The Advocate

Newsletter for The Music Education Community of Western PA

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How The Farina Foundation Gets Instruments In the Right Hands

The Farina Foundation is a nonprofit organization that The Farina family started in 2015 to honor the legacy of Frank J. Farina Jr. Frank’s career as a music educator spanned over 40 years, including teaching at Millvale and Canevin and holding the Director of Music position for the Diocese of Pittsburgh Catholic Schools. However, Frank’s most prominent position as an educator was acting as the Chairman of the Music Department and Director of Bands for the North Allegheny School District, positions he held for 26 years. Frank’s career as an educator included college bowl game appearances, collaboration with the American Youth Symphony and Chorus, and chairing many boards, including the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association and Mid-East.

Frank was also a co-founder of the Pittsburgh Philharmonic and Allegheny Brass Band.

Frank passed away in 2012, but his mission to make it possible for every child to experience music or play an instrument is lived on by his family, with the start of The Farina Foundation in 2015 and the innovative Play-It Forward Program.

Play-It-Forward is an initiative to obtain and distribute instruments to children who need them but do not have the financial means to acquire them. The Farina Foundation partners with Goodwill, AmVets, The Society of St. Vincent Depaul and the Salvation Army so that when musical instruments are donated to them, they are set aside for the Farina Foundation to collect.

The Farina Foundation takes the instruments and has them refurbished, sanitized, and distributed to underserviced schools in The Education Partnership. By donating the instruments to schools in the Education Partnership, the instruments go to classrooms where the school would, otherwise, not provide the students with any instruments or not have enough for all of their students. Giving instruments to these schools allows children with the desire to learn music the opportunity to start and provides the schools the ability to structure more meaningful music programs.

Below is a testimonial to the benefit that the Farina Foundation brings to schools from Kimberly Glover of Propel Montour Elementary.

I just wanted to express my deepest appreciation for what you do to help children. This year the number of students in band class has increased dramatically from last year. 99% of my students at Propel Montour Elementary use school owned instruments. While Propel does an excellent job of providing students with the instruments they need, the three instruments that the Farina Foundation has given us this year has been an extraordinary help to fill in the gaps! The students that you see in this picture have been enjoying band class this year and are very thankful to have the refurbished instruments that your organization has provided.

The Farina Foundation also gives instruments to Children’s Hospital, the Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, and Wesley Family Services. Numerous studies show the benefits of music therapy on a person’s overall wellbeing, and with the Farina Foundation donating instruments to these organizations, people feel better.

The Play It Forward Program also accepts donated instruments from individuals or businesses. If an instrument is sitting and not being played, it is better in the hands of an aspiring musician who does not have the financial means to an instrument. When an instrument is donated, the Farina Foundation, in partnership with local music vendors, including Johnstonbaugh’s Music Centers, research and find a student who needs the instrument and cannot afford to rent or purchase it. Last year, JMC, in partnership with the Farina Foundation, gave a 4/4 Doetsch cello that an individual donated to an aspiring music student, Heleyna Baer.

It is a shame that people have the ambition to make music and cannot because of outside circumstances.

Some of the most incredible musical ideas might never happen because the person never received the opportunity to play an instrument. Also, a child might have an extraordinary musical talent that they never tap into because the schools do not offer programs that nurture their abilities.

Likewise, some older students recognize that they have talent and ambition but cannot thrive because they cannot afford an instrument suited for their abilities. Also, one cannot dedicate adequate time to playing an instrument if they are distracted by financial concerns.

The Farina Foundation is working to remove financial barriers to learning music and making it available to everyone.

If you or a family member have an instrument that is not being played, that you would like to donate to an underprivileged musician, please bring the instrument to your local JMC or email the Farina Foundation at

If you want to give a monetary donation to the Farina Foundation, please click the button below.

Pictured below are the Farina Foundation Board of Directors, President: Barbara Farina, Vice President: Maria Farina Demore, Treasurer: Laura Farina Stephen, Secretary: Mike Stephen, Chairman of the Board: Frank Farina.
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Celebrating Music in Our Schools Month A Brief History of the PMEA

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With March being Music in Our Schools Month, it's vital to acknowledge organizations working to maintain the quality of music education. The Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) is a statewide nonprofit organization with over 4,000 members devoted to the musical development of Pennsylvanians. It is a subsidiary of the National Association for Music Education (NAfMe).

The PMEA fulfills its cause by creating programs to advocate music education, serve music educators, and foster student opportunities in music. The PMEA develops publications, sponsors educational training, encourages academic research, hosts conferences, and conducts performance festivals and concerts for students. However, the PMEA was not always the prominent organization it is today, as schools did not always include music education.

The beginnings of music education in Pennsylvania can be traced back to small music schools that originated to improve singing in churches, which the church choir leader often led. The extensiveness of the classes relied on how musically inclined the schoolmaster was, and the curriculum was up to their discretion. The earliest records of an educational program in Pennsylvania public schools were in 1844 in Pittsburgh, PA. Over the next 60 years, other large cities in Pennsylvania started school music programs, followed by smaller school districts. A stride for music education was made in 1915 with the need for a state supervisor and the appointing of Paul E. Beck as the Supervisor of Music in the State Department of Public Instruction. In 1921 music was written into law as a required subject in elementary schools, and in that same year, Dr. Hollis Dann was appointed as State Director of Music.

During the following years, music education in Pennsylvania made noteworthy progress in developing a consistent and comprehensive music program, but music education was still largely unstructured from school to school. It wasn't until 1933 that the Pennsylvania Bandmaster's Association was formed as the first statewide organization for music in Pennsylvania. The organization sponsored an All-State High School Band Festival in Aliquippa, PA, which created a band of 150 students from 47 schools in Pennsylvania. That following year, the organization hosted the first All-State Orchestra Festival, consisting of an ensemble of 150 students representing 55 schools. With the addition of orchestra members, the organization changed its name to the Pennsylvania School Band and Orchestra Association and then to the Pennsylvania School Music Association. The following year the organization experienced even more growth by introducing the first All-State Chorus Festival, representing 91 schools and featuring 202 students. In 1947 the organization changed its name to the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA).

Along with staying true to its core of hosting performance festivals, since 1947 the PMEA has laid the groundwork for improving classroom music education by presenting teacher workshops, creating curriculum guides, writing lesson plans, distributing information through newsletters, and organizing conferences presentations.

Although the landscape of education has changed over the years, the PMEA's methods of fostering music education have remained tried and true. One of the best ways to become proficient in playing music is through preparation and collaboration by performing live in a group, such as with the PMEA Festivals. Also, sharing information amongst music educators only improves the methods of teaching musicians. Teachers educate students with all different personality types, learning styles and skill levels. This means that every educator has their own particular observations about students' learning. These observations are shared effectively in collective, educational gatherings, like the PMEA conferences.

Next week, Johnstonbaugh's Music Centers will be attending the annual PMEA Allstate Festival/In-Service Conference. It is the PMEA's largest conference and performance festival of the year, and JMC is hoping to learn new information about music education, meet new people and see some old faces. If you are attending the PMEA conference, please visit us at booth 512!

- Information provided by "History of Pennsylvania Music Education" by Alyssa Britten published in PMEA News

The PMEA Composition Program - Outstanding Compositions Hosted by Dennis Emert

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Each year for the past ten years, PMEA has sponsored a composition program in conjunction with the Annual In-service Conference. This program is open to all PMEA members and their students to submit a piece of music they have written.

The composition program aims to promote and encourage composers of all ages to create music and explore how sounds are put together meaningfully. Many future composers are today’s music students and PMEA members, and we are striving to encourage everyone to try their hand at composing.

The program has four categories for students, two categories for members, and one open track category:

  • Elementary Level
  • Middle School Level
  • High School Level
  • PCMEA Level
  • PMEA Member Elementary School or Middle School (For those who teach Elementary or Middle School and have written compositions to be played by their students)
  • PMEA Member Open Track

This years’ top compositions will be featured in a session at the PMEA Annual In-Service Conference, hosted by Dennis Emert. For those attending the conference, the session will take place at 4:30 pm Thursday, April 7th.

Bob Johnstonbaugh Returns to His "Roots"

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After completing the Band Instrument Repair program at Western Iowa Tech Community College in 1981, then repairing in a local music store, I set up my repair shop in 1982. The business grew through the years, and as we added additional school music services, I transitioned out of the repair shop to focus on my growing administrative duties. In my thirty-ninth year, I have recently returned to my roots in the repair shop on a limited basis, where I have rediscovered how satisfying the craft of instrument repair is. While I still enjoy my Educational Representative and other administrative duties, I am happy to be once again part of the JMC team of technicians who strive daily to provide high-quality and essential instrument repair for our community.

-Bob Johnstonbaugh

Tell us what you think!

This newsletter is for you! If there is something that you wish to know more about or have questions about, please let us know. We will do our best to get you the information you need. Also, if you like what you read, be sure to send to a friend.

Issued February 2022

Newsletter by Joe Weinzierl and Dennis Emert