Spreading The Gift of Music to Everyone

Somewhere, where one would think it should be quiet, there is the sweet sound of music playing, from different instruments and voices. Sometimes there is an audience, and sometimes there are students. Whatever the situation may be, music is being played with the organization Music Above All.

“What we do is spread the gift of music in the Dallas and Fort Worth area,” junior and board member Michael Lam said. “I just want people to know how amazing music is.”

Music Above All which works to empower the composers and performers of next year, is a certified non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization created in 2013, and incorporated in 2015. The non-profit is run entirely by high school students, and focuses on spreading musical education throughout North Texas with events and fundraisers in which the organization participates in.

“It all started out as a club at Jasper in 2013, as just a bunch of friends who wanted to get together and do the normal music volunteering things such as playing at senior homes,” President Jett Wang said. “Later they decided they wanted to grow into something bigger, so in 2015 when the original founders were at Plano West they incorporated Music Above All and made it into a certified non-profit organization, which gives us the ability to get grants and ads, run events and get donations from our donors which are tax exempt.”

The organization, which was just created in one of the junior high schools, is prompt on staying as a local group, offering their help to the cities and communities around them.

“I want people to know that we are never going be a big non-profit organization with thousands of dollars coming in and different chapters,” Wang said. “Were always going to be this small operation, here in Plano, but even though we are in high school we are still going to try and make as much a difference as we can.”

One of the challenges that Music Above All faces with it being solely based on high school members, is that the board membership turns over every two years, as students head off to college.

“Keeping an established routine, and making events and connections that will last, while our leadership is constantly changing is a big challenge,” Wang said. “But we are working with the community that we know and love, so were incentivized to make a difference and that will always be our priority.”

Most of the activities consist of going to community centers, schools, libraries and performing and showing kids what music is all about. They hold a variety of events throughout the year as well as hold fundraisers to help raise money for their cause such as buying instruments for students who do not have their own.

“We run three main projects: the Harmony Fund, Project Aspire and Project Inspire,” Vice President Jessica Qiu said. “The Harmony Fund is a scholarship fund dedicated to helping fund the musical education of financially disadvantaged students. If students come to us needing instruments or supplies, we can use our scholarship fund to give them some financial support. Project Aspire is our initiative for our members, who are mostly composed of high school and college students, to gain real-world enriching experience in performing. We hold ticketed events and have gigs at local establishments around Plano so that our members can gain performance experience. Project Inspire is our outreach program designed to provide lessons and musical exposure to our local community. Since all of our members were products of the incredibly supportive musical community of North Texas, we knew that we wanted to prioritize reaching out to students in our community so they would experience the same musical education we were fortunate enough to have.”

Music Above All has a main focus of giving children the chance to experience music in a way that may not have always been available to them.

“We are here to spread the love and education of music throughout the community especially to kids that do not normally get the ability to financially or otherwise be exposed to classical music,” Wang said. “There are so many individuals and their stories out there and even in just the suburbs of plano there is a world of difference you can make.”

There are several different programs put in place to adapt to the needs and situations of different children in the community.

“Right now personally I am working on an afterschool program,” Lam said. “So after school I am planning that we could have some members go to these children and teach them to play different instruments such as the trumpet or even to sing.”

Lam felt a personal personal connection when he was interning at Agape Resources and Assistance Center, which is an organization that provides assistance to families who do not have both parents, or parents who are always working.

“Those kids I helped out with that summer were so sweet and they were not very privileged,” Lam said. “But knowing that we were able to help them and seeing that our hard work paid off is the best part. I hope Music Above All branches out one day so we can have a larger impact. I want to try these programs I am working so these children have the opportunity to succeed.”

Music Above All is there to spread holiday cheer with music to their community with their most recent event.

“In early December, we had eight members go to play at a Santa themed workshop event at the Children’s Hospital,” Wang said. “They wanted entertainment to spread holiday cheer, so the organizer of the event actually reached out to Mr. Ross the orchestra director, because we had done it before and then he told us about the opportunity.”

Another event the organization does is live streams, from which the proceeds from those and events go straight to the Harmony Fund, which helps cover instrument and supply expenses. The support from students is also highly encouraged.

“Having our peers support this cause means so much to us,” Qiu said. “It would mean that we are able to change more lives and introduce more students to the transformative experience of music.”

The organization is simple and consist of the board who serves as the leadership team and who arranges initiatives and events.

“Music above all consists of 40 members and seven board members. People part of the organization are all qualified musicians,” Wang said.  “We are always up for new faces to help spread music.”

Students interested basically just fill out an application and then film a video where they play an instrument and also submit a photo so they know what you look like. Once it is submitted, you will get a response after one to two weeks.

“All of our members go through an audition process in order to be selected so we can ascertain whether they are truly passionate about our cause and if they have the skill to teach and perform on an advanced level,” Qui said. “Together, we hope to spread musical education to as many students as possible because after all music is a right, not a privilege.”

Not only do the members make an impact on the community and the people around them, but they are given a chance to gain experience for themselves and obtain more skills that will aid them in their future endeavours.
“Joining is a super unique experience for members because they do get performance experience like if they need to practice for auditions or all region,” Wang said. “They also get teaching experience from being with children at different events and teaching them to make music and of course serving the community.”

Music Above All is an impactful organization that is local and contributing to its community and school. The goals they achieved and people they affected have helped spread the education of music to all those near them and will for future generations to come.

“There is a lot of things we take for granted and I think music is one of them,” Lam said. “I feel like sometimes music is underrated, but being in the community and the lessons you learn from music is awesome and to be able to share that gift with everyone else is truly amazing.”