Joy of Music School

Music Notes – Newsletter

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The Perfect Start to Your Holidays


The word “joy” is one we see a lot in the holiday season. It shows up on everything from greeting cards to wrapping paper to festive yuletide sweaters.

One way to be certain your holidays begin with a burst of actual joy: attending the Joy of Music School’s annual Holiday Sparkles & Spirits, a spectacular evening of food and drink, live and silent auctions, and heartwarming performances by our talented students.

This year’s Holiday Sparkles & Spirits is Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m. The venue: Cherokee Country Club’s magnificent ballroom. Tickets are $125.

Among the gifts you’ll find in our live and silent auctions this year: items autographed by Peyton Manning, including a Super Bowl Jersey, 24 Swarovski animal figurines and a display case, a Raymond Valley Winery barrel wine dispenser, collectible wines, many elegant jewelry pieces, and men’s and women’s Vols basketball tickets, with parking.

Holiday Sparkles & Spirits is our biggest and most important fundraiser of the year. So come and find the perfect items for your holiday shopping list—and, in supporting our free music lessons and instruments for Knoxville youth, begin to feel the true joy of the season!

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Styx Steps Up


The iconic rock band Styx (“Lady,” “Come Sail Away,” “Babe,” “Mr. Roboto”) has a treasured place in pop music history. Still touring and performing, they recently landed in Knoxville and did a very special favor for the Joy of Music School.

The group’s charitable arm, Rock to the Rescue, which supports music education, health and well-being, disaster relief, and animal welfare, reached out to us with an offer. If we provided volunteers to collect funds from attendees at Styx’s Tennessee Valley Fair concert, then JoMS would receive a generous portion of the revenue.

Several good people jumped into action, including JoMS parent Nancy Evans, volunteer teachers John Caldwell and Tony Evans, Frank and Enzo Graffeo and a lovely person named Ginger who heard about our need for help collecting funds while listening to 106.1 The River.

Many thanks to Kevin Compton of Rock to the Rescue for getting us involved. We raised $980 for our music programs as the sun was setting over the packed Tennessee Valley Fair Amphitheater! Domo arigato, Styx!


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Letter From The Executive Director

Francis Graffeo

Francis Graffeo

When families apply for admission, we request a statement from every child. “Why do you want to study music at the Joy of Music School?” we ask them. We tell the kids to answer either with words or in a drawing, or both.

When I go through their replies it’s always revealing, often emotional, and, at times, hilarious. The recurring theme is eager anticipation and a child’s vision of themselves with music in their lives. Most of our kids have never had a music lesson. They’ve never had an individual teacher working with them every week. They’ve always held music as something they love, and they want more of it. They are not sure what to expect, but they know they want it.

The range of responses is astounding. One student, age 13, drew an elaborate picture of a band on a stage, labeling it “Playing worship music at Madison Square Garden.” Another, 14, wrote: “I am taking voice to get over my stage fright. I am taking piano to better myself with note names and all of the other musical terms.” An 8-year-old drew a long, sturdy grand piano, with strong legs and wheels, a piano bench and a simple human figure with a smiling face. He drew a prominent curving arrow pointing at the smiling face, with the label “Me.”

There are hundreds of student statements in our files. Each represents potential, anticipation and a vision of one’s future self through music. We, as stewards of these dreams, are inspired to bring reality to those visions, and to expand on them whenever possible. It’s truly a privilege and a joyous responsibility.






Francis Graffeo

Executive Director


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Spreading our Message


Wait– was that a concrete truck bearing the Joy of Music School logo you just saw driving past?

Your eyes do not deceive! That’s a Harrison Construction Co. truck driven by Arthur Paquin. Arthur is a longtime supporter of the School who asked his company to put our logo — along with a helpful “Please support” — on the side of his truck.

Harrison Construction starting adding logos for community service organizations to its trucks back in the 1980s, says Doug Brown, vice president of concrete operations. “Support your local law enforcement, the fire department, Mothers Against Drunk Driving….We started getting good feedback and we’ve done it ever since.”

Harrison Construction has a total of 75 trucks and around 50 of them have a charitable logo of some sort, Doug says.

Arthur’s truck is a 2016 Mack concrete truck with a 10-yard mixer. Arthur is based in Alcoa, but he covers upwards of 16 counties. That means he’ll be spreading our good message — and concrete, of course — throughout East Tennessee.

Many thanks to Arthur, Doug and Harrison Construction!


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Music in the Club


Bart McFadden visited the Joy of Music School not long ago and was impressed by what he saw.

We’re especially happy about that because Bart is the new president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley, an organization that’s near to our hearts.

The Joy of Music School—which was founded in a Boys & Girls Club building!—teaches several music classes at two Knoxville Boys & Girls Club sites and a Boys & Girls Club program at Dogwood Elementary School. The classes are led by Will Carter and Anthony Hussey, and they include introduction to music, hand drumming and the basic elements of music.

Julie Carter, our director of music education, says we teach music to more than 150 kids affiliated with Boys & Girls Clubs.

Our total outreach program, which includes choir director Jessie Compton and brings lessons to a few other after-school venues, reaches hundreds children annually.

“Having a music experience is just so important,” says Bart, whose mother taught music at a Boys & Girls Club when he was growing up in Johnson City. “You just never know when you’re going to find a kid who has a real talent for it. It can catapult them to successes they never could have imagined.”

We couldn’t agree more.


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Our Sparkly Marketing

Meaghan Roland of Pilot Flying J

Meaghan Roland of Pilot Flying J

You can’t pull off an event like our annual Holiday Sparkles & Spirits without a lot of help from a lot of people. Some contributions are obvious, others less so.

One of those highly valuable (and not so readily apparent) helpers is Meaghan Roland, the lead graphic designer in the marketing department of Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J.

For the past couple of years, Meaghan has created the marketing material for our big fundraiser. These include the eye-catching save-the-date postcard, the beautiful poster pictured here, an RSVP card and an invitation.

“I was trying to show the festive nature of the event,” Meaghan says, explaining her design approach for this year’s material. “You want to strike a balance between fun and informative.”

Meaghan was introduced to the School by Tim Purcell, Pilot Flying J’s director of enterprise development and Joy of Music School board member. It was a quick and happy fit. “I grew up playing music, so I know it can grow an individual mentally and can create lasting relationships,” Meaghan says. “It’s been great to become acquainted with a few individuals at the Joy of Music School. Working with them has definitely been a humbling experience, hearing and reading about the good they do in East Tennessee.”

Thanks Meaghan! We hope to see you Dec. 6 at the Cherokee Country Club for the 2016 Holiday Sparkles & Spirits.



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