5 Questions With VH1 Save The Music’s Henry Donahue

Over the last 20 years, the VH1 Save The Music Foundation has provided millions of dollars in funding to music education programs at more than 2,000 public schools across the U.S.

We recently talked with Henry Donahue, vice president and executive director of the Foundation, about the positive impact the organization is having on students’ lives and how it’s celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Here’s what Donahue has to say about his work with VH1 Save The Music Foundation:

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VH1 Celebrates 20 Years of Saving the Music with 20 Custom Gibson Guitars

Those passing in and out of Viacom’s Times Square Headquarters throughout June found a collection of Gibson Les Paul guitars nestled in a sunlit corner of the lobby. The exhibit flows effortlessly with the building’s groovy aesthetic, and could easily be an installation at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. It’s the brainchild of VH1 Save The Music Foundation, executed in collaboration with Art at Viacom and over 40 renowned visual artists and musicians.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of VH1 Save The Music, the artists worked in pairs to create 20 stunning, ornate instruments—enough to make any music fiend, art collector or investor swoon. And they will get their chance to do more than just admire them when VH1 Save The Music auctions off these guitars in October, partnering with Julien’s Auctions Los Angeles as part of their Idols & Icons: Rock and Roll sale. The proceeds are expected to fund musical instruments for at least 30 school band programs in the U.S.

Until then, these guitars are on tour—starting at Viacom headquarters and touring the New York-metro area until the fall, so fans and admirers can appreciate the majestic endeavor.

The Gibson installation at Viacom Headquarters. Photo by Bart Stadnicki.

I spoke with VH1 Save The Music Executive Director Henry Donahue to learn more about what promoted this massive, creative collaboration, and what he hopes to achieve with such campaigns.

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VH1’s Save The Music Rang In 20th Anniversary With Very Special Instrument: NASDAQ’s Closing Bell

Since 1996, VH1’s Save The Music Foundation has let classrooms across the country ring out with harmony. On Oct. 17, the nonprofit celebrated its 20th anniversary by ringing a different type of instrument—NASDAQ’s Closing Bell.

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VH1 Save The Music Foundation rings the NASDAQ closing bell on Oct. 17, 2016. Photo by Christopher Galluzzo / Nasdaq, Inc.

“We’re proud to have Viacom part of the NASDAQ family of companies,” said NASDAQ Vice President David Wicks. “The benefits of music education are truly astounding. Studies have shown the immensely positive effect that music education has on a child’s academic performance, sense of community, self-expression, and self-esteem.”

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Here’s How VH1 Saved the Music in 2015

One of my fondest memories of elementary school was learning to play the recorder. I cherished the cheap, plastic instrument as if it were a silver flute. I remember the thrill of learning to create notes and harmonies with my classmates. I’m sure our beautiful melodies were abrasive to adult ears, but to us they were magical.

My music career petered out after grade school. I ditched the violin for the school newspaper. Even though I’m not a recorder maestro, my early foundation of music education has had lasting benefits.

I’m not the only one. Studies show that children who take music lessons have a greater understanding of language, and score higher on spelling tests. They are more likely to stay in school, and more likely to graduate. Childhood music lessons can even improve memory later in life.

But when schools face budget cuts, music programs are often the first to go. That’s why VH1 Save The Music Foundation is on a mission to put instruments back in the hands of children across the country. Since 1997, the nonprofit has kept the music alive by providing more than $50 million in new musical instruments to our public schools.

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Trell Thomas at school giving an instrument delivery with A Great Big World and Sponsor Alex + Ani for VH1 Save the Music.

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Saving The Music With Jennah Bell and Rotimi

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The VH1 Save the Music Foundation​ is committed to ensuring that musical instruction remains central to a well-rounded education. And what better way to underscore that point than with live music? Last week, VH1 Save The Music, and Viacommunity supporters gathered in celebration of Black History Month to watch an intimate performance from Jennah Bell and Rotimi.

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Vote Now: Viacom’s Witness Campaign Joins Corporate Citizenship Standouts in Film Festival Competition

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Cast in dazzling lightshows high on the hulking facades of half a dozen New York City buildings, the launch of Viacom’s Witness campaign late last year was hard to miss. Normally hard-charging New Yorkers halted on sidewalks to gape at the elegant projection mappings, inspirational messages digitally stitched into the architecture high above. This three-night flume of light and motion was a sort of fireworks show announcing Viacom’s partnership with international human rights organization Witness, which equips people to use video to create change.

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