Each year, art and music programs across the country are eliminated from public education in order to prioritize “academic essential” subjects such as math, reading and science. As school districts face budget shortfalls, funding for art and music often shoots to the top of the ‘cuts’ list. Slashing these programs can be detrimental to students’ self-confidence as brilliant, artistic children can fall behind when subjects that stimulate their creativity are taken away. Fortunately, Austin-based nonprofit, Grounded in Music has worked tirelessly over the past ten years to provide music-based, instructional programs to local underprivileged youths.
Launched in 2007, Grounded in Music’s (GIM) sole mission is to leverage the power of music to transform young lives by creating self-confidence, opportunity and hope through Austin’s Boys and Girls Club system. The organization works with underprivileged youth to expose kids to music starting in grade four providing music instruction, exposure to nationally known musicians, concerts, backstage passes and scholarships.
Grounded in Music is not technically a music school. Their goal is not to turn out the next ‘best’ guitarist but instead use music as a tool to create opportunity and self-confidence to transform the lives of the kids in the program.
“In 2007, we made a promise to ourselves,” states GIM Founder, Joe Stallone. “We would do whatever we needed to make the program work for three years…and we felt lucky just to make it three.”
Now, in its tenth year, Grounded in Music shows no signs of slowing down. “It has really been an incredible journey,” admits Stallone. “We literally started with nothing. We even wrote personal checks to pay the instructors in the first year. Within a few years, we had an amazing group of instructors, we brought kids to Stubbs, Bass Concert Hall and the Erwin Center. Amazingly enough – with the support of some really great people like Patty Griffin, Jack Ingram and Gina Fant-Sanez – we built a music studio for our kids.”
Grounded in Music has grown significantly since 2007 and now currently serves three Boys and Girls Club locations (and hopefully five by this Fall) throughout Austin including Bertha Saddler Means Young Women’s Leadership Academy, San Juan Diego and Chalmers Courts Housing Authority. The nonprofit provides services to 30 – 40 students per session and offers Fall, Spring and Summer sessions. The organization serves many more students through concerts, soundcheck programs, meet-and-greets and other strategic partnerships. GIM also provides services to other locations such as BCG-East-Booker T. Washington Housing Authority and the Meadowbrook Housing Authority, who with GIM’s partnership were able to acquire a $10,000 grant to purchase gear for their recording studio. Grounded in Music is also excited to expand its outreach in Summer 2017 with a new Studio Technology Program located in the Henry Flores Learning Center at the HACA Meadowbrook apartments.
“Grounded is offering seven teaching sessions per week where students have time individually to connect with some of Austin’s working professional musicians,” said Michael Longoria, Grounded in Music’s Program Director. “In these individual lessons kids receive positive mentorship and role models to also help anchor the children’s weekly routines. We have seen kids grow from having no previous relation to music to making it to All-Star Band students. We are serving as a feeder to middle school and high school band programs where kids will enter with previous skills acquired through time with GIM instructors.”
Stallone has witnessed the transformation in many of the program’s youths. “Kids that start with no music background literally end up cornering me and demanding that I shop them a record deal. If the kids in our program can use music to develop self-confidence and a positive outlook on life then we feel they can direct that towards anything they do in life,” states Stallone.
Grounded in Music will celebrate its 10 Year Anniversary Benefit on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 featuring The Peterson Brothers and Suzanna Choffel at the Gibson Brands Showroom located at 3601 S. Congress Ave. Suite G400, Austin, Texas 78704.
The evening will be hosted by musician/songwriter Kathy Valentine, an Austin Music Hall of Fame inductee and member of the iconic band the Go-Go’s. There will be a VIP pre-show reception beginning at 5:30 p.m. for sponsors, press and VIPs. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and music will kick off at 7:15 p.m. with a performance by the Grounded in Music students. The event is open to the public. Tickets are $45 per person and include bites and beverages, as well as a silent auction. Sponsors for the event will be announced shortly.
The benefit will help raise needed funds for the organization and event proceeds will be used to purchase musical instruments for underprivileged youth, provide education in musicianship and recording arts, teach music theory and offer music- related opportunities outside of performance.
To purchase tickets, please go to:
For more information about Grounded in Music, please visit: http://www.groundedinmusic.net.