Our new Music for All Impact series will introduce you to some of the incredible advocates of Music for All as they share their stories of Music for All’s impact on them and why there were compelled to pay it forward to ensure that others feel that impact as well. In today’s spotlight, we are thrilled to introduce you to Ric and Jeannette Coons.
Ric and Jeannette distributing "Team Texas" shirts before CTJ's 2019 Grand Nationals trip.
How did you become involved with Music for All?
My first introduction to Music for All (MFA) was in 2011. Our oldest daughter was a freshman guard member in the Claudia Taylor Johnson H.S. band program. The program competed in Houston and made their first trip to Grand Nationals in Indy and my wife and I followed the band there to watch them compete and make finals. That was when I realized that this was far different than the marching bands I grew up with in the 80’s in California.
What attracted you to the cause?
Music was a very important part of growing up for me. It was what kept me engaged in school from 4th grade through high school and taught me life lessons that I have used in my adult life and career for the past 35 years. The more I learned about MFA outside of just the marching arts with the Summer Symposium and National Festival as well as the music advocacy programs that work to ensure that every child has access and opportunity to have music education as part of their scholastic environment, I felt the need to support it.
What is your favorite Music for All memory?
While there are many, the 2019 Grand National Championships were special to my wife and me. We attended in 2011 with our freshman daughter competing. We returned in 2019 with our freshman son competing and our adult daughter getting to experience the event as a spectator cheering for her brother. Announcing our program as the Esprit de Corps award winner – it just reminds us of the lessons that our kids are learning as part of their programs and the life value it brings to our kids and families.
What impact has music education had on your life?
Friendships that we have made in our programs, as well as in programs from across the country, have been amazing. The process of learning to be a part of something bigger than yourself has been impactful, as well as learning the passion and dedication required to reach a purpose or goal.
What does Music for All's mission mean to you?
The statement of providing “positively life-changing experiences for students” means a great deal to my wife and me. I experienced this growing up and I have seen it with my children and so many children that have had the access to music education in middle school and high school.
Ric, Jeannette, and their son at the Urban Farm for the San Antonio Food Bank with the Claudia Taylor Johnson Band
What compelled you to be a donor?
We have seen music programs and fine arts across the country lose funding over the years. My wife and I have seen the value of music education and we are fortunate enough to have a phenomenal group of music educators that support our kids. We have been fortunate enough to be in a position to support our middle and high school programs here locally. But we also feel the need to support the mission of MFA outside our local community and are proud to do so.
In your opinion, what is the most important work that Music for All does?
Music advocacy – your ability to bring so many national sponsors together and provide outstanding opportunities for our kids to perform in such a positive way that will touch their lives forever. They carry that with them and it leads them to want to give back so that others that do not have access can be supported.
What do you wish people knew about Music for All?
There is no other organization in the country that provides the ability to bring young people together for the sole purpose of promoting the musical arts in a positive manner and in world-class venues and that promotes access to music education within our youth communities - from BOA events to the honor brands that allow individuals from across the country to grow together. MFA uses its platform to support areas that do not have access to music education.
Do you have an anecdote/story about Music for All or a Music for All event that really moved you?
Grand Nationals 2019 – I arranged a gathering with parents/alumni from 8 different bands that we have gotten to know from across Texas – and Avon, our honorary Texas band after their 2017 appearance. While we had some great conversations with the MFA team prior to that event, the event was just to watch the live feed of the announcements of the finalists. Eric Martin, MFA’s President and CEO at that time, took time out of what has to be one of his busiest days to speak to the members that were assembled to do a Q&A on the direction of the organization. It was touching that he would take the time to join us.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating?
Look at the entire scope of the organization, its mission, and the performance of that mission over the years. If you have a family that has been involved in music education and have seen what it has meant to them, then reach out to support this organization. It is a worthy mission and our kids across the country need the arts.
The Coons Family