December 20, 2007

Do You Hear What I Hear?

This Thursday morning - instead of bitching about the fact that it's not Friday when it really should be Friday because, come on, this week's gotta end - I give you a few seemingly unrelated facts that will, taken together, hopefully make the point I'd like to leave you with.

Fact #1. My daughter is - as I've recounted here many, many times - obsessed with the local high school marching band. She wants nothing more than to conduct the band or play their drums.

Fact #2. Research into brain development and behavior suggests that the power and influence of music on the mind is nowhere close to being fully understood but the importance of music is continually underestimated. Neurologist Oliver Sachs tackles some of these musical mysteries in his latest book

Fact #3. Music teaches creativity, motor coordination, math, history and listening the very least.

Fact #4. Quickly surfing musical instrument sites proves that band instruments are expensive!

Fact #5. Music education throughout public schools in the United States is slowly being marginalized if not eradicated completely.

All these facts rolled into one giant uber-fact in this, the season of giving, have come together to give me my donation of the year target - Save The Music. This foundation was established to donate musical instruments and rehabilitate music education programs throughout the country's public schools.

Now, certainly not everyone is able to give the way they'd want to, or at all. But I have some questions:

  • What charities do you recommend? What is your cause of choice? What are you most passionate about?
  • If you were given $1000 with no strings attached other than the requirement that you give it all away, what would you do with it?

Posted by Chris at December 20, 2007 7:11 AM

Did you read "Musicophilia" yet? I put it on hold at the library and am waiting for it to arrive... Annnnnnnnnny day now!!

My favorite charity is the American Cancer Society - I have several Survivors in my family, and am so blessed to have them here still. My grandpa kicked cancer's ass over 20 years ago, and my cousin defied the 95% mortality rate and has been cancer free for several years as well. I prefer to donate not just money, but time - the Relay for Life is always an amazing experience.

$1000 to charity... Definitely some to ACS, and probably some to my daughter's school. It's a nice school, but they are lacking in many areas because budget stuff. I would like them to be able to provide for the kids....

Posted by: Sarah at December 20, 2007 7:46 AM

Save the Music is a great one. It makes me sad to see music programs being cut at our public schools. Another great place to donate is St. Judes. Helping sick can you go wrong.

Posted by: madmom at December 20, 2007 8:12 AM

Love this idea.

I wanted to be in band but we could never have afforded it.

Personally we're a big supporter of Toys for Tots. There is nothing better than filling up a few carts of toys that you know are going to make a kid smile.

Posted by: Jenny at December 20, 2007 8:19 AM

I would give it to HFBI. Hooker for Breast Implants.

You know the old addage, Give a hooker 50 bucks and she eats for a day, but give her implants and she can support herself for life.

Seriously though,

I would donate the money to Children of slain soldier's or to Children of slain Police officers. I know there are decent charities out there that support this cause.,

Posted by: william at December 20, 2007 8:27 AM

I'm a big fan of Donor's Choose. My mom is a public school teacher and this charity really helps those in lower income schools make a difference for their kids. They help indivdual teachers with small grants for specific projects. You can even search by subject. Here are the results for a search on "music":
With $1000 I'd probably split it 1/2 and 1/2 with my daughter's school and Donor's choose.

Posted by: tulip at December 20, 2007 8:33 AM

I love Save the Music too and give them them every year. I also support "Renew Our Music" (formerly New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund)....they help NOLA musicians who lost their instruments , their homes, their venues in the flood ......there is no NOLA without the music!

Another organization I give a lot of support to is Music Rising, which also helps out Gulf Coast musicians.

And my other favorite is "Instruments a Comin'", through the Tipitina's foundation- raises awareness of public music education, and provides material support for school music programs.

Posted by: Lisa at December 20, 2007 8:37 AM

Save the Music is a great cause. My son, who is in first grade in public school, has music class for exactly 24 minutes a week. Sad.

I'd split my thousand between the ASPCA, and Child Health Investment Partnership (a local charity that provides health care services to medically underserved children up to age six).

Posted by: Jeff St Real at December 20, 2007 8:52 AM

Although it is not even remotely unusual or unknown, I would donate my money to the American Diabetes Association. Given that my father passed away due to diabetes complications, it is a cause near and dear to my heart.

Posted by: Michelle at December 20, 2007 8:56 AM

I do a ton of volunteering with the Arthritis Foundation. Not many people realize what a havoc arthritis and arthritis-related diseases can have. I also regularly support the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association. Both hit home close with my family. I guess with $1000 I would split it between those organizations.

I wish I had that money to give!

Posted by: Arwen at December 20, 2007 9:02 AM

I would give $1000 to the local soup kitchen here that was shut down by our city because the building they were in was in such bad shape. They are fundrising to get into another place and start serving meals again. They served a lot people, and I can not believe that our city shut them down without a plan to relocate them.

Posted by: linda at December 20, 2007 9:04 AM

You were very good at sucking me in. Damn you. I once told my mom that music was like a drug to me and then went on to pontificate for about 3 minutes. She looked horrified by the end so I never said anything to her, or anyone else, about music's possession of my soul. But I'll say it here. Music pwns me.

Posted by: Poppy at December 20, 2007 9:07 AM

Actually every year, our small company as a whole gives away a large chunk of money to local community organizations ($25-30k). We sit around on Feb 14th and discuss which orgs to give to. We usually give the most to the biggest in our community which is a huge food pantry that give thousands of lbs of food to other non profit orgs including an organization that one of my coworkers started and has been recognized nationally - Mother Hubbard's Cupboard. For a small community, there are a lot of non profits in town that help the sick and needy. This is a fairly liberal town (think Madison WI or Ann Arbor MI). Additionally, I have found that it is great to give globally but many times in your own community, you can make a huge difference by seeking out orgs that are desperately in need.

There are two places I give the most money to and feel the strongest about, those are the local Humane Society and Wild Care Inc (this is local org that helps wild animals that have been injured - we have bought at least 4 birds and a rabbit maimed by our dogs there. It is a great thing.) I love animals and breaks my heart to see people abusive & cruel to them. On that note we were going to the local Humane Society to look at dogs (before we bought out 2nd dog from there) and we watched a man bring his clearly elderly dog in and drop the dog off like a sack of clothes at Goodwill. We were floored and saddened by this and still talk about it to this day. I could not imagine - our dogs are part of the family. We often refer to our family of five. SO that is where I generally give my money each year.

Posted by: Christina at December 20, 2007 9:18 AM

I think I heard fo them after Katrina trying to put music programs back in schools along the gulf coast that lost them because of budget cuts.

You don't have to convince me of the value of music. I purposefully listen to classical or jazz on the way to drop my daughter at school and expose her to as much music as possible, including DVD musicals.

As a current guitar player in a band and a former trumpet player, I can tell you it's worth it.

My mom's cousin's daughter ( I have no idea about that relationship name ) teaches piano to children. I'm hoping to get my little girl in with her in the near future.


Posted by: Edge at December 20, 2007 10:12 AM

I was in B&N yesterday doing the last (I swear it's the last. ALL DONE!!!) of my Christmas shopping and they had a donation program where you could purchase a book for a nominal amount and it would be donated to needy children. That one struck a chord with me. I gave til it hurt. But oh, the pain felt so good. My children love to read. I love to read. I cannot imagine a life where books were an extravagence.

Posted by: SassyPants at December 20, 2007 10:15 AM

As an ex-marching band geek - green polyester uniforms! cowboy hats! gold braided sashes! - I am all for keeping the music alive. Everyone should march in formation whilst playing an instrument at least once in their life.

During the holiday season, my family adopts a needy family. Knowing that the money you're spending will make someone's Christmas happy and memorable, perhaps even give them a worry-free day or two, gives the holiday new meaning.

Posted by: GreenCanary at December 20, 2007 10:41 AM

So tough. I do give some money away, albeit not enough, but sometimes I hate doing it because I know that my money is not finding the cure for a disease, but rather affording the association to do more mailouts and publicity to incite larger donations than my own.

That said, I try to give so organizations that help the poor such as Centraide or Salvation Army or local foodbanks and soup kitchens.

Posted by: Heather at December 20, 2007 11:06 AM

Hurray for Save the Music! It is one of my favorite charities. I tend to give to NARAL (pro-choice advocacy group) and the local rape/abuse crisis centers. On the music track - and please no laughing because it is going to be AWESOME once they're up and running - Chris Kirkpatrick (omgluv) is starting a foundation to provide underprivileged children with music scholarships. I think for now it's going to be in his hometown? Not sure. I think maybe he's just in the process of starting it up. At any rate, it will be an awesome place to give.

I saw someone say a bit about music in schools in the Gulf. There's that foundation or something for N.O. musicians, right? Those guys were on Studio 60 last year...?

Music is so vital. The school district I grew up in was and still is poorer than dirt. I think they might have a music program still but I'm not entirely sure. But the opportunities were few, the instruments were very old and should've been replaced and good teachers? Forget about it. If I ever get rich and famous, I plan on endowing a music program there. Because those kids need it.

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at December 20, 2007 11:12 AM

Here's to Music! My son's a band geek and is loving it. I think schools would find higher test scores if as much money and focus was funneled into the arts as it is into athletics.

If you have 20 minutes here's a great video about education and creativity:

If I had a $1000 I would donate half of it to our local food bank.

I would donate the other half to Easter Seals. My sister was born premature and as a result had a number of physical disabilities. They worked with her for years doing physical therapy with great results.

Posted by: wendy at December 20, 2007 11:15 AM

With 14 cats, you guess??!! *grin* We actually donate on a monthly basis to the Siamese Rescue Center and have donated to Rikki's Refuge, who has a cat I helped back in 98/99 that had gotten run over. He was my first real rescue and cost me over 700.00. Since then, I've rescued a few more, but the SRC is the only place I truly love funding since I love the Siamese.

I have also donated to various organizations such as the Humane Society and PETA, along with some wildlife organizations.

Posted by: been there, done that at December 20, 2007 11:26 AM

My husband and I were just talking about this because of the bank in Fargo that gave $1000 to each of its employees with just this purpose. Did you hear about that?

It would be so hard to choose, I think -- there are so many needs, and so many worthy people trying to meet them. It's not very creative of us, I suppose, but our own giving goes mostly to our church. People call the church when they've exhausted local government programs and food shelves, which can only do so much for each family because their need base is so large.

Posted by: Julie at December 20, 2007 11:29 AM

I come from a family of musicians and math geeks. Some either or, most both. I fully and whole heartedly agree with what you've said here -- music is so important not just for your creativity and your soul -- but for unlocking pattern recognition, memorization and comprehension.

Both of my boys play instruments and you're right, lessons and equipment is crazy expensive. Depending on what you're looking for though, you might be able to find what you need on Craigslist. My boyfriend is in a band and we see see instruments & drum sets for sale on the bulletin board all the time.

I don't know that I'd give to a charity, because I've done pro bono work for charities, and I've seen a lot of wasted money in administration and marketing. I prefer to give direct -- I just bought a painting from a local artist, I bring food to food drives, I give a $10 bill to a guy on the street.

If I had $1000 to give away? I'd keep doing what I've been doing. Maybe give half to my boyfriend for a deposit on a new drum set. (The set he has are an old jazz set from 1968 -- cool but wearing down.)

Your daughter loves the local high school marching band? I'm sure they could use some money for travel, uniforms and equipment.

Posted by: krystyn at December 20, 2007 12:07 PM

Oops. Meant to hit preview, not post.

"lessons and equipment ARE crazy expensive"

"My boyfriend is in a band and we see see instruments & drum sets for sale on the bulletin board AT HIS PRACTICE SPACE all the time."


Posted by: krystyn at December 20, 2007 12:08 PM

We have a specific fund at our church for both church members and community members in need. The office gives out grocery store gift cards and that sort of thing. I'd likely give a few hundred to that, a bunch to Heifer International (thanks to Beth for linking to that!) and the rest to someone in particular, like years ago my friend's mum, who's a single mum, had her car break down and didn't have the money for repairs, and I just anonymously dropped a few hundred bucks in her mailbox. Best.Feeling.Ever.

Posted by: Heather at December 20, 2007 12:12 PM

I don't have a "favorite" charity. We give a tiny bit of money each year and we choose a charity based on what's going on in the world.
This year, we chose to give money to the local Red Cross, because incase you didn't know, most of Western Washington is flooded. I mean floodED. I'm in Seattle proper and there are two apartment buildings just next to me that are complete losses not to mention the entire communities wiped out just south of me.
Anyway, we also gave money to something very specific,, because my 20 month-old daughter has just been diagnosed with eosiniophilic disorder.
And we give gifts to our family every year to Heifer International.

Posted by: Jessica at December 20, 2007 12:43 PM

My usual causes are AIDS Walk in Long Beach (lots of affected folks, not a lot of money versus the big ol' walk in LA) and sending stuff to the troops. And when I can afford it, I also try to gift with RED products and when my websites makes enough money, I send them to Thai Red Cross. Save the Music is definitely something I want to support, but I have a lot of causes already. Heh.

For $1000, I'd invest that and start a trust, as I plan to do so when I grow up, to give it all causes related to AIDS, supporting the troops, and saving the music. :)

Posted by: oakley at December 20, 2007 12:56 PM

My son also loves music and will be receiving a little piano for Christmas this year. Although my husband and I don't play any musical instruments, we are very happy to encourage our son's interests.

As for charities, we donate a percentage of our earnings to our church, which then uses ALL OF THE MONEY for good. And not just for other members of the church! The donated money is used locally and around the globe. My church is continually the first one on site after major catastrophes like Katrina and the tsunami. It makes my heart feel good to know that because I am blessed, I can share that with others who are in need.

If I had $1000, what would I do? I would give it to my church, knowing that I can trust they will use it in a way that I can feel good about.

Happy Holiday!

Posted by: Isabel at December 20, 2007 2:11 PM

I like to do the giving tree at our church, or Toys for Tots.

If I had $1,000 I would donate some of it to our local humane society. They deal with a lot of cruelty cases (some people just suck) and don't get a lot of money. The rest I'd probably donate to our local Salvation Army's food bank.

Posted by: Leah at December 20, 2007 3:01 PM

My kids all love music. Recently we managed to buy a good late model piano at an auction... for $25! We were very excited.

The charity I am most fond of is heifer international. The provide breeding and milking animals (species appropriate to the region) to poor families. The animals are already bred and the deal is a pay it forward kind of arrangement - they have to give one female offspring to somebody else, and so on. That is where I would give the free grand, it would pay for a water buffalo or two.

Posted by: OddMix at December 20, 2007 3:44 PM

I would give it all to the victory junction gang camp...because i believe strongly in what they are doing for children!!!

I believe strongly in their camp....and also animal I might actually split it betwix the two.

Posted by: Amy at December 20, 2007 4:36 PM

I'm a fan of Save The Music as well, but I also like FOCOS. ( I like the fact that this African, now American, doctor (who had been helped in his youth by an American) goes back to his African country to perform free surgeries on children who have severe scoliosis.

Oh, and I guess I'm delurking here. HI! I'm a friend of Sarah and the Squad's.

Posted by: Lori at December 20, 2007 7:00 PM

I would probably give it to either The Smile Train which donates free surgical procedures to correct maxillo-cranial birth defects in underprivileged kids. the pediatric cancer camp (where I teach art and my husband used to be a counselor) which is free to all potential campers AND THEIR SIBLINGS.

Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen at December 20, 2007 7:21 PM

I'd give it to the local PTA, for sure.

Posted by: Mr Lady at December 20, 2007 9:02 PM

I'm passionate about the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the Cystic Fibrosis foundation and the Autism foundation. That's definitely who I would give the $1000 to. I'd probably divide it between those 3.

And on a sort of related note, I took an experimental psychology class last spring. I conducted an experiment on music and memory - I had the test subjects divided into two groups. One read a story and took a test on the story while listening to music, and the other group didn't. I thought that the group that listened to the music would remember details from the story better, but it turned out to be the opposite, although not by a huge margin. Anyway, just thought I'd throw that in and toot my own horn a little :)

Posted by: Stephanie at December 20, 2007 9:46 PM

my charity of choice would be a women's shelter, and i would give the one thousand dollars to someone random on the street who looks like they really need it and are struggling to make ends meet.

Posted by: Aurelia at December 20, 2007 11:41 PM

Ohhh I love Save The Music. My favorite is Project Angel Heart, which is a non-profit in Denver that makes and delivers meals every day to AIDs patients who have gotten too sick to leave the house. I donate my time there as well as money. Also Make a Wish is another favorite of mine. If I had $1000 this time of year I'd go and but coats and give them to homeless on the street. It's dam cold here.

Posted by: Phoenix at December 21, 2007 2:42 AM

1. We give to the MS Society, Cancer research, March of Dimes, and sometimes the Red Cross.

2. I would give it to a needy family through the Hope for the Holidays program at a local radio station. It's unparalleled.

Two more things. 1) I did my senior thesis in writing on the healing effects of music when I was in high school. I got an A. I believe in it. 2) A few years ago I walked into my old elementary school and handed them my old trombone. I played for 8 years and loved it. I'm certain it is used by kids today and that's awesome.

Posted by: Brad at December 21, 2007 12:56 PM

I have several charities that I support. My favorite is my local elementary school library. I'd donate the money for books. The budgets never seem big enough to keep up.

The charities that I support the most are Breast Cancer research, Alzheimer's Association, PTA, and the Ronald McDonald House in Denver.

My recent donation is supporting Heifer International. I bought two shares of a water buffalo. This charity appeals to me because your giving someone an animal to help their family and the means to dramatically improve their lives.

Posted by: Diane at December 22, 2007 4:37 PM

I added a charity section to my blog with the redesign and the ones I added were: ADA, Alliance for Climate Protection, Endometriosis Association, March of Dimes, One, and WWF. But I should add Save The Music too. They rock.

I also gave many people Terrapasses this year as their gifts.

Posted by: Aimee Greeblemonkey at December 28, 2007 9:29 PM