Notes For Education Commits To Multi-Year Investment In Metro Nashville Public Schools’ Music Programs

Pictured (L-R): Mike Sistad, ASCAP VP of Membership; Julie Meirick, Notes For Education Board Member and Co-Founder; Jeff Smith, Director of Arts, Metro Nashville Public Schools; Debi Leal, President and Co-Founder, Notes for Education; Erika Wollam Nichols, COO/GM, The Bluebird Cafe. Photo: Ed Rode

Notes for Education, an organization founded by Nashville music professionals and Napa Valley wine industry professionals to support arts education for today’s youth, is celebrating a decade of investing in Metro Nashville Public Schools’ music education programs by providing a 3-year gift with up to $100,000 per year in funding for a total of almost $300,000. The discretionary funding will allow for each teacher to fill immediate needs in their classrooms without spending out of their own pockets. Notes for Education has committed to supporting music education in MNPS by pledging $500 per music teacher each year for the next three years.

Partnered with organizations such as ASCAP, Suntrust Bank and The Bluebird Café, co-founders Julie Meirick and Debi Leal founded Notes for Education when they noticed the similarities between their industries of music business and wine making—often with the creators of the music or the wine being unknown with only the products of their passion receiving recognition. With the intention of highlighting the entire process of collaboration that is required within these industries and with respect to the inherent necessity to reach out to our communities, NOTES was formed to support arts education for today’s youth. Thus, NOTES began organizing events that brought together accomplished songwriters, winemakers, authors and visual artists to raise funds to support arts and literacy programs for the children of our communities. The Board members of NOTES are accomplished professionals in the industries of music, arts and winemaking.

Over 70 hit songwriters have donated their time and talent to NOTES events, including Chris Stapleton, Carly Pearce, Brothers Osborne, Brandy Clark, Eric Paslay and more. Acclaimed vintners who have participated in these events include Gargiulo Vineyards, Silver Oak, Trespass, Knight’s Bridge, Phifer Pavitt, Silver Trident and Mt. Brave.

“When we started Notes for Education over a decade ago, we had a dream that our funds would someday reach every student in the Metro Nashville Public Schools system. Today, it is very humbling and rewarding to see that dream become a reality. We are thrilled to provide this level of ongoing support to students in Music City,” said Leal, president and co-founder of Notes for Education.

“We kept going back to, ‘What do they need in their classrooms?’ And we talked a lot and came up with this program, ‘If Only I Had…‘ for teachers to just dream. ‘What if I had $1,000, what could I do with it?” said Meirick, board member and co-founder of Notes for Education. “We decided that was the thing we should do, just reach out to teachers and say, ‘What do you need in your classrooms?’ It’s about what that teacher uses to teach.

“We can’t do any of this without teachers. Nobody thanks the administration or the school system, they always go back and thank a teacher. When they’re older and they go back and think, ‘What impacted me?’ it’s always a teacher. We can have the best school system, we can spend money, but we can’t do it without [teachers.] This is basically a love letter to Nashville music teachers,” Meirick said.

Pictured (L-R): Jeff Smith, Director of Arts, Metro Nashville Public Schools; Nita Smith, I.T. Creswell Middle School; Laura Verdone, Lakeview Elementary; John Womack, Martin Luther King Jr School; Rita Black, Glendale Elementary; Debi Leal, President and Co-Founder, Notes for Education; Kim Marie Folsom, Dan Mills Elementary; Julie Meirick, Notes For Education Board Member and Co-Founder; Erika Wollam Nichols, COO/GM, The Bluebird Cafe; Mike Sistad, Vice President of Membership, ASCAP. Photo: Ed Rode

“ASCAP is proud to have been a partner with Notes for Education since the beginning. We are so grateful for all of the songwriters that have participated in NOTES events, both here in Nashville and in Napa over the past ten years. It feels great to see the money we’ve helped raise used to support music education for so many deserving young students,” said ASCAP Vice President of Membership, Mike Sistad.

“We are grateful to the board and sponsors at Notes for Education for their commitment to investing in the work of every music teacher in Metro Nashville Public Schools through this generous gift,” said Director of Arts for MNPS, Jeff Smith. “Through multi-year support of every music classroom, Notes for Education is helping to ensure the success of every music student and teacher.”


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LB Cantrell is Project Manager at MusicRow magazine. She heads up specific, large-scale projects for the company and assists in day-to-day tasks. LB also manages the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart and contributes editorial for both the print and online platforms. She joined MusicRow full time in January of 2019, after interning and working part time for the company for a year. She is from Blairsville, Georgia and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Music Business degree in 2018.

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