May, 2008

The end of the school year is a time to reflect on accomplishments of the year and evaluate how we are doing as an organization and how our students are progressing as young musicians.

This issue features student awards and accomplishments as well as another teacher/student profile that clarifies what this program is all about.

New business partners are bringing discounts, donations, and opportunities to teachers and students. Fund-raising events are raising awareness of MusicLink to communities across the country.

Statistically, we have reached the milestone of offering $5 million in scholarship lessons thanks to teachers donating over 220,000 hours of instruction. Student totals are above 3,000 and teacher totals above 1,000.

A good accounting for the year with each link beginning with one student, one teacher, and one nominator, 1+1+1.

Justin Kauflin - MusicLink Alumnus
Performs at the Kennedy Center

Justin Kauflin with his sister and Joanne Haroutounian

What happens to our MusicLink students once they graduate high school? Justin Kauflin, a MusicLink student who studied with Virginia Koun of Virginia Beach VA for 8 years has enjoyed an ongoing career as a jazz pianist, starting in high school and continuing through his college years at William Paterson University. He graduates in May with a degree in Jazz Performance.

Despite the loss of his vision at age 10, Justin has continually focused on his abilities in music and academics while honing his art in jazz piano. In high school, he performed in the Vail Jazz festival as well as at the Blue Note, Village Vanguard, and Jazz at the Lincoln Center in NYC. He performed at Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead Residency in DC and his trio performed a full recital at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater as part of the Very Special Arts weekend festival in 2007. Justin is a fine example of MusicLink's mission to "create musicians, one student at a time." To see where he is performing next, log onto

Foundations Support
MusicLink Efforts

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has extended its support beyond the original three year grant period to support the MusicLink Foundation for a fourth year with a $50,000 grant that covers personnel expenses, training and recruitment, and consultant fees.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation will have provided a total of $283,000 all told to MusicLink. This fundamental support has allowed MusicLink to expand enrollment by 70%, establish a fluid communication system through our website hub and regional coordination, and promote visibility of MusicLink nationwide through convention presence and DVD/CD distribution.

We deeply appreciate our relationship with this foundation and their mutual mission to promote the ongoing development of talent of students in need. We are so proud that four of our MusicLink students were winners of prestigious Jack Kent Cooke scholarship awards worth $10,000-$20,000 over the past three years. These students were Kevin Lu (VA), Andrea Johnson (OR), Stephanie Duong (CA), and Vanessa Woodard (WA).

The Dimick Foundation has provided a grant for $2,500 specifically for the Washington DC MusicLink program which partners with the Atlas Performing Arts Center in the Northeast inner city of DC providing lessons in guitar, keyboard, and percussion.

Virginia Seniors Receive
Achievement Awards

Khand Sukhee and Rene Johnson

Khand Sukhee, a graduate of Washington-Lee High School in Arlington VA and MusicLink student of René Johnson, received the $1,000 Marilyn Costello Award of Excellence. This award was established by Daniel Dannenbaum assisted by Serena Lowe in honor of Marilyn Costello, principal harpist of the Philadelphia Orchestra for many years. Khand, born in Ulaan Bataar, has studied piano through MusicLink for four years and plans to attend Brigham Young University seeking a degree in nursing.

Diana Fang with Martha Smith

Diana Fang, a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, received the $5,000 Henry D. Kirkpatrick Award for excellence in MusicLink study. Diana has studied piano through MusicLink with Martha Smith for the past 9 years. The award was established by Martha Smith in honor of her brother and his love of music. Diana will be attending the University of Virginia, majoring in architecture.

Fund Raising Ideas Abound

The Gretsch Family Foundation is interested in working with the MusicLink Foundation across the country with fund-raising events that feature Gretsch guitars professionally transformed locally into Guitar Art that can be auctioned off at local events to raise money for the MusicLink Foundation.

We thank Janet Townsend for working with the Northern VA and DC MusicLink programs and providing six guitars that will be transformed into art-pieces by professional artists in the area, as well as a vintage Gretsch guitar that will be autographed and auctioned. Nancy Carter, MusicLink board member and event planner, is designing a buffet and entertainment in the Fall 08 to feature this wonderful Guitar Art.

Log onto for details on how your local MusicLink program can take advantage of our Gretsch business connection for fund-raising.

Our grass-roots approach to fund-raising for MusicLink brings out the creative juices in different communities.

Julie Wegener of Dutchess Community College's MusicLink program organized a sing-a-thon which literally had folks walking the streets in her town singing, with pledges for these performances. She expanded to include a play-a-thon with accompanist the following year.

Eric Reinhardt of Phoenixville PA attended this year's event for Dutchess, which featured a filming of "Honeydripper" followed by music student performances. He was inspired by this experience and organized a similar event in his community, selling MusicLink totebags and providing brochures to spread the word about the program. He plans to begin a MusicLink program in Phoenixville this school year.

Promise to Practice is growing in popularity in studios, music schools, and mall events, as a way for kids to practice, play and help our MusicLink kids in the process. Our thanks to Patti Nyien of Westmont IL, Betsy Erickson of Kennett Square PA, Susan Brown of Woodstock GA and Nancy Davis of Springfield VA for enjoying good practice in their studios through Promise to Practice. Together, these studios raised almost $1000 for MusicLink. Congratulations to David Jacob (an adult student/teacher), Keri Flynn, and Cara Mingo all from the Davis Studio, who received MP3 players for raising over $200 each during the event. All students receive a "success" pin and those raising over $25 receive a MusicLink tote bag. Adult students as well as teacher studios and music schools may want to give it a try as a summer project. Promise to Practice packets are available through our website. Click on the "Support Us" tab.

MusicLink Student Wins Morton Gould Composition Competition

Yuri Boguinia of Longmont CO was chosen as one of the winners of the prestigious ASCAP Morton Gould Composition Competition. The competition recognizes and encourages talented young creators of concert music from across the world. There were 32 recipients out of 600 submissions, with only 9 winners in the young composer category (ages 6 - 18).

A multiple talent, 17 year-old Yuri studies violin Keynes Chen and composition with Daniel Kellogg at Colorado University at Boulder.

Yuri also won first place in the Pikes Peak Composition Competition, which features a performance of his Ukrainian Dance with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic Orchestra. Yuri was the recipient of last year's Alfred Talent Search Camp Scholarship and received assistance for student travel from MusicLink for the Gould award acceptance. The MusicLink Foundation has also provided Yuri with a violin and viola thanks to donations from Eastman Strings and a private donor.

Yuri with composer John Corigliano

A Generous Gift of Music
from Frederick Harris

The Celebration series by Frederick Harris will be getting a new edition printing which is good news for MusicLink. This generous MusicLink business partner provided the remainder of the Celebration series to the MusicLink Foundation for use by our teachers and students. Sue Wege, Midwest MusicLink coordinator, received 23 boxes of music, worth approximately $23,000 that will be distributed to MusicLink programs across the country. Our sincere thanks to Christine Sharp and Laura Copfer for this wonderful musical learning opportunity for our students.

Teachers and coordinators can contact for details on sending boxes to local programs.

We are also fortunate to have free and discounted music available to MusicLink students from most major publishing companies including Alfred, FJH, Hal Leaonard, Kjos, Schaum, and Willis through our Discount List provided to every new MusicLink teacher.

MusicLink on the Web

The MusicLink Foundation is getting more presence on different websites because of the opportunities we provide to promising students in need. We invite you to log onto the following websites and add your personal comments, stories of students, etc. to provide more information for the web-browsing public:

We also offer a MusicLink Charity Badge to add to your website whose code can be downloaded from our website (click on support us).

We are looking for interested web-folks who can help us grow our internet visibility through My Space, You Tube, etc. If anyone has interest in helping us with internet connections, please email us at:

My Wonderful MusicLink Journey - Tamara Slobodkin (Suffolk NY)

For the past nine years, I have been lucky enough and able enough to participate in the MusicLink program which matches deserving students unable to afford music lessons with private teachers who are able to teach for half or less of their normal fee. With our children all grown and doing well, my husband and I felt that it was time to give back some of the resources we have to those who might not be able to study on their own. So I embarked on this wonderful journey that has not only given me ideas and support from the organization itself and its founder, Joanne Haroutounian, but has gifted me with wonderful students, the latest of whom are the remarkable Millings family. I thought you might like to read their own comments about what music means to them.

Catherine (mother): I have been blessed to have the gift of music in my home. With five children learning the piano and violin, there was always someone playing an instrument. Because we homeschool, it was convenient to schedule their practice in the midst of our school day. Piano practice began at 8 am, with each child taking turns practicing for 1 to 2 hours, depending on their level of piano proficiency. During NYSSMA audition and Guild months, the piano would be going all day long.

Every year I have one condition - one month long vacation from music in July. It was not a popular decision, but it provided a month of quiet, a chance to listen to recorded music rather than playing and a time to get refreshed for the next school year of music.

Rachael (22 - Doctoral student in math at Stony Brook Un.): From my earliest recollections, I have enjoyed music as a means of rich and varied communication. I began piano at a young age and quickly grew to love the instrument and its classical literature. I was able to continue my studies through college and I am now developing my musicianship on my own. I hope to work with a classical ensemble group and will always enjoy bringing beauty to people's lives through music performance.

Elizabeth (19 - chemistry major in college): Whatever I do, I know that music will always be an important part of my life, whether attending concerts, playing the violin with orchestras, or singing in choirs. I still enjoy the unrivaled beauty and joy that comes from playing solo piano, and look forward to some accompanying in the future. My dream is that my siblings and I will someday form our own chamber group so we can share among ourselves and communicate to others our love of music.

Sarah (17 - pursuing a degree in science or architecture): Music has always been an important part of my life. By the time I was eight, my daily practice was a regular part of my school day. Much to my surprise, I early discovered that I loved to practice. The most rewarding part of studying music is to practice a phrase until it sings, that magical moment in a music practice when all of a sudden it all comes together. I enjoy taking a dramatic, little-known piece of music and expressing those emotions to my audience.

Jonathan (14): Music has always been a part of my life. I can't remember a day going by without one of my sisters taking a few pokes at the piano, my mother singing me to sleep, or my father breaking into song at different moments.

My family was blessed to meet Mrs. Tamara Slobodkin who was willing to give music lessons to all of us. Since then, piano playing has changed from being a daily chore to becoming a part of my life. I believe every child should have the chance that I had - to be exposed to and learn to love music.

Joshua (13): Music has always been a way for me to express myself. It gives me a sense of responsibility and achievement and I am inspired to challenge myself with higher goals. I hope that I will always be surrounded by music and will continue to share it with others.

Tamara: Needless to say, working with these wonderful youngsters and their parents has given me great joy and a sense of satisfaction; it's a special gift we can give and receive.

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