Everyone look at the instruments that Ear Candy’s got goin’ ‘round!
“Why not? You can’t get a cavity from it. It’s fun. It’s playful!”
The hills, mountains and valleys of Phoenix are alive with the sound of music. The Pied Piper of this story is Nate Anderson, who has a discography of music stories to share with you.
Most of us have great music stories — stories about musicians whose lyrics speak to us in ways no one else could or did. Musicians can touch our souls like mystics and create a magical, life-long relationship with us without ever knowing how their music affects, inspires and moves us!
Such is the case for Nate Anderson, who, like most of us, went to college, earned a degree and went to work for corporate America, where he might still be if the sound of music wasn’t so divine!
After he graduated from Miami University in 2004 with a degree in organizational leadership and entrepreneurship, Nate moved to Chicago to sell advertising: “I don’t know who I was trying to fool,” he admits. “I broke every rule that wasn’t written. They’d say, ‘You can’t do that’ and I’d say ‘Why not?’ It didn’t make sense. I was always trying to find a better system.” (Sound familiar, anyone?)
Nate was with the Chicago ad firm for 11 months when the firm offered Nate a promotion in their San Francisco office. He responded by quitting and moving with a friend to Arizona to sell real estate. He was 22 and had nothing to lose.
Because his grandfather and parents were entrepreneurs, Nate was genetically predisposed to being an entrepreneur and the real estate business came easy to him. “I was making a lot of money,” he says with a slight pause.
“But it wasn’t what I wanted. My heart wasn’t into it. I was selling a lot more investment properties than I was helping people and their families find homes. I wasn’t hitting that human element.”
At about the same time, Nate created Ear Candy to host music events to raise money for different charities.
“To be honest I had no flippin’ idea what I was doing. But I knew I wanted to do it. I knew I didn’t want to do real estate anymore!”
That’s the sound of the needle no longer following the prescribed mellow groove of the album spinning ‘round. It was time for Nate to take a sudden, drastic turn.
Ear Candy evolved from hosting music events to raising money for charities to providing used instruments to kids in existing music programs in grades K-12. Ear Candy is a Phoenix-founded 501(c)(3) non-profit devoted to providing kids access to music education.
According to Ear Candy’s web site, “Arizona is currently dead last in per person educational funding; and arts programs are the first to get cut. Music is our universal language and the children of this world deserve the opportunity to be exposed to its powerful influence.
Ear Candy has created a sustainable solution to address the need to increase the influence of music education in public schools.”
Ear Candy donated 130 used instruments to the Roosevelt School District, which has 17 schools with music programs. When Nate delivered the instruments to Roosevelt in December, he sat in on a music class and started crying. “I was crying, watching these kids learn little simple songs. I felt like I was six years old again and I was relating to these kids. That’s exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing. I just want to deliver instruments every single day! That’s so exciting!”
Nate abandoned his previous well-paying jobs because they lacked the human element. Now he knows he’s making a daily positive impact on the lives of many kids and enriching their education and lives.
Take for example Ear Candy’s relationship with the Roosevelt School District. Eddie Gaona is the band director for all the Roosevelt schools. Gayona was the only teacher who contacted Nate during Ear Candy’s initial instrument drive and asked for instruments.
“We built a great rapport,” says Nate, “We’ve offered them a couple different opportunities over the course of the last year.”
In addition to delivering instruments to Roosevelt, some students got to meet jazz legends Chick Corea, Stanley Clark and Lenny White, who have won more Grammies than anyone in the world. These student musicians got to tour the Orpheum Theatre; meet jazz greats; play Latin jazz on stage at the Hard Rock in front of Ear Candy supporters and tell their story and convey how important Ear Candy is.
“I know we’ve made a significant positive impact in those kids’ lives,” says Nate.
Ear Candy Programs
Ear Candy wants every child to have the opportunity to experience the universal language of music and it offers three opportunities for music education:
In-School Music Programs,
After-School Programs and
Beyond the Classroom.
In-School Programs: Ear Candy collects and distributes donated instruments to pre-established music programs in need. When schools don’t have a budget to purchase instruments for their programs, children must share the instrument with many other students or worse: not participate in a music program. Ear Candy orchestrates instrument drives to collect instrument donations and works with school districts to ensure they are being utilized.
All instruments are tracked to let donors know where they have been placed. The relationship with the instrument lives on with new life in the hands of a thankful child.
After-School Programs: Ear Candy works collaboratively with community partners to create effective after-school programs to provide music education in environments where children are already enrolled but music programs are not currently offered. Ear Candy is currently expanding its successful model with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix and partnering with the Phoenix Conservatory of Music to deepen its impact through collaboration. All of Ear Candy’s programs also offer unique Beyond The Classroom experiences as well as group instructions.
Beyond The Classroom: Ear Candy believes that kids need a holistic education when it comes to music. The positive effects of classroom teaching is undeniable; however, there is more to music education than learning notes, chords, songs, etc. Ear Candy’s Beyond The Classroom initiatives provide some very unique experiences that help teach music education in a different manner — potentially one that leaves a lifelong impact on the children it serves. For example, Ear Candy partnered with Live Nation to bring 20 kids to the Dodge Theater, where they met The Fray, a multi-platinum selling band, and experienced the band’s sound check. The 20 students were the only kids in the 5,000-person venue.
“Everyone wants to be close to music. It’s pretty universal,” says Nate. “When you give them these opportunities to interact with it, they’re willing and they’re able.”
The Relationship Between Music and Academics
Nate began taking classical piano lessons at age six and continued until he was 12. He knows there’s a direct relationship between music, math and academic achievement.
“As a kid I was awesome at mathematics and it was because I played piano. I read sheet music on a daily basis and it really helped. Not only does music offer academic advancement, it also keeps kids out of trouble, builds self esteem and team-building skills. The case for music education is thick, it’s real thick. It’s on our web site under the ‘about’ section: different studies, different facts and a video about music education. I haven’t had to convince anyone!”
Phoenix Fire is One-Stop Solution
Kids aren’t the only ones learning something in the Ear Candy business. One of Nate’s lessons this year was on building efficient systems. Last year, 41 different businesses ran instrument drives for Ear Candy. Moses Anshell, the notorious Phoenix advertising guru, donated a rockin’ ad campaign with six ads that mimicked iconic rock albums. Nate hand-delivered every single poster and brochure to 41 different sites and then picked up all the instruments that were donated.
To increase the tempo and streamline the process, Nate called on Phoenix Fire to become a one-stop solution. Since Phoenix Fire has 62 locations, instruments are delivered to the locations and Phoenix Fire delivers the instruments to one location for Ear Candy. “It’s their way of getting involved in the community,” says Nate.
Brilliant! Bravo! Encore!
According to Nate, founder and president of Ear Candy: “My life really changed when I started really listening to music. At the age of 16, I started to listen to lyrics. I’d always heard a good beat or sang a refrain, but more often than not, I didn’t know what I was singing. And it wasn’t until I really dove into the Dave Matthews Band that I discovered what music is. I’m the person I am today because of the Dave Matthews Band. I’ve seen them 50 some times all over the country. They are still a massive backbone of everything I listen to. They were an amazing springboard into so much other great music. The lyrics spoke to me in a way that I could take lessons from them that I wasn’t getting from anything else. The second song Dave Matthews wrote, “The Best of What’s Around” (at right) provided a very simple lesson: No matter what situation you’re in, make the best of what’s around. So simple. I’m sure it comes through in many biblical verses or some other reading, but that’s how it got to me. A lot of the positive aspects of my personality and who I am have been founded from many of the principles I learned from his lyrics.
“I need music. My heart overflows when I’m around music and I’m feeling music. That’s my lifeblood. I need it. I love it. I love giving it more than anything. It’s my gospel. It’s where I get those life lessons. It’s where I learned to share music and discover that relationship with someone via music.”
“You And Me Together Yes, Yes”
“You and me together can do anything, baby. You and me together yes, yes,” lyrics from Dave Matthews’ newest release ‘You and Me’ connects with Ear Candy’s instrument relationship program. Any one that donates an instrument can find out where it ends up and directly see and know the impact it has on a child.
if you have any musical or monetary notes to share with Nate, he’s all Ears! To donate via credit card please visit: EarCandyCharity.org/Donate.
If you don’t have an instrument then spread the word, donate, volunteer or join them at an Ear Candy concert. Be involved in your community because this is how real change happens.
You can also mail a check or money order made payable to
Ear Candy Productions
365 N. 4th Ave, Suite E
Phoenix, AZ 85003
in 2009 Ear Candy donated
over 330+ instruments
in 40+ schools
impacting over 3,200+ kids
equals Awesome Success!
One final note - Moses Anshell designed Ear Candy’s ad campaign, which won six Addys!
A few of the ads are sprinkled throughout the magazine!
By Annie Loyd and Jodi Powers
Ear Candy came about when Nate Anderson started mixing music to share his passion with friends. “I made different music series like ‘Nater Tots’ and ‘Nate’s Tasty Tracks’ and that’s how the term Ear Candy came about. I made these mixes and gave them to people and they asked, ‘Why do you call them Musical Morsels?’ It’s like: ‘It’s just Ear Candy. It’s just delicious.’ So, when it came time to create something, I called it Ear Candy.