Save The Music Foundation: Helping Students, Schools and Communities Reach Their Full Potential through the Power of Making Music

In 1997, John Sykes, one of the original MTV/VH1 executives, spent a day as principal at a school in Brooklyn. He was shocked to see that the school’s instruments were being held together with gaffer tape and that the entire music program was at risk. In response, he helped mobilize a pro-social initiative at VH1, which quickly gained steam as it became apparent that many more music programs across the country were being deprioritized with severe budget cuts or even eliminated.

Soon thereafter, Save The Music became its own independent 501c3 public charity. Since then, Save The Music has donated more than $60 million worth of new musical instruments, equipment and technology to 2201 schools in 277 school districts across 42 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, improving the lives of millions of children throughout the United States.

Here’s how Save The Music partners with local communities and school districts to build sustainable music programs:

  • Investing in schools: Save The Music donates instruments, music technology and other equipment to jumpstart public school music programs.
  • Supporting teachers: Save The Music supports music teachers with professional development, ongoing program support and other resources.
  • Advocating for music education: Save The Music advocates at the local, state and national levels to ensure music is part of a well-rounded education.

Save The Music Grant Program Overview

Save The Music partners with public school districts in communities across the United States that show an immediate need for support and resources to jumpstart or enhance their music education programs. These school districts often serve Title I schools, have a high percentage of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch, and own limited instrument inventory and materials prior to the partnership. Partner districts are committed to investing in and building in-school music education programs for the benefit of student achievement and access to a well-rounded education. After establishing a partner school district, Save The Music grant applications are given to specific school sites by invitation only.

Save The Music provides grants at the elementary, middle and high school levels to support PreK-12 sequential music education for every child in a school district.

The Intro To Music Grant includes everything a music teacher needs to provide all PreK-5 students with sequential standards based general music instruction focused in active music making and engagement for all students. The grant package includes $22,000 worth of developmentally-appropriate and culturally-relevant instruments and resources, including a digital piano, acoustic guitar, Orff Instruments, world drums, recorders, hand-held percussion, Boomwhackers, a classroom set of ukuleles, method books, and program support for 10 years.

The Save The Music Core Grant program restores instrumental music in public schools across the country by providing grants of new musical instruments, music stands, method books, and program services valued at $61,000. To receive a Core Grant, districts must budget and commit to funding certified music teachers’ salaries, schedule instrumental music classes during the regular school day, and budget for maintenance and supplies. The Foundation then maintains a partnership with the district until instrumental music is in place at every eligible school.

The J Dilla Music Tech Grant, named after hip-hop producer J Dilla, focuses on delivering the future of music learning through innovative tech tools and curriculum. This revolutionary program reflects how music is being made today by bringing integrated 21st century training techniques to local communities and school districts. The goal is to bring out students’ inner creativity, talent, and confidence by teaching them the fundamentals of electronic music creation, recording, and production.

In this video, see a recap of an event in Trenton, NJ showcasing how Trenton Public Schools were able to implement a major district-wide rebuild of elementary and middle school instrumental music programs with the help of Save The Music and what this has meant for the students involved:

For more information, contact Save The Music at

Save The Music Online Education Resources

Save The Music has collected and curated the best online resources and experiences for students, teachers, and parents for in-school, out-of-school, and at home here:

The page includes information about creating virtual classrooms or home learning experiences, original and free resources for teachers and students to engage with music learning while working and learning from home, and tools to help teachers and supporters advocate for music education in their own communities.

Here are some sample topics:

There are also links to more than 100 music teaching and learning resources in the following categories from Save The Music partners:

#MusicSaves: Keeping Music Education Top of Mind

#MusicSaves is a call to the public to ensure music education is recognized for the powerful social, emotional, and cultural benefits it provides. In line with Save The Music’s more than 20-year history of helping students, schools, and communities reach their full potential through the power of making music, #MusicSaves will kick off with:

  • A viral TikTok campaign
  • New technology grants for schools across the country
  • A new online music education resources hub for teachers, students, and parents
  • A series of masterclasses for Save The Music grantee music teachers and students

The campaign also celebrates the more than 40 schools that will receive new Save The Music grants this school year.

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