Joy of Music School

Music Notes – Newsletter

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“Fore!” the Benefit of our School

Ready to have a tee-rific time supporting your favorite cause? “Swing for Joy,” a golf tournament benefiting the Joy of Music School, gets underway Oct. 2 at Knoxville’s Gettysvue Polo, Golf & Country Club.

You don’t want to miss this one. There will be a putting contest and prizes for the longest drive, closest to the pin, the winning team, even the last-place team!

It costs $100 to play, or $400 for a foursome, and the price includes a delicious lunch and a fun awards ceremony after your round.

As this newsletter went to press, the event was nearly sold out. But there may be a few spots remaining, so if you want to play, call the School at 865-525-6806.

The tournament is co-chaired by Board Member Cindi Alpert and Executive Director Frank Graffeo. They’ve lined up a wonderful collection of sponsors to support the event, including Tom Spangler for County Sheriff, HomeTrust Bank and Knoxville Pediatric Associates. Special thanks, too, to Dr. Hash Hashemian, who donated through the East Tennessee Foundation.


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Volunteer Profile: Anu Kumar

Anu Kumar

We’re not sure when Anu Kumar finds time to sleep. In addition to pursuing a degree in neuroscience with double minors in psychology and music composition, the UT junior writes a column for the student newspaper and holds a leadership role in the Pride of the Southland marching band.

Oh! And she volunteers at the Joy of Music School, where she teaches flute lessons to our student Marcella.

Back in high school, Anu had worked with some fellow band members on improving their skills. But she’d never taught a true beginner until she began working with Marcella last year.

How’s it going so far? Great!

“It’s been a much more personal experience than I thought,” says Anu, who grew up in tiny Riceville, Tenn., about an hour south of Knoxville. “I thought I was just here to teach students how to read music and be better players. But it’s also about helping students move past boundaries they set for themselves, about getting over the fear of failure. The aspect of being a mentor, not just a teacher, was eye-opening. It showed me how much my own teachers influenced me.”

We have no doubt Anu is serving as a wonderful mentor to Marcella. We’re so glad she could find time for the Joy of Music School in her jam-packed schedule.


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Letter from the Executive Director

Francis Graffeo, Executive Director

We recently welcomed a roomful of guests from area mentoring nonprofits, brought here by the Knoxville Area Mentoring Initiative (KAMI). We enjoyed a brilliant presentation by JoMS board members Dr. Malcolm Spica, a neuropsychologist/ musician, and Ben Smith, a record label owner, music promoter, and employee of AC Entertainment. They teamed up to present “What are your mentees listening to?” Their goal was to help mentors improve their connection with their young mentees through music. In the audience were mentors from our School, as well as mentors from Girls on the Run, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and KAMI’s supporting organization, the Knoxville Leadership Foundation.

We learned a lot about how to understand and talk about music that young people like. One key is to learn the right questions to ask. Why is your favorite artist your favorite? What do you like about this particular song? Is it the message or the overall sound you like? Does this song remind you of anything?

Dr. Spica and Mr. Smith helped us understand that our brains inherently “categorize” things, such as music, cultural movements, and more. As teens are “becoming who they are,” starting at around sixth grade, they categorize and identify with various music and musicians for reasons that often go far beyond the sounds they hear. It’s a time of change, and an opportunity for a mentor to connect if the kid will let them in. Often music is the entry point.

You can imagine that the Q & A that followed was lively and informative! The underlying message was that music is strong. It makes people strong. It can make important relationships stronger. I like the sound of that.





Francis Graffeo

Executive Director


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Cello, I Must Be Going

Autumn performs at the spring recital

The past two summers, our student Autumn has packed up her cello and headed to Ohio, where she’s been part of the Cincinnati Young Artists Summer Workshop.

The Joy of Music School was pleased to pay her tuition.

The program is basically all cello, all the time for six days straight. Classes run from 9 to 4. Some are master classes and “mini master classes,” where the kids observe other students being critiqued. Others are specific classes on topics such as improving vibrato, or warmup exercises and being better prepared to play physically.

Sounds like hard work. But if you love the cello, as Autumn does, it’s also a lot of fun.

This summer, the program was organized so that she traveled from class to class with a small group of fellow students. They all got to know each other well, and Autumn feels like she made some new friends.

“I really enjoyed it,” the homeschooling 10th grader says of the workshop experience, adding: “I think I did grow as cellist quite a bit.”


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Our Auction Action Heroes

Morton and Becky Massey

The Joy of Music School would not exist without the many hundreds of people who “give back” to their community. Among them is a couple who live out those words by helping the School in a unique and significant way—once a year, every year.

Morton and Becky Massey donate their time and work alongside our staff at our annual Holiday Sparkles & Spirits (see “Save the Date” on page 1), helping to run the auction check-in and check-out with calm, friendly expertise. And they follow up each year with detailed spreadsheet reports that make tallying all the auction data a breeze.

They started offering their unpaid work on local charity auctions in 2002 to replace a 22-year hobby of coaching girls softball together. They now work on roughly 60 events a year, helped by a rotating group of about five volunteers.

Says Becky, a state senator representing District 6: “Besides the joy of knowing we are helping nonprofits raise more money and make their events more effective, we learn so much about so many great organizations.” We are proud to count ourselves among them.


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A Gift to Die For

Care to guess the most unusual donation we’ve received so far in 2017? A hint: Music includes rests, right? Well, we got a gift related to resting. Permanent resting.

Yes, two beautiful cemetery plots at Sherwood Gardens, in Alcoa, Tenn., are ours.

Our thoughtful donors find many ways to support the School’s work with deserving kids. In addition to every kind of musical instrument imaginable, we’ve gotten furniture, rugs, lighting fixtures, CD collections, dishes, a vacuum, even a minivan.

But cemetery plots are a first! A kind donor found herself owning adjacent plots, but since she has plans for her own eternal repose elsewhere, she gave them to the Joy of Music School. If you are in the market for some nice “forever” property for you and that special someone, might we interest you? Please contact Frank Graffeo at 865-525-6806 for more information.


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