Joy of Music School

Music Notes – Newsletter


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Back to School, Joyfully

backtoschoolcollage

School is in session at the Joy of Music School, which means our halls and lesson rooms are humming with activity and melodies fill the air. The fall semester enrollment is on track to exceed last year, when we had 200 students and 85 volunteer teachers, says Julie Carter, Director of Music Education.

A few exciting new developments: We’ve added a second, more advanced baritone ukulele class. Ed Sublett, our Manager of Volunteer Resources, has expanded his Multimedia Production and Engineering course to include a second year. It focuses on shooting and editing videos to accompany music. And for the first time, we’re teaching the fiddle (in addition to the classical violin).


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Save the Date(s)

Ethan Bortnick in Concert, October 27 at 7 p.m. This celebrated pianist, composer and singer—just 15 years old— will perform at the Bijou Theatre, with proceeds benefiting Joy of Music School and East Tennessee PBS. See page 3 for more details.

Holiday Sparkles & Spirits, December 6 at 6:30 p.m. Warm up your holiday cheer and support the School through live and silent auctions, delicious food and drink, and music performed by JoMS kids. Plus, the Cherokee Country Club’s ballroom is magnificent. Visit http://www.joyofmusicschool.org for more info.

 

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Strange Sounds & Happy Ears

Nief-Norf

Nief-Norf

The contemporary chamber music ensemble has an odd name: “nief-norf.” But that’s fitting, because this group is all about unusual sounds. niefnorf visited the Joy of Music School in the spring, demonstrating, teaching and collaborating with the kids.

Formed in 2005, nief-norf was the vision of percussionists Andrew Bliss and Kerry O’Brien, naming the group after a descriptor of strange sounds. While some say “bleep-blop,” they prefer “nief-norf.”

By the end of their session, our kids had composed several new pieces of music that were performed by nief-norf. It was inspirational, and occasionally sounded like “bleep-blop,” but it was JoMS bleepblop, which made it all the better! Many thanks to these musicians for sharing their unique talents with us.

 

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No Kidding, This Will Be a Fun Show

Ethan Bortnick

Ethan Bortnick

He asked for piano lessons at age three, and by five he was composing songs. Now 15, Ethan Bortnick is performing at venues worldwide and has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Good Morning America, Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel and Oprah, where he was named one of “Oprah’s All-Time Smartest, Most Talented Kids.”

Ethan will share his songwriting and singing gifts in Knoxville to support the Joy of Music School and East Tennessee PBS on October 27 at 7 p.m. at the Bijou Theatre. Packed with energy and excitement, the family friendly concert will feature Ethan and his band, a children’s choir and local guest artists. Crowd pleasers range from the Beatles and Elton John to Motown and Michael Jackson, along with classical and jazz favorites, recent hits, Broadway tunes and his original songs. Tickets are $22 for children, $32, $52 and $102 (which includes a meet and greet with Ethan afterward). Purchase tickets at http://www.knoxbijou.com or by calling 865- 522-0832.

Ethan created and hosted his first PBS concert special in 2010. In 2013 he starred in “Anything is Possible,” a feature film for which he co-wrote the songs and scored the background music. The following year, Ethan created and hosted “The Power of Music” – a concert special airing over 1,500 times on public television. To date, he has raised more than $40 million for nonprofit organizations worldwide, sharing stages with such artists as Elton John, Andrea Bocelli, Beyoncé and Josh Groban.

 

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Our Solid Foundations

Applying for grants from charitable foundations is part of our regular routine here at the School. Sometimes we get the money we’re seeking and others we get a polite “not at this time.” Happily, this year has seen an upswing in gifts to JoMS from foundations. Peyton Manning’s PeyBack Foundation gave the most it has ever donated to us. Bonnaroo Works Fund matched its largest gift to us, which dates back to 2012. The Tennessee Arts Commission awarded us its largest sum in four years. We’ve also received new support from the Kinder Morgan Foundation. We are in the third year of an Arts Fund grant from the East Tennessee Foundation, the largest we’ve ever gotten from it. The Jeff Breazeale Foundation made a generous award described in these pages last year; it continues to support our work substantially.

We are always seeking new sources of foundation funding. To that end we are awaiting word from the CMA Foundation (the Country Music Association), and the Blackberry Farm Foundation. We hope to have more good news in the coming weeks from them. We are grateful to all the foundations that underwrite much of our volunteer teachers’ work with deserving children and teens. Thank you!

 

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The Mighty Thames

Dana, Weston, Haleigh and Rhiannon at Roosevelt University in Chicago

Dana, Weston, Haleigh and Rhiannon at Roosevelt University in Chicago

Recent JoMS graduate Weston Thames, a violinist, won a full scholarship to the Sphinx Performance Academy for two weeks in July at Roosevelt University in Chicago. He earned his spot via a competitive audition process. Way to go, Weston!

While in Chicago he participated in a string quartet, took master classes and got to soak up the big city atmosphere in his free time. But it was hard work. He says, “What really stood out to me was that I really can do more than I believe at first.” He added, “It’s worth the hard work.” By the end of the academy Weston had won the “Best Attitude” award! We are proud of our graduate. He made remarkable progress on violin in his last year here. These days Weston attends Pellissippi State Community College, and has not yet declared a major. We’re hoping it’s music!

 

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A Very Well-Traveled Gift

violondelamort

A violin with an intriguing history has made its way across the world to the Joy of Music School. The story goes like this: During World War I, as invading forces threatened a small town near Paris, the violin was buried along with a French soldier, to protect it from certain pillaging. The violin’s maker had it exhumed after the war and eventually it was purchased by a woman named Miss Hannah, a Cincinnati Conservatory of Music graduate who taught violin (among other instruments) in 1930s and ‘40s Knoxville. She left it to her prize student Carol Ridenour, who passed away recently and left it to her son, David, with instructions to donate it to the Joy of Music School.

The journey isn’t quite over. We won’t consider it complete until the violin is in the hands of a deserving student. In its current condition, it is unplayable. But we’re hoping someone might help us get it restored and into the hands of a student here at the school. Restoration estimates range from $1,000 to $1,500.

 

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