Associated Press:
Some things to know
about music lessons
for children

Teacher Spotlight

Sally Ritchie
Read More!

MusicLink Legacy Partners:
William & Joanne Haroutounian
William & Brigid Brakefield
Louise P. Zanar Fund
MusicLink Board of Directors



Silver Anniversary Celebrations

The MusicLink Foundation has many plans to celebrate our Silver Anniversary and encourage you to be part of this celebration. Here are details to check out:

  • A new fund-raising website that easily shows what we do and how people can support us -
  • Our Silver Anniversary Campaign starting NOW to raise $25,000 by the end of January 2017. Contributions online through or or sending checks to MusicLink Foundation, 1043 N. McKinley Rd., Arlington VA 22205.
  • Adding 25 new business partners and local music/piano dealers to our roster. Plans are underway to encourage MusicLink linked sales with all of our business partners.
  • Reaching 25 fund-raising events nationally - including playathons, Promise to Practice studio events, benefit recitals, and business-sponsored events.
  • 25 five star reviews on
  • The 25th new student in 2017 will receive a $50 gift certificate and MusicLink totebag.
  • The 25th new teacher in 2017 will receive a group of pedagogy books by Joanne Haroutounian, MuscLink Foundation's Executive Director.
  • The state that adds the largest number of students in 2017 will be recognized with an article in the eLINK and receive a plaque.


General News Online


Silver Anniversary Celebrations

The MusicLink Foundation has many plans to celebrate our Silver Anniversary and encourage you to be part of this celebration. Here are details to check out:

  • A new fund-raising website that easily shows what we do and how people can support us -
  • Our Silver Anniversary Campaign starting NOW to raise $25,000 by the end of January 2017. Contributions online through or or sending checks to MusicLink Foundation, 1043 N. McKinley Rd., Arlington VA 22205.
  • Adding 25 new business partners and local music/piano dealers to our roster. Plans are underway to encourage MusicLink linked sales with all of our business partners.
  • Reaching 25 fund-raising events nationally - including playathons, Promise to Practice studio events, benefit recitals, and business-sponsored events.
  • 25 five star reviews on
  • The 25th new student in 2017 will receive a $50 gift certificate and MusicLink totebag.
  • The 25th new teacher in 2017 will receive a group of pedagogy books by Joanne Haroutounian, MuscLink Foundation's Executive Director.
  • The state that adds the largest number of students in 2017 will be recognized with an article in the eLINK and receive a plaque.


MusicLink Foundation to Receive the
MTNA 2017 Achievement Award

The Music Teachers National Association Board of Directors will recognize the MusicLink Foundation with the 2017 MTNA Achievement Award at its March national conference. The award recognizes individuals or organizations that have made significant and lasting contributions to music and music teaching. The MusicLink Foundation is only the second organization to receive this award in its 27 year history.

In a letter from Executive Director, Gary L. Ingle, he notes that "it was obvious to me that MusicLink was one of the most important programs in music teaching. The partnership we forged between MTNA and MusicLink to expand its influence nationally was exactly right at the time. It has been such a pleasure to watch the program grow under your vision and leadership and to see it benefit thousands of at-risk and needy children across the country."


2016 Pedaling for Pianos Event
Raises $485 for MusicLink

The annual Pedaling for Pianos event took place in St. Paul, MN the morning of Saturday August 13th and what a beautiful morning it was for a bike ride! Twenty bikers participated, riding a route from the Cathedral of St. Paul to several St. Paul stops and back to the Cathedral. At the Keys 4/4 Kids store, six students performed a mini-recital on one of their signature painted pianos followed by a performance by "A Piano in Every Home" at Shadow Falls Park. It was then on to the Red Balloon Book Store for a performance by Robb Henry, a local jazz guitarist and back to the Cathedral for a mini-concert by six student performers.

The bikers raised $485 for the MusicLink Foundation and our thanks goes out to Eric Bell, the coordinator of the event and to Keys 4/4 Kids for their collaborative support. It was a great morning enjoyed by bikers and performers alike.


New York Playathon Raises $1,700
for the MusicLink Foundation

Sam Varon, Patricia Cestaro, Olivia Gotlib

On Saturday, April 16th, Patricia Cestaro, Northport's MusicLink Coordinator, brought together teachers and student volunteers to hold a fundraiser for the MusicLink Foundation at the Walt Whitman Shops in Melville, New York. The event was held in the rotunda, a large circular area in the middle of the mall. Our thanks to Sam Varon, manager of Faust Harrison Piano Store, who donated a seven-foot grand piano and a Clavinova for the event. In addition, they set up a sound system to amplify the performers and instruments.

Approximately 45 musicians participated in the one-day event, playing great music from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The performers were students, teachers, amateur and professional musicians. Performances included piano solos and duets, piano and cello, piano and saxophone as well as vocal performers.

Volunteers were stationed at three different tables for sign in, donations, and gifts. The event was staffed by Patricia Cestaro, Tami Levy, and Olivia Gotlib. In addition, there were two high school volunteers and three middle school volunteers who assisted in staffing the tables. Olivia is a high school junior in the International Baccalaureate program; the fundraiser was her IB community service project. The fundraiser has been approved as a community service project for the IB program. This will allow students to continue running the fundraiser, bringing in new students each year.

Performers who donated $25 received a tote bag, and those donating $35 or more received a MusicLink t-shirt. Overall, the event raised $1,700 for the MusicLink Foundation. Next year, teachers and student volunteers are hoping to repeat this project, but on a larger scale. They are hoping to obtain some corporate sponsors and have more musicians sign up to have performances fill a longer amount of time, with more music and generosity.



MusicLink Camp Sponsorship Program

The MusicLink Foundation provides camp scholarships of $250 to any MusicLink student who has taken lessons for over six months and shows an interest in the opportunity of a summer music program experience. Students choose the music camp they would like to attend and the MusicLink Foundation works with the teachers and camps to help fund these valuable summer experiences.

Individuals who wish to support a specific student or group of students for these camp scholarships can request to be a camp sponsor with a donation of $250 or more. The organization will provide the name of the student and camp that he/she will attend to personalize the donation. Donors should specify Music Camp Sponsorship Program when they contribute online or with a check in the mail.

Individuals who wish to sponsor one of our more advanced students may wish to make a contribution of $1,000 or more to help these students attend the more prestigious camp programs that last for multiple weeks and can often cost $5,000 or more. Contact the national office at 703-534-9490 or


Minnesota's Playathon Raises over
$9,000 for the MusicLink Foundation

On the weekend of February 13th & 14th, the Mall of America hosted Minnesota's 8th Annual MusicLink Playathon. Sue Wege, MusicLink Director of Coordinators, organized the event. The weekend activity was a great success, with 247 students performing, raising over $9,000 to support the MusicLink Foundation. Forty-eight teachers were represented, with seven emcee performances.

The piano dominated the stage, but there were also many string and vocal performances, as well as flute, guitar and harmonica. It was fun to have some larger string and vocal groups included this year. MMTA had a presence also with a table dedicated to MMTA information along with instruments for the Mall guests to check out.

The Playathon included a Popular Styles Hour for the second year. Sixteen students took part performing either piano solos or opting to perform with "The Katzen Jammers", a live band which included James Towns on bass, Beth Varela on drums and led by Doug Rohde on the keyboard. Special thanks to Doug for coordinating and emceeing this special hour. What a treat for these students to have this opportunity!

Many MMTA teachers volunteered at the event and even some Minnesota royalty helped out. The reigning Miss Minnesota Outstanding Teen, Rachel Wyandt, and the NAM Miss Minnesota Jr. Teen, Michelle Bergh, served as emcees along with many other local artists.

The top three fundraising studios were Marianne Bryan with 17 students ($1,165); Doug Rhode with 9 students ($1,050); and Kim Nichols with 15 students ($755).

Many thanks to Schmitt Music for providing a beautiful Boston grand piano and a Roland keyboard, to the MMTA Office for helping with online registration and publicity, to Gary Wege our loyal photographer and to all MMTA teachers who participated by sending students and volunteering. The money raised at this event will go a long way in providing more lessons, music, instruments and other musical opportunities to students in need.

This issue of the eLINK contains photos of all students who raised over $100 for the event. Students who raised over $250 received a $50 gift card as a reward for their efforts.


Carrying on the Love of Music

In Memoriam: Dean Bradwell Sheppard, Jr.

Dean Bradwell "Brad" Sheppard, Jr. was a devout percussionist and a member of the First Colonial High School Marching and Jazz Bands in Virginia Beach, VA and also attended the Governor's School for the Arts in Norfolk, VA. He played drums in several rock bands, but he was most dedicated to Nihilitia, a band rooted in Washington, DC. He dreamed of teaching percussion to others. He passed away unexpectedly at the age of 35 on January 3, 2016. Family and friends are making contributions in his name to MusicLink so that other kids will have the same music opportunities that he had. The Memorial Fund for Brad has raised over $1,800 for the MusicLink Foundation. These funds will be designated to the metropolitan DC MusicLink program, and will include camp scholarships in his name for MusicLink students.


2015: Senior Award Winner

The MusicLink Senior Award of Excellence is an award of $1000.00 made possible by the Arline and Russell Bridge Endowment Fund.

Emily Brother is a graduate of West Linn High School in Portland, OR and has been a piano student of Dorothy Fahlman for the past six years. She has won numerous competitions, including the MTNA Oregon State and Northwest Division Competitions in Senior Piano for 2015 and a two-time winner of the Young Artists Debut! Van Buren Concerto Competition for 2013 and 2015. She won the Portland Monday Musical Club scholarship in 2014, was the recipient of the Portland Beaux Arts Society scholarship in 2012, and has been a MusicLink Scholarship recipient.

Emily has been a featured performer in the Snowman Foundation's "Ten Grands" concerts for the past four years in Portland at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, and in Seattle at Benaroya Hall, as well as performing in "Ten Grands for Kids." Emily attended the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Brunswick, Maine in 2012 and 2013 where she studied with Ben Kim, and Yong Hi Moon respectively. She was an intern for the Portland Piano International Summer Festival and Portland Summer Ensembles in 2014.

In addition to her passion for music, Emily also enjoys math, science, Spanish, writing, and tennis. Emily is the Vice-President of her high school honor society, teaches piano to beginning students, and frequently volunteers her time performing piano recitals at senior retirement facilities.

Emily will attend Harvard University and plans to continue her music studies through the New England Conservatory of Music. "Whatever career goals I set in the coming years, my overarching life aspiration is to achieve a professional level of pianistic maturity. Although there may be a limit on the number of musicians who win international competitions, there will never be a limit on the number of pianists that can perform with an acute level of sensitivity, insight, passion and depth. I will be most satisfied if that is the level of playing that I achieve."


January, 2015: Minnesota - A MusicLink Gem of a State

Sue Wege & Sue Krebsbach at the MN playathon

We are not surprised that our winning teacher came from Minnesota because this is the most active state for MusicLink, thanks to the energy and commitment of Sue Wege, our Director of Regional Coordinators, who has personally coordinated the state's MusicLink program for the past 15 years. She pairs her efforts with conscientious teachers from the Minnesota Music Teachers Association, an organization that supports MusicLink by waiving fees for state events for MusicLink students. MMTA organizes an annual playathon at the Mall of America where hundreds of children venture out in Minnesota winter weather to enjoy sharing music at the mall in a festive event featuring several Miss Minnesota personalities plus other TV celebrities. These playathons annually raise over $10,000 for MusicLink. Minnesota MusicLink has established an annual $1000 senior scholarship in memory of Ruth Stenson, an outstanding MusicLink teacher.

Minnesota's first MusicLink student was linked with Sue Krebsbach in 1998 and Sue is still an active teacher in the program. A total of 356 Minnesota teachers reached over 1,340 students overall through MusicLink. That is equivalent to 63,000 hours of instruction, equivalent to $1.5 million of in-kind scholarship. The current student total is just over 200, so you can see why this state is a gem of a model for MusicLink!


August, 2014: Louise P. Zanar Fund
- A MusicLink Legacy Partner

Presentation - Rochelle Granat, Elizabeth McGrail,
Joanne Haroutounian, and Molly Daniels
Corey McGraw
(Photos by Ilene Cutler)

The Louise P. Zanar Fund has provided ongoing funding to support the MusicLink Washington DC Shining Stars program since 2009. Their 2013-14 grant of $10,000 provided lessons, instruments, piano moving, and camp opportunities. Executive Director Joanne Haroutounian recognized their ongoing generosity as a MusicLink Legacy Partner at the annual recital and fund-raiser held at Sidwell Friends School in July. Our thanks to Elizabeth McGrail, Molly Daniels and Rochelle Granat, board members of the Zanar Fund and to Chris Sharp who teaches and inspires our Shining Stars. From Elizabeth:"The Louise P. Zanar Fund greatly values our partnership with MusicLink and its mission to bring the power of creative expression to children. We have been particularly impressed and grateful for the positive impact Chris and MusicLink have had on the students."

The MusicLink Legacy Partner program recognizes individuals, organizations, and businesses who provide ongoing support for the MusicLink Foundation above $5000 annually. A MusicLink Legacy Partner packet with description and donation information is available at the link below.

Music Legacy Packet


May, 2014: Community Clean Sweep - Instruments and Music for MusicLink

Pam Kempfle donates music.

A Community Clean Sweep was organized in New Holland, Pennsylvania on April 26th from 9 - 12 noon. MusicLink Foundation was one of the recipients of the overwhelming generosity of the community. Stations were set up and cars would pass by and unload their wares to the station of choice and it was all well organized and very fast paced. Judy Vanesse, Northeast Redional Coordinator and her husband traveled from Vermont to receive boxes of music, keyboards, guitars, an amplifier, mandolin, bongo drum and 4 snare drums. Estimated value of these in-kind donations totals over $4000. They returned with a very full truck! They have already distributed quite a bit of music to MusicLink teachers, keyboards to MusicLink kids in need and all in all, it was an event to remember!~ Thank you to the organizers for including MusicLink!


2014: Senior Award Winners

Beth Winterfeldt and Christine Schwartz

Christine Schwartz, a student of Beth Winterfeldt (MN), is the recipient of the MusicLink Senior Award of Excellence, which recognizes a graduating senior who has shown outstanding musical progress and commitment through years of MusicLink lessons. The award of $1000 is provided by the Arline and Russell Bridge Endowment Fund. Christine has studied piano with Beth Winterfeldt for the past six years, and has received high distinction in the MMTA's Comprehensive Piano Exams and several times won the MMTA's Contest and Senior Young artist Festival. Her teacher describes her as a "delight to teach because of her dedication to her piano studies, her ambitious goals, her willingness to work hard and her respectful and mature personality."She will be attending Bethel University in St. Paul MN majoring in art and continuing her piano studies. Her thoughts on how music has impacted her life: "I have grown, matured, and been challenged through the discipline of music; I have also been comforted, encouraged and inspired by its melodies. Being given the privilege of studying music by my parents and teachers has been incredible."

Marissa Teetson, a voice and piano student of Jeanne Evans (MS), was also recognized with a MusicLink Foundation Achievement Honors Award of $500 for her achievement in MusicLink lessons. Marissa will seek a career in nursing while continuing her musical training. This award is also provided by the Arline and Russell Bridge Endowment Fund.

Rachel Ginter, a student of Linda Smith (MN), was awarded the Ruth Stenson MusicLink Award. This $1000 award recognizes a graduating high school senior from Minnesota who has shown outstanding achievement in musical training through MusicLink. Rachel will be attending MSU Moorhead majoring in piano performance with a jazz and studio emphasis.

She has an appreciation for a wide range of music and also enjoys writing music in her free time. Rachel writes: I know for a fact that I am blessed with this talent to play piano and I thank God for that. If it wasn't for MusicLink, I would be a different person. I will never be able to thank you enough!." (The second shows Rachel as a young girl who received a piano from MusicLink. How time flies!)

Josie Reil, a piano student of Heidi R. Zimmerman (MN), received the Ruth Stenson Achievement Honors award of $500. Josie plays the violin as well as piano and has enjoyed learning across classical, jazz, and contemporary styles of music. She performs with the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies and enjoyed summers with camp scholarships from the MusicLink Foundation.


2013: Senior Award Winners

Sun Chang

Sun Chang, a student of Dr. Peter Mack from Auburn WA, received the 2013 MusicLink Senior Award of Excellence. This award of $1000 recognizes a MusicLink student who has shown ongoing commitment to lessons, has made significant progress in lessons, and demonstrates outstanding achievement in music. Sun shares her achievements and goals:

"I'm extremely delighted for the upcoming years at Northwestern University in Illinois. As a dual degree candidate, I will be working towards degrees at Bienen School of Music and Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Over the last few years, thanks to the excellent teaching provided to me by Dr. Peter Mack, there has been much success in my competitive piano career. In 2011, my brother, Shin Chang, and I won the first prize at the MTNA National Senior Duet competition. In 2012, I was a finalist for the MTNA National Senior Solo division. This year, I was given the opportunity to perform with two amazing orchestras, Philharmonia Northwest, and the Utah Symphony, directed by Julia Tai and Vladimir Kulenovic, respectively. I am so thankful to MusicLink, Dr. Peter Mack, and other generous organizations and people for impacting my life in wondrous ways; I would not be who I am without their kindness. Thank you again for your support."

Jessica Bremseth and Kathleen Van Doeren

Jessica Bremseth, a piano student of Kathleen Van Doeren, received the Ruth Stenson MusicLink Award for 2013. This $1000 award recognizes a graduating high school senior from Minnesota who has shown outstanding achievement in musical training through MusicLink. Jessica has continually achieved superior plus ratings in the National Guild Auditions and passed the MMTA theory examinations with distinction. This year she was a winner in the MMTA SRA contest, performing in their honor recital. Jessica will be attending the University of St. Thomas.


2013: MusicLink Presents Research at MTNA Convention

Dr. Joanne Haroutounian, Executive Director of the MusicLink Foundation presented a session entitled "What Music Means to Me: A Study of Promising Students in Need" at the MTNA Convention in Anaheim CA. The session shared research findings from an analysis of nomination forms completed by teachers and parents and annual student evaluation forms. The research showed that our nomination form had high reliability (.86 - .91) and students overall showed a high level of potential talent rated by school teachers, independent teachers and parents (3.19 - 3.28 out of 4).

The research examined 3,000 student evaluation forms and compared progress differences in year 1, 3 and 5. Again, students showed relatively high evaluations overall (3.15 - 3.37 out of 4), with highest ratings in the area of repertoire progress. Qualitative analysis of comments made on evaluation forms showed the most prevalent comments (45%) dealt with the close relationship between the student, teacher, and parent as well as student commitment. Teachers also included comments on student creative interpretation (40%), practice (37%) and potential talent (34%).

Research is continuing to seek out "what music means to me" through interviews with prior MusicLink students who are now 18 years and older and were in the program at least five years. The study also includes interviews of their teachers and parents. This research should be completed by the end of the year and already includes valuable comments from these young adults:

"Some people are happy with winning awards or performing well at competitions, but I think what's more important is just to be able to think musically and think creatively and know how to interpret music and read it and listen to it. It's a really valuable skill that will carry with you the rest of your life."


2013: MusicLink Playathons and Promise to Practice
Events Raise $14,250 for MusicLink

Any organization can sponsor a playathon - with "kids helping kids" by sharing music with the community at malls and other public venues. Simply click on the playathon button on our Supporter Info page on our website and join the fun.

Students who gather pledges totaling over $25 receive a backpack. Those raising over $100 have photos in this eLink issue, with those raising over $250 awarded with an Ipod Shuffle or $50 gift card.

MN: The Minnesota MusicLink program held another successful Playathon at the Mall of America on the weekend of Feb. 9th/10th. Despite the snowstorm that moved in on Sunday, 221 students and 2 teachers performed in the Nordstrom Court raising over $10,700 for the work of the MusicLink Foundation. Forty two teachers were represented with students performing on piano, violin, flute, oboe, bassoon, guitar, and voice. Schmitt Music provided the beautiful Boston Grand piano for our pianists.

The 3 top fundraising studios were: Kim Nichols 35 students raised $1,743, Marianne Bryan's 18 students raised $1,195 • Grace Kopitske's 14 students raised $981.30. These are amazing amounts and a remarkable show of support. Sue Wege, Director of Regional Coordinators oversaw the playathon and sends kudos to everyone who helped to make this Playathon a great success.

VT/NH: The Upper Valley Playathon was held at the Powerhouse Mall in W. Lebanon, New Hampshire on May 4th. The Playathon included students from 5 piano studios and one cello studio and a former voice student of regional coordinator, Judy Vanesse, from Montpelier. The Playathon raised a total of $709. Shop owners voiced their happiness with the music and all wanted to know when the students would return. It was a fun day of continual music with very satisfying feedback.

VA: The Virginia Playathon was held on May 5th at the Tysons Corner Center in Vienna VA, with 58 students performing on piano, violin, viola, flute, clarinet, guitar, saxophone and Chinese harp. The students were from nine studios in the northern Virginia area. The playathon raised $2,186. Lai Lan Ko's studio had 28 students performing and raising $1,146 from this single studio! Once again the sound of music filled the air in the mall for shoppers to enjoy by sitting in the audience or simply passing by with a brief stop to listen.

IL: The Western Illinois University Collegiate Chapter of MTNA followed their annual tradition of a Promise to Practice week of solid practice by 25 college students raising pledges from faculty and friends. Thanks to Marina Nir and Amy Broadbent for helping organize the event. This dynamic college chapter raised $656 for the MusicLink Foundation and have inspired other college music organizations to consider a Promise to Practice event in the future. Check out our website for details (Supporter Info Page). From college to studio, one week to multiple months - promise to practice works!


2013: MusicLink Sends Kids to Camp

Nygel, Imala and Alastair Witherspoon

The MusicLink Foundation summer camp scholarship program provided over $5,200 in funding to help 25 MusicLink students attend camps in 10 different states. We enjoy reading the thank you letters from students who are sharing their camp experiences with us. Kaytlun Dardar enjoyed a LA camp experience by participating in a large ensemble, playing "The Pink Panther" with 11 other students. Mariana Pye composed an impressive piano solo, "Catching Shooting Stars," using computer notation software at the Abilene TX Summer Piano Camp.

Kaytlun Dardar (Middle)

The Witherspoon family - Imala, Alastair & Nygel - have enjoyed MusicLink camp scholarships to Bravo! String Institute at the Un. of MN for the past 7 years. They have grown into fine musicians, performing in violin, viola and cello, as you can see on the youtube link below. Alastair has been accepted at the Un. of MN School of Music as a PSEO student, receiving college credit while a junior in high school.

Witherspoon Youtube Link


2012: MusicLink Donates $2,200 to
Hurricane Sandy Relief in Long Island

Long Island Playathon

The MusicLink Foundation donated $2,200 to help the many homeless families in the Long Island area devastated by hurricane Sandy, thanks to the wonderful performances of over 60 Long Island students representing the studios of 6 teachers. Patricia Cestaro organized the playathon, which was held at Faust Harrison Piano Store in Huntington Station Long Island on December 2, 2012. The funds raised were designated to Habitat for Humanity and the Family Service League of Huntington NY.


December 2012: $20,000 Anniversary Fundraiser

Bill and Brigid Brakefield

MusicLink reached yet another goal in our 20th anniversary year. We raised over $20,000 in our 20th Anniversary fund-raiser through the summer – with a total of $28,164 raised by September 15th! We look forward to building on this solid foundation for a record year of donations in 2012. We reached our goal thanks to Bill and Brigid Brakefield, who matched donations up to $10,000 if reached by the September date. Our thanks to these generous donors, who have supported the MusicLink Foundation from the very beginning. Additional thanks to the Weissberg Foundation who contributed $5,500 to our 20th anniversary fund-raising event.


September 2012: Grass Roots and
Teacher Reimbursement Grants

The MusicLink Foundation provided Grass Roots grants totaling $2,300 in the 2011-12 school year to the following organizations and studios: DC MusicLink Program, Minnesota MTA, Tarra Guerra Studio (FL), Suzuki Institute of Augusta (GA), Judy Vanesse Studio (VT).

The following teachers received over $1,700 in total teacher reimbursement grants for events, fees and materials for their students: Linda Butler (WA), Julie Slingerland (VA), David Holmes (MN), Melody Payne (VA), Kelley Lyon (VT), Cheri Sykes (MN), Carole Gauthier (MD), Penni Daun Eads (UT), Verna Wagner (WA), Deborah Meier (IL), Rachel Winograd (VA), Karen Becker (MN), Maria Grant (MN), Kathleen Krouse (PA), Pam West-Carrasco (IA), Martha Yasuda (GA) Holly Kukkonen (IA), and Katherine Schelp (OK).


2012: Students Recitals

MusicLink students enjoyed performance experiences in recitals across the country through their studios and local music teacher organizations. The Northern Virginia Music Teachers Association joins forces with the City of Fairfax Commission on the Arts each year to present a MusicLink recital featuring students in the area. This year marked the seventh year of this joint venture.

NVMTA MusicLink recital in Fairfax VA


2012: Students Play and Practice to Raise Funds

MusicLink Playathons and Promise to Practice events grew in numbers across the country raising a grand total of $16,450. A Clavinova Festival in Illinois raised $533; a playathon in Saint Joseph, MO brought in $175; and Vermont and New Hampshire held a joint playathon that raised $1,691. In Virginia, the Fairfax-Loudoun Music Fellowship raised $1,000.and the Northern Virginia Music Teachers Association raised $2,426. Once again the Minnesota MusicLink Playathon at the Mall of America was a huge success raising $10,813.


2012: MusicLink Camp Scholarships

The MusicLink Foundation awarded camp scholarships worth a total of $5,252 to 32 MusicLink students who attended local summer programs in VA, WI, NH, CO and LA as well as the Un. Of MN Bravo String and Keyboard Institute; UW Madison Summer Music Clinic; South Dakota State University All State Music Camp; Un Southern Utah Piano Clinic.

Mariana Pye
Raquel Tapia at UW
Summer Music Clinic


September 2012: Instruments and
Music for MusicLink Students

The MusicLink Foundation received over $13,800 of in-kind donations of instruments and music this year, including over $25,000 in discounted and free music distributed directly to MusicLink teachers through our Business Partner discount program.


September 2012: New MusicLink Business Partners

MusicLink relies heavily on business support at the community level. We welcome the following new business partners to our roster this year: CT: Olympic Piano Movers, North Haven; Norm’s Piano Service, Manchester. ME: Starbird Music Shoppe, Portland; Johnstone Stringed Instrument Repair, Portland; Midtown Music, Biddeford; Guitar Center, S. Portland. NH: Allegro Piano Movers, Nashua; Blue Mountain Guitar Center, W. Lebanon; Bear Hollow Vintage Guitars, Lebanon; Ear Craft Music, Dover; Guitar Center, Nashua. NJ: Vienna Piano Company, Hackettstown; Guitar Center, Cherry Hill. RI: Beekman Violin, Inc., Peace Dale; Robert’s Musical Instruments, W. Warwick. VT: Green Mountain Piano Moving Company, Barre; Hilbert Pianos, Ltd., Bristol; Be Music, Rutland; Ellis Music Company, Bethel; Melody Hill Farm, Danville; Ruth Richards Piano Service, Cabot; David Gaillard Piano Tuning & Service, Hardwick; Lucy Allen Piano Service, Rutland. Canada: Ultimate Music Theory; Music for Young Children


October 2011: Challenge 5000
set by MusicLink Foundation

The MusicLink Foundation announced today that it is setting a goal of reaching 5,000 students nationwide by the end of 2012 to acknowledge the 20th anniversary of the MusicLink program. The foundation currently has active programs in 37 states and 4 Canadian provinces. Over 1,700 teachers have provided 300,000 hours of instruction to students in financial need, equivalent to $7.2 million in-kind donation since the inception of the program. The student count total as of October 1st is 4,600 and growing every day.

Marianne Yuan, our 4,500th student, was linked with Sherry Frush (TX), who is a MusicLink Teacher of Distinction, having taught over 75 MusicLink students over the past 13 years. Sherry personifies the dedication of our MusicLink teachers, who provide ongoing musical training for years to students who cannot afford lessons.


October 2011: Students Play & Practice
to Raise Funds for MusicLink

The 2010-11 year saw a growth in Playathon events to support our students, with a grand total of $23,540 in contributions to the MusicLink Foundation. The Minnesota MTA and Schmitt Music sponsored an event at the Mall of America raising $10,575. Three events were held in Virginia - One sponsored by the Northern Virginia Music Teachers Association and Steinway Gallery, raising $2,000, a holiday mall recital by students of the Fairfax, Louden Music Association raising $845, and an in-home Playathon held by Bill and Brigid Brakefield of Arlington VA, which raised $10,030. Our thanks to everyone who participated in these events - we know it is a win-win situation, and lots of fun!

Teachers and college student organizations used our unique "practicing" event - Promise to Practice - with pledges per hour raising funds for MusicLink. Any teacher can inspire students to practice to prepare for that upcoming festival or recital through this event. Our thanks to the Western Illinois student MTA chapter who pledged to do the event each year prior to the holiday break - with one week of practice making a difference to our kids.


September 2011: MusicLink Camp Scholarships

The MusicLink Foundation provides the opportunity for students to attend the music camp of their choice through our camp scholarship program. This year we sent 21 students to camps across the country with scholarships totaling $4,560. Students attended local summer programs in Minneapolis MN and DeRidder LA as well as the following summer programs: MN: Un. of MN Bravo String and Keyboard Institute; WI: UW Madison Summer Music Clinic; GA & OR: Atlanta Suzuki Institute and Oregon Suzuki Institute; IA: Preucil School of Music Chamber Music Camp; NJ: Westminster Choir College Vocal Institute; SD: South Dakota State University All State Music Camp.


September 2011: Teacher Reimbursement
& Grass Roots Grants

The MusicLink Foundation provides reimbursement to teachers for student music and event fees. This year, 18 teachers from 13 different states asked for help, totaling $1,660 in reimbursement grants.

Our Grass Roots grant programs assist new MusicLink programs or projects. This year the foundation provided $3,500 to the following organizations to promote state and local programs: MN: Minnesota Music Teachers Association - MusicLink Program; GA: Sage School; NY: Music School at Dutchess Community College - MusicLink Program; GA: Grace Piano Academy; MN: Franklin Music Magnet MusicLink Program; DC: Washington DC MusicLink Program; FL: Suzuki Strings of Southern Florida.


September 2011: Instruments
& Music for MusicLink Students

We received over $19,578 in-kind donations of instruments and music in the 2010-11 school year, not including over $25,000 in discounted and free music distributed directly to MusicLink teachers through our Business Partner discount program. We thank the many people who donated instruments to local programs and special thanks to Hal Leonard Publishers for providing over $4,600 worth of new sheet music for our students.


September 2011: New MusicLink Business Partners

MusicLink relies heavily on business support at the community level. We welcome the following new business partners to our roster this year: CA: Guitar Center, Inc., Westlake Village; New Songs School of Music, Sacramento. FL: Creative Keys, Inc., Dunedin. NH: Handmademusic, Inc., Manchester; Bywater Piano Service, Lebanon. NJ: Ed Sueta Music Publications, Inc., Rockaway. RI: Rizzotti Studio of Music, Providence. VT: Frederick Johnson Pianos, Inc., White River Junction; Advance Music Center/Musicraft, Burlington & Waitsfield; GuitarSam, Montpelier, Vermont Violins, Montpelier.


October 2010: MusicLink Foundation
Recognized by Foundations

We are pleased to have a renewed presence on the Catalogue for Philanthropy website for 2010-11. The catalogue recognizes outstanding non-profit organizations in the Washington DC metropolitan area. The City of Fairfax Commission on the Arts has provided a grant for $1,250 to provide support for the MusicLink northern Virginia program, which includes lessons by MusicLink teachers, performances, instruments, and music. The Louise Zanar P. Fund of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region will continue support of the DC MusicLink program this year, with a grant of $4,000.

The Philip L. Graham Fund, associated with the Washington Post, also recognizes the value of the MusicLink Foundation in the programming that has reached 700 promising students in need in the Washington DC metropolitan area. The fund has awarded the MusicLink Foundation a grant in the amount of $10,000 for instruments and program costs to help us reach our Challenge 5000 goal (reaching 1000 students in the DC area is part of this goal).


October 2010: Benefit Recital
at Belmont Mansion in Washington DC

The IBIS Chamber Music Society presented a Benefit Recital for the MusicLink Foundation in October at the historic Belmont Mansion in Washington DC. The recital was sponsored by the Admiral Richard C. Byrd Masonic Foundation and Federal Lodge No. 1 FAAM and raised $3,000 for the MusicLink Foundation. The afternoon of beautiful music performed by extraordinary musicians in a magnificent setting was enjoyed by a sold-out crowd. Our thanks to Paul Dolinsky, who initiated and developed this benefit recital as well as Lodge members who worked tirelessly to create a true music-ballroom setting for the recital, complete with champagne. The Masonic Foundation hopes to plan future annual events to raise funds to bring music to the lives of our MusicLink students.


November 2010: Earth Wind and Fire
Guitar & Concert Auction

MusicLink recently used Charitybuzz, an online auction website that works with top charities and celebrities, to auction an Earth, Wind and Fire "celebrity experience". The package included an autographed Earth, Wind and Fire guitar and concert tickets and backstage passes to the band's concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The package brought in over $1,000 to benefit MusicLink. As a result of this success, MusicLink plans on using this website to auction other items in the future!

The Music Link Foundation raised $6,000 through an on-line auction of a series of four guitars personally signed by Verdine White, Ralph Johnson and Philip Bailey of the legendary R&B band, Earth, Wind and Fire. The guitars, along with 40 guitars for MusicLink students, were donated by the Gibson Foundation, and signed by EWF at a concert in Richmond on November 14, 2006. Pictured is Verdine White with the four guitars in Washington, DC and the first guitar sold at auction.


May 2010: MusicLink Senior Awards of Excellence

The MusicLink Foundation annually provides a $1,000 Senior Award of Excellence to a graduating MusicLink senior who has shown outstanding progress through their years of musical training in the program. These awards are sponsored by The Arline and Russell Bridge Endowment Fund. Additional sponsors have contributed funds for $1000 awards to seniors as well. The Marilyn Costello Award of Achievement was presented to several Virginia MusicLink students (07-08) and the Harry Kirkpatrick Achievement Award is an ongoing award for a Virginia MusicLink graduating senior. The Minnesota MusicLink program has established the Ruth Stenson Award, again honoring a graduating senior with an award of $1,000. Shown is Sue Wege, Director of MusicLink Coordinators, Melissa Just, Ruth Stenson award winner 2010, and Raeanna Gislason, Melissa's teacher. For information on all student award winners, please see our Profiles page.


Music Celebrities Join MusicLink Advisory Board

The MusicLink Foundation welcomes Marvin Hamlisch, eminent composer and conductor; André Watts, international concert pianist; and Verdine White of Earth Wind and Fire as new members to its advisory board. We are thrilled to be recognized as one of only two charities supported by Earth Wind and Fire, and thank Mr. Watts for agreeing to sign autographs at an artist-photograph signing event in Virginia.

In their own words:

"Bringing music into the lives of our children means bringing imagination, enthusiasm, discipline and the joy of creation into their world. Expanding personal vistas for the youth of today makes for a better world of tomorrow. Music transcends fear and hate, and it is the most pleasurable duty imaginable to bring this to our young people."
-- André Watts

"Too often I have heard stories about children who display a musical gift at an early age, but because of lack of funds in their family they were unable to pursue that gift. So it is a wonderful thing to know that MusicLink is an organization that comes to the rescue of these talented kids."
-- Marvin Hamlisch

"The MusicLink Foundation is a perfect forum for young people to learn about music, to learn about performing, and most of all, to learn about themselves. Without the arts, society can't grow and I think the MusicLink Foundation is the perfect way for young people, at the beginning of their training and the beginning of their adult lives to learn about music and the arts and have a lot of fun."
--Verdine White


Yamaha Clavinova Festivals Partner with MusicLink

The MusicLink Foundation has a partnership with Yamaha Clavinova Festivals that provides ways to promote the program to many new teachers as well as raise funds for MusicLink programs nationwide.

Students of teachers who have signed up for the festivals "promise to practice" a certain number of hours for one week in the month prior to the festival. They collect pledges from friends and family of so many dollars per hour of practice. As a reward for achieving their practice goal, MusicLink sends a "success" pin to each student. Students who collect $25 or more in donations receive tote bags. Students who raise $250 in donations receive an IPOD Shuffle or comparable prize. Each teacher that takes part in Promise to Practice also gets a tote bag.

Any music teacher or group can choose to take part in our Promise to Practice fund raising event, regardless of participation in Yamaha festivals. If you are interested in helping our kids with music, instruments, and camp scholarships, email us and we will send a Promise to Practice packet free of charge.

We look forward to sending pins, tote bags and shuffles to students across the country!

If you are a music teacher or student, you can support the program through our Promise to Practice program. It is a great way to encourage solid weeks of practice towards a performance, recital or festival goal and raise money for our kids as well. Students get "success" pins, totebags (raising $25 or more) an IPOD shuffle (raising $250 or more). Click on the link below to download our Promise to Practice packet:

 Promise to Practice 


May 2009: CD and DVD Produced thanks to MTNA Grant

We thank the MTNA Foundation for providing a $5,000 grant to produce a new promotional DVD called "Faces of MusicLink" and a double CD of student performances titled "MusicLink Shining Stars - A Student Showcase." Joanne Haroutounian personally presented our first copies of these wonderful media PR products to Gary Ingle at the MTNA Conference in Atlanta in March. We thank Brian Chung and the MTNA Foundation for their support of our efforts to showcase the outstanding talents of our students and the array of profiles featured on our DVD that reflect the many aspects of our program.

The following students are featured on our double MusicLink Shining Stars CD: Vladislav and Yuri Boguinia (CO), Tram Bui (OR), Diana Fang (VA), Ik Hoon Jung (OR), Kevin Lu (VA), Dasha Poroshina (OF), Araxi Sayadian (IL), Kai Talim (OR), Alistair, Imala, and Nygel Witherspoon (MN). You can hear excerpts of their performances on our Profiles page.

Faces of MusicLink can be seen on our website. It portrays the program through the voices, faces, and music of our students, teachers, coordinators, and parents - from MN, DC, OR, and Mexico. The DVD ($25) and CD ($15) are available through website orders or emailing the national office.


June 2008: Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
Provides Support for MusicLink

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation provided support for the MusicLink Foundation in the amount of $283,000 over a four-year period (2004 - 2008). Grant funding provided training for MusicLink coordinators, supported the MusicLink staff, and helped develop long-term planning to expand operations to new areas of the country.

"We are thrilled to be able to expand our program through this grant, and reach hundreds more promising students who crave music lessons but cannot afford them. This funding will allow our networking system to link with more volunteer teachers to provide ongoing instruction to these students for as long as they wish to learn," said Dr. Joanne Haroutounian.

The MusicLink Foundation is one of a handful of pipeline organizations assisting the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation seek out eligible students for several of their scholarship programs. Through its nationwide network of teachers, students and business partners, MusicLink will help "From the Top," a weekly radio program featuring the country's top student musicians, identify talented young musicians whose financial background qualify them for one of the program's 25 scholarships worth $10,000. Qualified 7th grade students can apply for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation's Young Scholars Program, which offers thousands of dollars of scholarship support over many years of secondary school study.

For information about these applications:


June 2008: MusicLink Students Chosen as Cooke Foundation Young Scholars

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation provides thousands of dollars in scholarships to exceptionally talented students in financial need. These awards are very competitive with only 40 students chosen each year nationwide. We are proud of the MusicLink students who received Jack Kent Cooke Scholarships.

Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship Recipients:

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation provides thousands of dollars in scholarships to exceptionally talented students in financial need. These awards are very competitive with only 40 students chosen each year nationwide. We are proud of the following MusicLink students who received Jack Kent Cooke Scholarships:

2006: OR: Andrea Johnson was a 16 year old pianist studying with Elizabeth Stern of Milwaukie Oregon when she received the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award in the amount of $10,000 and had the opportunity to perform on From the Top. Andrea attended Portland State University and will receive a Bachelor of Music degree in June 2010.

2006: VA: 13 year old Kevin Lu of Newport News was chosen as a Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholar, receiving ongoing support from 7th -12th grade to pursue his musical and academic studies. He was a student of Theresa Compos Falk of Yorktown. The award has provided Kevin ongoing financial support for academic and musical training.

2007: CA: Stephanie Duong, 12 year old pianist and violinist from Riverside was chosen as a Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholar. She was a piano student of Nancy Buck and violin student of Laura Balisky. MusicLink provided Stephanie and her sister violins to assist in their lessons. The award provided her with financial support for her musical training and secondary schooling Her sister, Emily, received the Young Scholar Award in 2007.

2008: WA: Vanessa Woodard, a 12-year-old MusicLink student of Brandy Pancoast of Colville, Washington, is our second recipient of this year's Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholar Award. In her own words: After weeks gathering and compiling information to complete the Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholars application, the foundation scheduled a phone interview. "I was so nervous, I fumbled for answers and thought for sure I bombed the interview and any chance of being chosen." Months later, she received a large large, stuffed envelope. "My mom opened the parcel and read the enclosed letter to me. My mom started screaming, 'You got the scholarship; you were chosen as a Young Scholar!' I couldn't believe I had actually been chosen out of all those applicants," Vanessa immediately e-mailed her friends and posted it on Facebook. She found herself wondering "...what opportunities were awaiting me?" Vanessa has studied piano with Brandy Pancoast for 5 years. "I love the piano. I play whenever I get the chance; it is so relaxing and peaceful. There are so many, many, many pieces I am longing to learn. Brandy Pancoast said, "I am thrilled for Vanessa. She is the type of student who works extremely hard and you are excited when that effort is recognized and rewarded. This scholarship will open up many possibilities for her that would not have been possible without the extra financial help. This is a wonderful gift for her."


June 2008: Memorial Funds
Provide Musical Legacies

A number of donors have chosen MusicLink Foundation as a way to create a lasting tribute for a loved one through memorial funds that provide scholarships for camp, music and materials for students, or specific requests for use of funds. We acknowledge our appreciation for the following memorial funds for MusicLink:

  • Julia Haynes Memorial Fund in memory of a young five year old tragically killed in a car accident
  • Judith Ferencz Scholarship Fund in memory of a devoted MusicLink teacher
  • Russell and Arline Bridge Endowment Fund in memory of parents who loved music and education
  • Sarah Guerrant Memorial Fund in memory of a dedicated piano teacher and loving parent

2007: National Summit features Tim Page as Speaker 

The MusicLink Foundation held its second national summit June 29- July 1, 2007 at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Thanks to a grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, MusicLink regional coordinators, teachers and students from across the country convened to hear panel discussions, to receive training, develop strategic planning and share pointers on linking with schools, students and businesses to build the program in new states. The summit also featured Tim Page, music critic for the Washington Post as guest speaker.

MusicLink students gave a recital in the university’s Center for the Arts spotlighting the full range of student potential, from beginning to advanced levels. The program included piano solos and duets, plus violin and vocal performance. Performers included many local Virginia students as well as students traveling from Colorado, Minnesota, and Utah.

2007: Student Overcomes Asperger's Syndrome 

As a sixth grader, Mike Brown, of Lake Oswego, Oregon, believed he would never learn to read music. Now 15 years old and a sophomore in high school, Mike is a Leonard Method Books Level 4 pianist who not only sightreads music but also sight sings as an “A” music student. Under the piano tutelage of Carole Lindell-Ross for four years, Mike has benefited from a dedicated partnership forged by his high school choral teacher, Liz Sera, and his junior high choir director, DeeAnn Sands.

Mike recently earned his first Gold Cup Trophy in piano theory at Festival, successfully auditioned as a tenor for the Lake Oswego High School a cappella choir for the fall and performed piano solos at Festival, retirement centers and 15 student recitals. He will solo with the LO Choir at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, during Memorial Day weekend in May for a choral workshop.

Mike said that the Leonard note speller series through MusicLink, along with the one-on-one attention of his piano teacher, helped him make such progress. He recalled that he was almost two years into piano lessons when he realized his capability to read basic piano notation independently had turned into reality. The joy of such achievement was reflected in Mike’s school work and his self-esteem, according to his mother, Becky Lukens.

Mike lives with his mother and grandmother, Georgianna Lukens, who contacted Carole for weekly lessons. She believed that Mike’s innate musicality could be reached through individual lessons. Mike’s untrained tenor voice reminded her of her own brothers’ voices, both of whom had excelled in vocal music. One was even a scholarship student as the lead tenor in the Yale Glee Choir in the 1960s.

Before he could read music, Mike used his voice to learn the music pitches during private piano lessons. He started with simple linear selections from Hal Leonard Publications as well as from the Federated Music lists. At the time, two fingers on his left hand suffered from nerve damage, but gradually, during four years of repeated pentascales and single-handed playing, Mike developed use of all his fingers. While playing chords with both hands still causes difficulty, Mike is able to play Diabelli & Turk.

I had never before taught autistic children nor had any special training in working with autism, but I learned how to instruct Mike during the course of two years when his mother would attend lessons with him. I believed in Mike’s ability to use his voice to unlock the music inside him. We both enjoy Mike’s good-humored personality and his can-do attitude, which kept us both motivated during the long process to read and write music. His ability to laugh at his mistakes and then to try again are lessons for all of us.

2006: MusicLink Student Wins $10,000 Cooke Young Artist Scholarship 

Andrea Johnson, a 16 year old pianist from Milwaukie Oregon, was one of 25 students chosen nationwide to receive the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award in the amount of $10,000 to further her musical talents. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation paired with the radio program, From the Top to to identify and nurture talented young musicians whose lack of financial resources might otherwise impede their progress. Recipients have the opportunity to perform on a live taping of From the Top and participate in Cultural Leadership Training to become community advocates for the arts through outreach activities. Andrea recently performed live at a taping in Dallas, Texas which was well received by the audience as well as the staff of From the Top. Personality plus!

Andrea has studied with Elizabeth Stern since the age of 10, and has been a consistent winner of competitions connected with the Oregon Music Teachers Association as well as first alternate at the national level Baldwin and Yamaha MTNA competitions. She has performed concertos with the Vancouver Symphony, Oregon Sinfonietta, and as a Young Artist at the Schnitz Concerto Concert. In 2005, Andrea took part in the Nordstrom Young Talent Program, performing in Nordstrom stores across the state of Oregon.

Andrea has been a MusicLink student for the past two years and received a camp scholarship to assist in attendance at the International Institute for Young Musicians at the University of Kansas in the summer of 2005. She also attended the Texas Music Festival High School Piano Instute for several summers.

Andrea is a twelfth grade home-schooled student and attends classes at New Covenant Christian Academy and Clackamas Community College. She is deeply involved in drama performances of Shakespeare plays when she is not busy teaching her 13 private piano students.


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Teresa Sanchez
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THANKS for helping us reach our Silver Anniversary goal of $100,000.00. Help us raise funds for instruments and lessons in 2018! $35,312.32 so far.
35.31% of the way!