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Voices from our Junior Development Board - Luke Lee

This month we sat down with Luke Lee, a member of our Junior Development Board, to learn more about his interest and work in building awareness of ETM and supporting our outreach and fundraising efforts. ETM’s Junior Development Board is a group of young professionals who support our work and mission with networking, fundraising, and partnership initiatives.

Tell me about yourself. How did you get involved with Education Through Music?

I became aware of Education Through Music when I was working in Los Angeles as an entertainment investment banker. Through my work, I gained more and more exposure to the music industry, and together with my passion for kids and education, began looking up organizations to get involved with. In 2020 during the heart of the pandemic, I learned of the Los Angeles affiliate of ETM and was inspired to donate and attend some virtual fundraising events. When I moved to New York in August 2021, I was connected with ETM-NY. It was great timing because I am a marathon runner and ETM was enabling marathon participants to sponsor the organization, which I took part in.


Why did you get involved? What interested you about ETM?

When I looked into getting involved with an organization I was focused first toward education. Then when I discovered ETM, I saw that it was a great extension of my work in the music industry. What motivated me to get involved with ETM is my recognition that music is typically the first program to be cut from school budgets, despite the known benefits it provides to kids. We know the importance of sports and physical education to students, and this is something that is a requirement for most schools. So why is music different? 

ETM’s mission is so important because one choice none of us makes is what household we are born into. All children should have access to music education no matter their circumstance and we should do what we can to ensure that this is made a reality. 


What’s been your role on the Development Board? I know you participated in the REVERB Citi Field event. How was that experience? 

While I don’t have a music background, I can help with fundraising and by bringing awareness of ETM through my networks. Participating in the 2021 Marathon was a great way to raise the visibility of the organization through my social network, and I’m excited to help out with future fundraising opportunities. 

Participating in the Dead & Co. concert in partnership with REVERB was also a great experience. I had so many conversations with concert-goers that were so surprised by the fact that music education is not required in New York City schools, and that tens of thousands of students don’t have exposure to music in schools. It was great to bring awareness to the issue and the work that ETM is doing to solve it.


Have you been able to visit schools and see the program in action?

Yes, I’ve had the opportunity to visit three schools so far, all of which brought back memories of my time going to PE classes in school. Not every student is going to excel at math, literature, or science, but playing instruments may spark interest in other areas of the brain as kids are developing. I really got to see the kids’ enjoyment of playing instruments, which reminded me of my experiences every time I went to PE or recess – it provided this special outlet for me to be myself and grow in my own way. 

I also attended a winter concert last year, and seeing the teacher’s ability to manage and lead a group of 50 or more students – her command of the students, leading them in song together, and seeing their joy in singing and performing – it really showed me firsthand the impact of my involvement and support of the organization. 


How would you like to see ETM evolve in the future? 

On a high level, I would love to see ETM provide music education to as many schools as possible that do not currently offer music as a part of the regular school day. 

I would also love to see the alumni network continue to grow and be strengthened. There are so many opportunities to strengthen the community, build networks, and establish ongoing mentorships among alumni and between alumni and new ETM teachers. All of this would contribute largely to ETM’s ongoing impact. 


Any calls to action you would want to encourage among our audiences of educators, schools, supporters?

We need to invest in our next generation at a young age, and to do this doesn’t just mean supporting math, science, and literature. It means providing a well-rounded education, and music brings a unique aspect of development to a child that is so critical. 

In general, music is such an important part of everyone’s everyday life. According to SXM Media, over 315 million or over 95% of Americans over 13 years old listen to music daily. And it has been proven that listening to music releases dopamine and endorphins which help people feel happier and relieve stress and pain. Kids deserve to have regular exposure to music in school so that they can receive all of the benefits it provides. 

I also would like to see more corporations getting involved. There are so many corporations in the music space, from recording to streaming services to catalogs. It’s important for them to get involved and support music education, and not just profit from it.


Learn more about Development Board here! Interest in getting involved? Email us at info@etmonline.org.