Music After Tragedy with Sam Gronseth

In This Article:

Sam Gronseth

Talking Up Music Education is a podcast from The NAMM Foundation about music education. Recorded live from The 2019 NAMM Show, episode 75 includes an interview with Sam Gronseth from Paradise, California.

Interviewed by The NAMM Foundation’s Mary Luehrsen, Gronseth sat down with Mary Luehrsen to talk about the remarkable work that he's done to bring hope and healing through the Butte Strong United Choir from Butte County. His community was devastated by the 2018 Camp Fire.

“An administrator called, and he said, ‘It'd be a great idea to pull together some choir kids to help heal our community.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I'll take that on.’” said Gronseth. “We got five schools together…we chose three songs. We put the recordings online, and the kids could practice right from their phones. We got together for one hour, and then went around and sang to all the schools that were most impacted in our area.”

The podcast also shines a light on his incredible music education career, and how he continues to learn and grow through his local music educator association.

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Sound Bites From the Podcast

“On November 8th, fire came upon Paradise, and it just swept over the whole community. 90% of the homes in Paradise burned, and that included mine and two other members of my family. I was actually teaching a junior high choir class. Parents started coming and picking up kids, and I sent the rest to the gym, with the administration, and I headed home because I'm a horse owner, and I could see that it was a serious situation. A lot of the kids that I work with and a lot of my friends went through that exact same situation, really a life-threatening, moment-by-moment situation.” - Sam Gronseth

“The house burned, and so then you're without a home, and all the valuables and things and musical instruments and clothes, all that stuff is gone, and so you look at starting over in its own unique way.” - Sam Gronseth

“I love taking the opportunity to expose the kids to the things that are here at NAMM: a lot of great performers plus all the music products and all the people that are around, recording situations and microphones and guitars, and everything that might inspire them to continue in the music profession. Not very many opportunities like this would come up, and so, my thought was, let's take these kids that have had so many struggles recently in their lives, and maybe try and put a bubble of inspiration in there somewhere.” - Sam Gronseth

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Talking Up Music Education is a podcast produced by The NAMM Foundation about music education. Host Mary Luehrsen chats with teachers, parents, students and community leaders who share stories about what they are doing to create music learning opportunities. Please download, share and subscribe to keep up with the stories that make a difference in music education advocacy.

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