Joy of Music School

Music Notes – Newsletter

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Ring in the Holidays in Style


Get ready—it’s almost time for the Joy of Music School’s much-loved Holiday Sparkles & Spirits event. And this year, as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of HS&S, we’re taking it to the next level, with a beautiful evening in the Cherokee Country Club’s main ballroom.

The fun begins at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 8. The evening will feature heart-warming performances by Joy of Music School students and a dazzling array of gift ideas in our live and silent auctions. Out-of-thisworld wines! Beautiful jewelry! A wild game dinner! An Italian dinner (see page 4 for more details)! A condo in Vail Valley!

Your ticket price of $100 includes delicious heavy hors d’oeuvres and wine and, of course, goes to support the Joy of Music School. Please fill out and mail in the form at the right or, if you prefer, simply call the School at 865-525-6806 to reserve your spot now!

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Our Website Gets a Makeover

mobile JoMS

Does anything this cool ever happen in real life? You ask what something costs and instead of giving you the price, the seller offers it for free. That’s how the Joy of Music School got its new website. Executive Director Frank Graffeo asked Scott Brantley and Mary Byrne of Knoxville’s Umbrella Creative Group how much they would charge to build a new website for the School. These two remarkable people got back to him “within ten minutes of the email,” says Frank. Their price? Free. Gratis, on the house, zip, nada, pro bono. Frank couldn’t believe what he was hearing. As Scott explains: “Mary and I choose a nonprofit organization each year for this sort of donation. We had attended a fundraiser earlier in the year and knew about the work of the School, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity.” And are we ever grateful! The new site, still at, is up and running with many features the old site lacked. Perhaps most important, it works equally well on computers, tablets, and phones. So, that happened—in real life! Too cool for school? Not this one.

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A Letter from the Executive Director

Francis Graffeo

Francis Graffeo

Before electric light and fan-driven heat, we humans were forced indoors as daylight and warmth became scarce in December. Waiting it out for spring, we ate, drank and congregated in homes, clubs or places of worship. It was inevitable some of us would entertain and engage the others. That’s how many works of music have been created and performed. Before music was available at the push of a button, in countless candlelit rooms the musically talented ones would strike up a tune and unite everyone in a shared experience. Some danced. Some listened. Some sang along. Flickering shadows and resonant harmonies filled the gaps. Everyone was involved and perhaps drawn even closer together than the walls required.

As the holidays approach and we find ourselves drawn closer together by tradition, if not the cold, let’s take a moment and listen. These days music is everywhere. And you know you won’t see a musician every time you hear one. But when you do, please thank them, applaud them, toss a tip into their open case, and consider what that space might feel like, isolated by the dark outdoors, without the warmth of music and a musician.

Our December 8 Holiday Sparkles & Spirits event will have us all in a glittering room with darkness closing in from outside. You will indeed hear and see live musicians: young, eager, cheerful musicians trained by the teachers of this very special school. We sincerely hope their music will warm your spirits and add to your holidays, and bring you even closer together.





Francis Graffeo

Executive Director

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A Special Visit from a Top Quartet

Cuarteto Latinoamericano

Cuarteto Latinoamericano

We accomplish most of our goals at the Joy of Music School with the basics: instruction and performance, one-on-one, week in and week out. But sometimes we get an opportunity for a special, enriching and inspiring event, a gathering created especially for the students. On Oct. 13, Cuarteto Latinoamericano, a world-renowned classical music ensemble that was formed in Mexico, presented an invigorating program for our students and families.

Centered around rich and diverse Latin American music, the program featured deft interactions between the venerated musicians (visiting Knoxville as part of a program at the University of Tennessee) and eager, admiring students. They earned a robust and sustained standing ovation. After the program, the Cuarteto was given a tour of the School by Executive Director Frank Graffeo, during which they praised the organization for our mission and commitment to quality. We finally bid the four gentlemen a fond “Adios!” and expressed our sincere hope to see them again one day.


Click here go to to the top post.

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Marrying Music & Video: A Pro’s Perspective

Phil Fuson Photography by Bill Foster

Phil Fuson
Photography by Bill Foster

As a composer for Scripps Networks Interactive, Phil Fuson creates music that appears on HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Travel Channel and more. As a volunteer at the Joy of Music School, he shares that understanding of music and video with our students. He’s co-instructor, along with Manager of Volunteer Resources Ed Sublett, in our Music Production and Engineering for Teens class.

Bright, talkative, and absolutely energized by music, Phil is innately a teacher, with a big personality that captures his students’ attention. With the process dominated by technology, he teaches them on software that Phil says he’s worked with “since it was on the Atari, so I really feel ancient.” Today’s version of the software, Logic Pro X, is the industry standard, and Phil sees it as the best teaching tool for kids seeking a future in his line of work.

Phil is a native of Pineville, Ky., and a product of Jerry Coker’s University of Tennessee’s legendary jazz program. His early musical influences include the Beatles and the Dave Clark Five, introduced to him by his cousins; Louis Armstrong, Nat Cole, Basie and Duke Ellington, thanks to his stereophile dad; and Uncle Dave Macon, often played on his mom’s favorite radio station in Jamestown, W. Va.

For Phil today, service is a core value. He cites Herbie Hancock’s recommendation that while we are reaching up as musicians, we should also pull up those less fortunate. And doing good, it turns out, feels good! “The joy of music goes both ways,” Phil explains, describing his JoMS students as “interested, voraciously curious and wicked bright.”

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A ‘Buon Appetito’ Worth Bidding On

The Maestro at Work

The Maestro at Work

It’s always one of the most sought-after items in our Holiday Sparkles & Spirits live auction. And with good reason. Who wouldn’t want a delicious, multicourse Italian dinner prepared by the “maestro” himself, Joy of Music School Executive Director Frank Graffeo?

“It was magnifico,” reports Geoff Proud, who won the Graffeo dinner at the 2013 Holiday Sparkles & Spirits. In fact, he and his wife, Melody, enjoyed the dinner for eight so much they made the top bid in 2014 too! (The auction actually got so heated, Frank agreed to do two dinners—one for the Prouds and one for fellow top bidders Carey and John Merz.)

The menu: pasta (made from scratch at the party), eggplant and chicken parmagiana, Italian broccolini, salad, and gelato for dessert. The parmagiana recipe came from one of Frank’s conducting teachers back in his school days. Though he was Irish, Frank recalls, “he was an opera conductor, so he can be considered an honorary Italian!”

Be sure to attend our Holiday Sparkles & Spirits event at Cherokee Country Club on Tuesday, Dec. 8. You’ll have a chance to bid on wonderful gift items like this — and many more.


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