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Amid Nationwide School Budget Cuts, Music Industry Leaders Partner with NAMM to Inspire New Players and Strengthen School Music Programs

SJUSAThe National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) today announced the judges panel for its upcoming SchoolJam USA teen battle of the bands competition, a national program that highlights quality musical teen talent and promotes active participation in school music programs. The leading music industry veterans who will make up the judges panel and select the 2010 "Best Teen Band in the USA" at the second annual SchoolJam USA are:
  • Michael Blakeslee, chief operating officer and senior deputy executive director, MENC, The National Association for Music Education
  • Steve Dobo, director of sponsorships & promotion, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
  • Stan Freese, talent and booking director with Disney
  • Kevin Lyman, acclaimed founder of the Vans Warped Tour
  • Menzie Pittman, owner and director of education, Contemporary Music Centers

Produced by NAMM and promotional sponsors, MENC, SchoolJam Germany, Music For All, Drum Corps International, the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, Vans Warped Tour and Channel One News, the finals event of SchoolJam USA will take place at the Downtown Disney District in Anaheim, Calif., on Jan. 15, 2011, with more than $50,000 in cash and prizes awarded to the top 10 bands and their school music programs.

"Teens are excited about making music more than ever before thanks to so many great influences, not only in entertainment, but also within their local communities," said Joe Lamond, president and CEO, NAMM. "NAMM is committed to supporting the many aspiring teen musicians through a unique program like SchoolJam USA, which also provides much-needed funding for music programs in schools across the country."

Teen musicians between the ages of 13 and 19, with the majority of band members currently registered in a middle or high school in the United States, and are in an unsigned band, are eligible to participate and apply online until Oct. 15, 2010.  Bands can perform any genre of music but the song must be original content or designated as "public domain." To view full competition rules and regulations, and for more information about how to qualify and apply, visit www.schooljamusa.com.

Semi-finalists will be named on the SchoolJam USA website on Nov. 1, 2010, and online voting will be open to the public through Nov. 30, 2010. On Jan. 15, 2011, the top 10 finalists will take the big stage in Anaheim, Calif., at the Downtown Disney District, during the weekend of the world-famous NAMM Show, one of the largest trade shows in the world for musical instruments and products, for their chance to earn the title of "Best Teen Band in the USA." The winning band will walk away with the grand prize trip to perform at the original SchoolJam festival in Frankfurt, Germany, as well as a private music video recording session on the John Lennon Educational Bus, $1,000 towards the purchase of new gear, and an additional $5,000 for their school music program.

About the Judges

Michael Blakeslee is senior deputy executive director and chief operating officer of MENC: The National Association for Music Education. He has served as editor of several MENC publications, including the award-winning Music Educators Journal. In 2006, Blakeslee was designated a Lowell Mason Fellow, a distinction awarded to outstanding individuals in music education. He serves as the president of American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras, a youth orchestra association based in the Washington, D.C. area.

Steve Dobo is director of sponsorship and promotions for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, a post which he has held for the past 10 years. Prior to joining the Rock Hall, he served as director of events and entertainment for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Kings.

During his 36-year tenure with Disney Entertainment Productions, Stan Freese has served as the first Disney world director of bands, show director, entertainment producer, musical show director, and his current position as talent booking and casting director at Disneyland Resort. A world-renowned tuba soloist, Stan was a recipient of the Minnesota Classic Conference Fine Arts Distinguished Service Award, and in 1995, was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.

Kevin Lyman is best known as the producer and creator of the hugely successful Vans Warped Tour, the longest-running traveling music and extreme sports festival in the world today. Entering its 17th year, the tour reaches more than 600,000 kids each summer. In addition to production of the Vans Warped Tour, Rockstar Energy Drink Country Throwdown Tour and the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, Kevin is part owner of Side One Dummy Record Company.

Menzie Pittman is the owner and director of education at the Contemporary Music Centers in Virginia (CMC). Following a performance and teaching career spanning more than 25 years, he founded CMC in 1989, and continues to perform, teach and oversee daily operations. He has 40 years of musical experience as a drummer and drum instructor, and his work with L.A. Jazz, the Virginia Rangers and renowned guitarist, Michael Fath, has earned him several accolades.

About SchoolJam

SchoolJam USA is an established music initiative, originally developed by MM MusikMedia Germany to promote popular and rock music in schools throughout Germany. The program has provided thousands of music-loving young adults with the opportunity to perform and network with their peers, increasing their love for playing music and encouraging them to become active musicians.

In the United States, NAMM has collaborated with MENC, Music For All and the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus to develop SchoolJam USA, following two successful years of SchoolJam Texas, produced by NAMM and the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) in 2007 and 2008, in conjunction with the original SchoolJam in Germany.

About NAMM

The National Association of Music Merchants, commonly called NAMM in reference to the organization's popular NAMM trade shows, is the not-for-profit association that unifies, leads and strengthens the $17 billion global musical instruments and products industry. NAMM is the sponsor of the Wanna Play? campaign, a public awareness initiative designed to get more people connected with the proven benefits of playing music. For more information about Wanna Play?, please visit www.wannaplaymusic.com. For more information about NAMM, please visit www.namm.org.