Joy of Music School

Music Notes – Newsletter

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Experience The Joy of Music Firsthand!

Here’s your chance to be part of something really special. It’s free, it’s fun—and there’s food!

It’s the annual Joy of Music School Spring Recital, Saturday May 9, at 2 p.m. All are welcome at First Christian Church, 211 W. Fifth Avenue in Knoxville.

You’ll be amazed by the spirit and talent of our dedicated students. Sixty-five of our kids will be performing. They’ll play the drums, all manner of strings, the piano, and they’ll sing. This year we’ll even have a rock group that is sure to get your toes tapping.

And be sure to stick around afterward for delicious barbecue. The food will be donated by Joy of Music School board members and will be cooked by them and church members. We really, truly hope to see you there!

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A Round of Applause for our Recital Sponsor


Along with proud family members, friends and teachers, the students performing at our May 9 recital will have the support of a new and welcomed sponsor this year: HomeTrust Bank.

HomeTrust has offices in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. It expanded into our state last year when it bought Jefferson National Bank.

“HomeTrust Bank is proud to support an important arts program like the Joy of Music School,” says Beth Kasper, the bank’s sales and marketing coordinator. “We are advocates for education, and skills learned through arts education produce creative problem solvers for our future. Instilling confidence, perseverance, and collaboration will help these students in every part of their lives, and arts education provides all of these.”

We are so grateful for HomeTrust’s support. Special thanks to JoMS board member Trey Coleman, a HomeTrust senior VP, who connected us.

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Letter From the Executive Director

Francis Graffeo

Francis Graffeo

Music is built on tradition and context, and so is its teaching. Recent events at the School have brought this into focus. We recently received a donated harpsichord with its Old World sound and its own place in history. Also, as I write this, the Silver Apples electronic duo is rehearsing in our building for their Big Ears Festival performance. I can hear them now. Silver Apples’ founder, Simeon Coxe, makes rock music with electronically generated sounds, produced by equipment he made himself back before people thought electronic sounds had any role in rock. In the context of rock and roll in the 1970s, this was unusual. Nowadays, electronic music is commonplace, even old hat. Yet, when I look at our harpsichord while I’m hearing Simeon’s synthesizer, electronic is definitely new music. That’s context—centuries of it.

The traditions in both musical modes trace their roots back to seminal creators. In the case of the harpsichord, it’s Antonio Scarlatti and J. S. Bach. In the case of electronic music in rock, it’s Simeon Coxe. In fact, he gave a delightful and informative presentation to our students about his music that gave the kids more context for what’s old and what’s new in music. This direct knowledge handoff is a prime example of tradition in music. Musical details must be passed on from person to person. That’s how it’s taught: a teacher, a student, and their music. The teacher helps the student understand context and passes on the traditions, giving depth to the student’s performing. Give a student a book and an instrument and turn him loose? You’re doing it wrong. When you add the teacher, then the music, the audience and the listener are transformed.


Francis Graffeo

Executive Director

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Commence the Fugues and Inventions!


When Adrienne Dessel approached the School about donating a harpsichord, she didn’t realize we have never owned one. Frankly, we never gave it much thought. But now that it’s here we are thrilled to have the instrument for our kids, and the possibilities seem endless. The harpsichord is unique, instantly recognizable, and central to the development of keyboard music as an art. Any classical piano student has played Bach. But not so many have played Bach on the instrument for which much of his music was written! Now our piano students can, thanks to Adrienne, whose beautiful harpsichord was built—and painted—by her father, John Brodsky. Many thanks to them both!

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Student Spotlight: Raven


Raven, a senior at Fulton High School, has been taking lessons at the Joy of Music School for six years. We recently caught up with her for a few Qs and As.

Will you be at the recital on May 9?

I wouldn’t miss it. I’ve been to all of them, ever since I started learning the guitar. We get so much good feedback and great advice. I remember my first year. I was in the seventh or eighth grade. I was so nervous. And it turned out so great. I just played my heart out. This year we actually have an original piece. It’s not a cover, it’s our song. I don’t think we have a name for it yet. It’s jazzy. I’ll play the bass, and my teacher, Will Fletcher, is going back and forth between the piano and guitar. We’ve thought about getting a bunch of people from the Joy of Music School to accompany us.

Have you played both guitar and bass all along?

I added bass in my sophomore year. I was doing marching band at my school, Fulton High, and they needed a bass player. So I went to my guitar teacher and I asked him for help. I started playing it and I just really fell in love with the bass.

Do you have plans after high school?

I do. I was thinking of a university, but then the Tennessee Achieve came along. I am taking advantage of that—two free years of school. I actually got accepted into Roane State and am planning on going there. Student Spotlight:

Will you continue to make music?

Of course. I love music. It just makes me feel more alive. If I’m down or having a bad day, I’m going to play my bass guitar or my guitar. It’s an escape from reality and it’s just awesome. Music is beautiful. Incredible.

Can you summarize what the School has meant to you?

The Joy of Music School has been such an honor to go to. I always want to practice there. There really are no words to describe it. My guitar teacher is amazing. I always look forward to going, every single week. And it’s just been a good experience for me throughout my middle school and high school years. I’ve learned so many skills. It’s just sad to be leaving. I’m about to cry right now.

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We Love Our Community!

One of the best parts of making Knoxville our home is the consistent love and support we get from local folks. Recently four groups have gone out of their way to raise money for the School, so here’s our chance to say thanks to them.

  • The International. In December, this nightclub hosted a special event with four heavy metal bands and 100 percent of the door proceeds benefited the School.
  • Scruffy City Hall. Event promoter Barry Garner presented the first “Rockin’ the Runway” event at the Market Square arts space in March. A fashion show with a rock and roll theme, it made a generous donation to the School.
  • West High School’s Music Theater Class. An April 22 event at the Standard has students performing a favorite song, with proceeds from the $5 tickets benefiting the Joy of Music School.
  • Painting with a Twist. Tickets to the studio’s second annual “Painting for Joy” event on April 28 cost $35, with a portion benefiting the School.

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Making Music, Supporting Music

Keith Brown

Knoxville jazz musician Keith Brown is well-known for his skills on the piano. He also deserves acclaim for his generosity of time and money. Keith came to the School one evening this winter with a couple of bandmates, playing a handful of tunes and chatting about music with a delighted group of students and parents. He is working on his second album, “The Journey”, which he hopes will appear this summer. To help raise money to record and produce the album, he turned to an outfit called Once he reached his fundraising goal, 10 percent of all the cash above that amount will be donated to the Joy of Music School.

Keith heard about the Joy of Music through Taber Gable, a friend and fellow jazz musician who took lessons here while growing up. “I just think it’s a great thing,” Keith says of the School. “It’s good to have them here.”

Our heartfelt thanks and best wishes for continued success to Keith Brown!

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