with their peers.”

For 25 years, Save The Music has addressed the systemic inequities in music education by investing in culturally rich communities across the U.S. Since its inception, the organization has donated nearly $70 million worth of instruments and technology to over 2,500 schools - impacting millions of students' lives in hundreds of communities natonwide. For more information on Save The Music, please visit

Donations to The NAMM Foundation and support its mission to advance active participation in music-making across the lifespan. To learn more, please visit, and to review the entire list of the 2022 grantees, please visit