NAMM Delegation Advocates for Music Education in Washington, D.C.

More than 100 music industry leaders, notable artists and arts education activists descended on the nation’s capital this week to advocate for all school-aged children to have access to quality, comprehensive school music education programs. As part of the annual National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Advocacy Fly-In, held May 20-23, the delegation met with Members of Congress and other policy stakeholders to reinforce the importance of music as part of a well-rounded education and to urge Congress to fund the Title IV program at its authorized level of $1.65 billion in fiscal year 2020 to ensure that the goals of the Every Student Succeeds Act are realized for every child.

The week of advocacy work began on Monday, May 20 with a Day of Service at Charles Hart Middle School in Congress Heights. Nearly 60 NAMM Members provided one-on-one instruction on drums, guitars and ukuleles to elementary students as well as needed maintenance and repair to the school’s musical instruments. In the evening, the delegation delved into the opportunities to advance music education at a special panel session featuring arts leaders, school administrators, and the Save the Music Foundation.

On Tuesday, the delegates prepared for their time on Capitol Hill by participating in advocacy training, during which the group was apprised of current issues facing public school music programs and briefed on the Every Student Succeeds Act and the current political climate from a variety of policy and arts leaders. Michael Yaffe, Associate Dean of the Yale School of Music, presented on issues on equity in music education as detailed in the Yale School of Music Declaration on Equity in Music for Students. The report examines the role of music making in the lives of students in America’s cities, both large and small.

That evening, the group joined The NAMM Foundation in honoring Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Committee on Education and Labor, with the SupportMusic Champion Award. The award was presented by former Secretary of Education Richard Riley and NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond to the Chairman, in recognition of the Chairman’s unwavering commitment to music and the arts and for his role as one of the primary authors and champion of the Every Student Succeeds Act. The Act reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for the first time in 13 years and replaced the No Child Left Behind Act. Additionally, in 2017, he worked to secure passage of legislation to reform and update the nation’s career and technical education system, as well as the juvenile justice system in 2018, both of which were signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Upon presentation of the award, the Chairman shared, “I want to thank the National Association of Music Merchants for promoting music and arts education in public schools. We know that access to music and art programs can be a powerful tool for improving student engagement, attendance, and outcomes. We must continue the important work of ensuring that all students have access to high-quality arts and music programs that enrich their development and lead to better educational outcomes.”

On Wednesday, the delegation met with Members of Congress and other elected officials to advocate for school-level music programs across the nation and to discuss the multitude of benefits music education espouses such as increased brain function, focus and language development. Delegates also shared a report from the Kennedy Center’s Turnaround Arts program and The NAMM Foundation. The Foundation has provided over $500,000 to expand music education in 70 schools through the Turnaround Arts program. Researchers explored music education instruction, specialists and curriculum at Turnaround Arts schools, finding that as schools invested in music education, the quality of and access to music education increased from 27.8% to 75%, and the average number of minutes of music instruction per week increased from 17 to 33, nearing the national average of 40 minutes per week. Read the release here:

Later Wednesday evening, the delegation, music and arts stakeholders and others gathered to celebrate former NY Yankee World Series Champion, NAMM Foundation Board Member, music education champion, and accomplished musician Bernie Williams. Williams has served as a delegate on the fly-in for the past 10 years, citing his own passion for music as a catalyst to share the joys of music making for all children. When Williams accepted the award, he reflected on the past years of advocacy work on ESSA, and what it means to him: “Twenty, thirty, forty years from now, there’s going to be a child in school that thinks to themselves, ‘somebody thought that it was important for me to learn music.’ I had an interview earlier today where I was asked about my career and I said that ‘There’s not even a comparison, no comparison - there's no amount of home runs in the world that can compare with having the opportunity to impact the education of our kids for years to come.’”

Photos of the NAMM Fly-In events are available for editorial use. Please contact NAMM Public Relations department for images. 


Elizabeth Dale

NAMM Shows have a reputation for being the spot to debut products and to highlight emerging companies. Square Amps, a new company from of Austin, Texas, used the Summer NAMM Show to debut a new line of amplifiers.

NAMM Member company, Square Amps prides itself on the commitment to preserve the “American spirit of handcrafted guitar amplifiers built from authentic vintage wooden tube radios from the 1930’s-1940’s,” and does this by handcrafting tube amplifiers from vintage radios and designing and building their own line of vintage inspired heads. The one-man operation was founded in 2013 by Matt Richards with the tagline “if it’s a square, it’s alright!” We recently sat down with Matt to discuss Square Amps and his first NAMM Show experience.

Where did the inspiration come to start converting tube radios into quality guitar amplifiers?

My grandfather was into Citizen Band or CB radio when I was a kid and had them laying around everywhere, so I was always tinkering and listening to people talk to each other. I became fascinated with figuring out how radios worked and that lead me to where I am today.

How do you source the vintage radios?

I find them all over the place; in antique shops, eBay, Craigslist, the side of the road, you name it and I have probably found a radio there! I also have a lot of people reach out to me with radios they are selling. I really enjoy the hunt.

What was it like to debut a new product line at Summer NAMM?

It was a great experience to be able to share something you created with the world and watch it grow. It was also extremely helpful for me to be able to interact directly with musicians to gather their opinions. Overall, it was very exciting and a tradition that I will look forward to continuing every year!

hat advice do you have for young product engineers looking to enter the market?

My biggest piece of advice is to go about things your own way. If you have an idea that is way out in leftfield, follow it. There are so many copies and copies of copies in this industry that it is always good to step out of line and do something different.

Square Amps British Style Circuit Telecaster

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How did the decision to expand into pedals come about?

The expansion was fueled by a few reasons: The biggest motivation was to create a well-rounded product line with something for everyone. Second, pedals are an addiction for so many guitarists, and I have found that they are always buying, selling, and trading them. I figured that is a good way to get your name out there on a different level than just with amps. Third, and maybe most importantly, they are fun to build and to play!

Square Amps Red Drive

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Is there anything you think our community should know about Square Amps that we may be missing?

The biggest misconception that I face is that I am just rewiring old radios into amps, that is not what I do! I gut all the radio parts and start from scratch, reusing only the metal chassis and wooden enclosure. Everything else is new parts built from scratch. Another area to clarify is that I am a one-man show - building, sales, website, tradeshows, floor-sweeping – it’s all just me. I found that a lot of folks at Summer NAMM were surprised by this. 

Any plans to attend future NAMM Shows? If so, anything in particular that you are looking forward to?

I am planning on exhibiting at Summer NAMM in 2020. I have a few new product ideas I am working on that should be ready by then. You’ll just have to stop by my booth and see what is new.

To stay up to date with Square Amps latest designs and product lines visit or check out Square Amps social media on YouTube at; on Facebook at; or on Instagram @squareamps.

C.J. Chenier

Interview Date:
August 2, 2019
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C.J. Chenier is the son of Clifton Chenier, known as The King of Zydeco. C.J. was always encouraged to play music and fondly remembers his father purchasing a guitar for him at a very young age. While in school, C.J. began playing the saxophone, which is the instrument he played on stage with his father when the two toured together for nine years. After his father’s passing in 1987, C.J. recorded a tribute album, which inspired him to continue his father’s legacy. Since then, C.J. has been touring around the world and recording the Zydeco music his father created.

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C.J. Chenier

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