Rep. Suzanne Bonamici: Music Education Action Alert Update

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici: Music Education Action Alert Update

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 — 9:30 am to 10:30 am PDT

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici: Music Education Action Alert Update

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“We know that the arts, especially music, help us better understand different people and different cultures, inspire creativity, preserve cultures and traditions, and transform communities. And now, in these challenging times, soothe us and heal us.” - Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici 

“The role of the federal government in education is really about equity and leveling the playing field. We know that every student benefits from music and the arts.” - Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici 

“We told all teachers in less than 20 minutes, ‘Here is your homework. The government has done their part, the state has done their part, now there is money you need to apply for. Here is what to ask for.’” - John Mlynczak, Managing Director, Noteflight, Hal Leonard 

About the Webinar

Featured Speaker: Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici

Speakers: Cindy Cook, Co-Owner, Director of Marketing and Education, The Candyman Strings & Things; Geoff Metts, Owner, Five Star Guitars; Jeremie Murfin, Owner, Five Star Guitars; John Mlynczak, Managing Director, Noteflight, Hal Leonard; Laura Kaye, Vice President, Electrify Your Symphony; Mark Wood, President, Electrify Your Symphony; and Ted Gee, President and CEO, Live Music Tutor.

Moderator: Mary Luehrsen, Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations, NAMM

Music and arts champion Congresswoman Bonamici provided opening remarks, followed by a brief Q&A session with moderator Mary Luehrsen, NAMM’s Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations. Updates included school reopening activity at the Federal level, as well as advocacy efforts at all levels, and encouragement for continued championship of music education as an essential part of a well-rounded education that must be included in all back-to-school plans. Following the opening of the event, business owners from across the country talked about their activity at the state level and two master music teachers reflected on their online teaching experiences during the pandemic.

On March 11, Representative Bonamici gave a speech on the U.S. House Floor highlighting that access to music and arts is more important than ever: “My mom was a piano teacher and I know that music is an important part of a well-rounded education. During these challenging times, arts education can help students cope, begin to heal, and awaken minds in ways that will benefit students for years to come.”

Featured Speaker

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici has represented the First Congressional District of Oregon since February of 2012. The district includes Washington, Yamhill, Clatsop, and Columbia counties and part of Multnomah County.

Strengthening public education is one of Suzanne's top priorities and one of the reasons she got involved in public service. Suzanne spent hundreds of hours volunteering in public schools before serving in the Oregon State Legislature, where she passed legislation to reduce duplicative testing. In Congress, she is a leader on the Education and Labor Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services. The Congresswoman has long been an advocate for equity in education policy and funding. She is dedicated to setting national policies that give students the support and opportunities they need to succeed in school and in life. She played a lead role in the passage of the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaces No Child Left Behind, reduces testing, puts more focus on well-rounded education, and gives more decision-making back to states and local districts.

Suzanne worked her way through college in Eugene, first at Lane Community College and then at the University of Oregon, where she earned her bachelor's degree and law degree. She is focused on making college more affordable and providing workers with in-demand skills to enter the workforce. Suzanne is the founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional STEAM Caucus, which encourages innovation and creative thinking by integrating arts and design with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education.

Suzanne is honored to serve on the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, where she will fight for comprehensive policies that mitigate the effects of climate change, strengthen the economy, and protect our planet for future generations. She also serves as a member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and previously served as the top Democratic member on the Subcommittee on the Environment. From this position, she worked to defend science, address the causes and consequences of climate change, and make sure that policy decisions are based on independent science. As a representative of coastal Oregon and co-chair of the House Oceans Caucus and Congressional Estuary Caucus, she is working to draw attention to issues that affect coastal communities.

In Congress, Suzanne is fighting to help working families get ahead and to build an economy that gives everyone the opportunity to succeed. She is a strong advocate for retirement security. In addition to protecting and strengthening Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, Suzanne also advocates for policies that help workers save for retirement. Suzanne also supports paid family leave, raising the federal minimum wage, making sure workers have a voice on the job, and workforce development programs. Suzanne is vigilant about making sure that women have access to a full range of family planning services, including abortion.

During college and law school, Suzanne worked at Lane County Legal Aid. After law school, Suzanne was an attorney at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., where she was in the Credit Practices Division of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. She then practiced law in Portland, where she represented individuals and small businesses. Suzanne has brought her commitment to consumer protection and access to justice to her work in Congress.

Suzanne and her husband Michael have two grown children.


Cindy Cook, Co-Owner, Director of Marketing and Education, The Candyman Strings & Things

Cindy Cook co-owns The Candyman Strings & Things (The Candyman) in Santa Fe, NM with her husband, Rand Cook. The Candyman is a full-line music store housing a music education center, an instrument rental program, an instrument repair department, and provides commercial installation services. The Candyman is the most decorated music store in the world with 20 global awards from NAMM’s Top 100 Dealer Awards and Music & Sound Awards. Among the awards are four Dealer of the Year awards as a single store and one Dealer of the Year designation in the multi-store category.

Cindy has served as a member of the NAMM Board of Directors and is a member of the SupportMusic Coalition and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). She continually presents educational sessions for NAMM University, the industry-education division of NAMM, and is an author for the music products industry magazine, Music and Sound Retailer. Cindy has been featured in several local and industry-related articles.

Cindy participates in the NAMM D.C. Fly-in, serving as an advocate for the right of every child to learn and grow with music by visiting with elected representatives on Capitol Hill. Her ongoing actions to advocate for music education continues year-round at local, state, and Federal levels.

Cindy also founded The Candyman Summer Rock Camp and Rock School, (named the Best Rock Camps and Schools by NAMM’s Top 100 Dealer Awards) and co-founded The Candyman Scholarship Fund with her husband. The Scholarship Fund has provided over $50,000 in scholarships to kids who would otherwise not be able to attend music programs.

Geoff Metts, Owner, Five Star Guitars

Geoff Metts is a co-owner of Five Star Guitars an independent music store specializing in instruments, lessons and repairs in Beaverton, Oregon. Since purchasing the business in 2012, he and his partners have grown it into an international award-winning retail experience. In 2016 Geoff and his partners were named the Oregon Small Business Person(s) of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Five Star Guitars has been a NAMM Top 100 dealer for seven consecutive years, and they were recently named the 2020 NAMM Dealer of the Year – the industry’s highest honor. Geoff has also been involved with music education for over two decades as an instructor and as an advocate both locally and nationally. Geoff and his partners have represented Oregon as delegates for NAMM’s DC Fly-In speaking with Congress about the importance of federal funding for music education. 

Jeremie Murfin, Owner, Five Star Guitars 

Jeremie views business ownership as a platform for community service. When he and his partners became owners of Five Star Guitars in 2012, he immediately immersed himself in the local business community and became an advocate for music education. Locally, he joined the Hillsboro Downtown Partnership and the Small Business Entrepreneur Council in 2014 and was elected to the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors in 2017. He has taught classes on small business management for the SBDC via Portland Community College and currently serves on the SBDC’s Small Business Advisory Council.

In 2016, Jeremie and his partners received the award for Oregon Small Business Person(s) of the Year. He has published several blogs and videos sharing how music enhances learning and brain activity, and has been an advocate locally and nationally for music education. Jeremie and his partners have represented Oregon as delegates for NAMM’s DC Fly-In and are passionate about the message. Five Star Guitars has been a NAMM Top 100 dealer for seven years, and they were recently named 2020 NAMM Dealer of the Year. Jeremie hopes these recent accolades will open new doors for music education advocacy, small business leadership, and public service.

John Mlynczak, Vice President, Music Education & Technology, Hal Leonard

John Mlynczak offers an extensive range of experiences in music education and the music industry and is a frequent national clinician. Mr. Mlynczak is Vice President of Music Education & Technology for Hal Leonard, and Past-president of the Technology Institute of Music Educators. John also teaches online Graduate courses at VanderCook College and Boston University Online, and is a Google Level-2 Certified Educator. Mr. Mlynczak is a passionate advocate for music education and technology, serving on the NAMM State Advocacy Coalition, the NAfME Advocacy Leadership Force, and is Advocacy Chairman for the Massachusetts Music Educators Association. Mr. Mlynczak holds an undergraduate degree in music education, and graduate degrees in both music performance and educational leadership. Learn more at

Laura Kaye, Vice President, Electrify Your Symphony

Laura Kaye has a lyricism and musicality all her own, and is a rock and roll chanteuse whose take-no-prisoners voice invokes the likes of Steven Tyler and Aretha Franklin. As a singer, songwriter, performer, and vocal coach, Laura has devoted the past 20 years of her life to empowering young singers with leadership skills as part of Electrify Your Symphony (EYS), a groundbreaking music education program she co-founded with world-renowned electric violinist Mark Wood, her husband and partner.

Laura is Vice President and COO of all of their combined business ventures. Utilizing her vast array of artistic talents, she creatively manages their companies; dedicating her creative efforts to build, market, promote, and evolve their shared vision.

In addition to EYS, Mark and Laura run the annual Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp and Festival, now in its 12th year, Wood Violins (their electric string instrument manufacturing company), and The Mark Wood Music Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to supporting music and the arts in America’s underserved communities. Laura has worked with legendary musicians such as James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Lenny Kravitz and Sean Lennon and her voice has been featured on countless television shows and advertisements. In addition to her solo work, Laura is the featured vocalist on many of Mark Wood’s recordings.

Mark Wood, President, Electrify Your Symphony

Juilliard trained recording artist, performer, producer, inventor, Emmy award-winning composer and music education advocate Mark Wood has spent over four decades electrifying the orchestra industry – literally. Dubbed ‘The Eddie Van Halen and Jimi Hendrix of The Violin World’ by PBS, Wood is the premier electric violinist of his generation who pioneered the entire genre.

He has also toured and performed with some of the biggest names in music such as Celine Dion, Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, Steven Tyler, Roger Daltry, Lenny Kravitz, Kanye West, Dee Snider, and more.

Wood is a world-renowned performer who rose to fame as string master and original founding member of the internationally acclaimed Trans Siberian Orchestra; selling over 10 million records with them. A successful solo artist in his own right, Wood writes and records original music for film and television, has released seven solo albums, and tours with his band The Mark Wood Experience (MWE) which features his partner and wife, vocalist Laura Kaye. 

But Mark’s true passion is music education. His groundbreaking music education program Electrify Your Symphony  (EYS) celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2020 and pivoted entirely to support music teachers by providing empowering online experiences during the pandemic. EYS is an immersive workshop and concert series for school music departments that boosts student self-esteem and helps raise much-needed funds. EYS has been featured on NBC-TV’s The Today Show, CBS Evening News, CBS Morning News, and regional media outlets. 

With hundreds of thousands of students reached, and countless school orchestra programs saved from the chopping block because of funds raised through his efforts, Mark Wood has proven himself a man of ideas, action and results. Showing no signs of slowing down, the multi faceted visionary continues to write, perform, record, invent ,and inspire. As a matter of fact, Mark Wood is just getting started.

Ted Gee, President and CEO, Live Music Tutor

Ted has served as an officer in the United States Army. He has held leadership roles such as Chief Operating Officer, President, Vice President in some high-profile fortune 100 companies including Pulte Homes, Harley Davidson, and Ingersoll Rand. In 2012 he launched a global software company called LPS that is the parent company of Live Music Tutor Inc, and provides online solutions for many lifestyle industries using our proprietory technology.  Ted provides executive consulting on leadership and strategy, and has been published many times. He is the author of the bestselling book “Hope Is Not A Strategy, simple solutions for doing business in the 21st century” and has a new book on concurrent methodology in software being released shortly.