Joy of Music School

Music Notes – Newsletter

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It’s Recital Time in Tennessee!


The Joy of Music School’s Spring Recital has a new home. This year, all the fun and excitement take place at the Scottish Rite Temple, right across from the University of Tennessee campus at 612 16th Street.

Save the date: Saturday, May 7, from 2- 4 p.m.  The Scottish Rite Temple is “a great venue,” says Julie Carter, the Joy of Music School’s Director of Music Education. “There’s a really big auditorium with plenty of seating for the audience, and there is lots of space on the floor and the stage for performances.”

Our annual recital is a truly special event. Roughly 65 of our students will climb up on that stage to show their families and friends what they’ve accomplished—musically and personally—this year. There will be singers, pianists, guitarists, drummers, and all manner of brass and string performances. There will be jangly nerves — and great big smiles of satisfaction and pride.

The event is free of charge for all. Be sure to stick around afterward for a warm and celebratory reception in the temple’s fellowship hall.

We are most grateful to the Scottish Rite Temple for letting us use their beautiful performance space, and to Knoxville’s HomeTrust Bank for sponsoring this important and fun event!

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From Ebay with Love

Pat White

Pat White

Like many (if not most) guitarists, Pat White is a devoted collector. When he sees a really cool guitar, especially one that needs repair, he can’t help himself. He has to have it.

But Pat doesn’t hang onto these beautiful objects forever. Once he brings them back to life, he often donates them to the Joy of Music School.

We have received a dozen restored guitars from Pat in the past two years, a haul that would be worth something like $9,000 if we’d had to buy them.

“Pat has made such a difference in our guitar program,” says JoMS Executive Director Frank Graffeo. “Our kids’ eyes just light up when they see his beautiful handiwork on these amazing guitars.”

Pat buys his instruments on eBay and repairs them in his Knoxville basement. He has 13 guitar stands. So when he gets to 13 guitars, he knows it’s “time to cull the herd” to make room for new ones. That time is now. “I’ve got four here that I’m about to bring over the School,” he says.

A former distribution manager for UPS, Pat took up guitar when he retired nine years go. The bug bit him hard. “I get so excited when I see a new guitar,” he explains. “There’s something about the inherent beauty of a guitar’s design. How it feels to hold it. How it sounds.”

Happily for our students, those are feelings Pat is determined to share.

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Letter from the Executive Director

Francis Graffeo

Francis Graffeo

Our volunteer teachers do the bulk of the weekly work here. Our staff also works hard, making sure everything is in place for the teachers and students. But there is another group of workers who don’t always get the spotlight—our board members. They do amazing and sometimes unexpected things to keep this organization operating at its best and growing for the future. A few examples: Professional writer and editor Pete Finch has been the anonymous editor of this newsletter for many years. Cindi Alpert donates air time and production work at her radio station. Susan Brackney gives hundreds of hours a year to our holiday fundraiser event. Many members are, or have been, volunteer teachers. We get legal advice from attorney Rick Carl. Mike Combs, founding board president, is a master organizer and motivator, giving countless hours to many initiatives. Tim Purcell connects us to the corporate world, and tackles problems with his ingenuity and hard work. Treasurer Lisa Price Scott, CPA, oversees our financial work. Bank president Trey Coleman helps with strategy and financial decision-making. These wonderful people, and many more unmentioned here, bind the School to the community. They strengthen existing bonds and reach out to form new ones. They conduct meetings, set policies, oversee, plan, protect, and care for the Joy of Music School. They attend recitals and applaud our kids like they would their own. They write checks. They find donated goods and services. They set an example and ask nothing in return. For all of that, they have our gratitude!





Francis Graffeo

Executive Director

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Thanks Béla and Abigail!


Béla Fleck, Francis Graffeo, and Abigail Washburn

World-class banjo virtuosos Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn are touring the U.S., performing for packed houses from coast to coast. Weeks before their Feb. 20 show at Knoxville’s Bijou Theatre, their tour staff reached out to the Joy of Music School to see if we’d like the net proceeds from the lobby merchandise sales of t-shirts, CDs, DVDs, et al. We gladly accepted their kind offer!

Béla, who in 2008 traveled to Africa to trace the banjo’s roots and create the award-winning documentary Throw Down Your Heart, went a step further. To boost merchandise sales (and their donations to our School), he announced from the stage that every merch buyer would get a raffle ticket in a drawing for an autographed banjo. It worked. At intermission, the audience lined up 30-deep in the Bijou lobby! We are honored and ever grateful to Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, whose generosity netted the School nearly $2,200!

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‘Broadcasting Live from … the Bank Lobby?’

Frank at the bank

Knoxville’s HomeTrust Bank recently turned 90 and celebrated with a bustling party in its normally quiet, professional lobby. Joy of Music School Executive Director Frank Graffeo attended — and got to join a live WNML Sports Radio broadcast from the bank. Frank talked about his love of the Dallas Cowboys, and about the School, of course. The party also featured cornhole, drawings, prizes, pizza, cake, refreshments, and other things you might never expect in a bank lobby. HomeTrust Bank is the sponsor of the Joy of Music School Spring Recital (see article on page 1). Many thanks to JoMS board member and former volunteer guitar teacher Trey Coleman, president of the bank!


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Our Friend Emily Spreads the Joy


Fifth grader Emily Ford is a little kid with a big heart. As she was getting ready for her 10th birthday in November, she decided to do something different from the usual celebration. “I thought, ‘I don’t really need any more presents,’ ” Emily says. She encouraged her friends to make donations to the Joy of Music School rather than bring gifts to her party.

This wasn’t the first time Emily has been helpful to the School. She pitched in at our last two spring cleaning days along with her mother, Rachel Ford, Executive Director of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and JoMS board member. Emily, who plays the piano and violin, liked what she saw that day. “I thought it was cool that the School had free lessons for kids that might not have the opportunity,” she says.

Well, we think it’s extra cool that she would introduce her friends and their families to our School—and encourage them to donate. Thanks Emily!


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