Monday, October 28, 2013


Over 3,500 Teachers, School Administrators & Students Packed Grand Ole Opry House for Inaugural Event

Left to right: Sarah Zimmermann, Justin Davis, Casey James, and Sarah Darling
Credit: Randi Radcliff

NASHVILLE, TENN. (October 28, 2013) – Last night, Sunday, Oct. 27, country music stars Casey James, Sarah Darling, Striking Matches and the city of Nashville honored music teachers nationwide for all they do to support quality music education in schools during a special concert at the Grand Ole Opry House. The concert kicked off the National Association for Music Education’s (NAfME) 2013 National In-Service Conference, which is being held now through Oct. 30 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean welcomed the packed house of over 3,500 concert attendees saying, “I think it’s pretty clear that a quality arts education and in particular, a quality music education, is a key component to a well-rounded, successful education program. Arts education is not a frill, it is not optional -- not if we are going to give our students the tools they need to live rich and rewarding lives.”

Rising country duo Striking Matches (Justin Davis, Sarah Zimmermann), who were signed to new label, I.R.S. Records Nashville, earlier this week kicked-off the music for the night with harmonizing vocals and blazing guitars. “This is an amazing honor for us to be here and perform for you,” said Davis. “No offense to any of my other elementary school teachers but the only name I really remember is my music teacher!”

Powerhouse vocalist Sarah Darling followed their set with her four-piece band, belting out hit single “Home To Me,” and other crowd-pleasing songs like “Ho Hey” (The Lumineers) and “Missing You,” (John Waite). Attendees filled the Grand Ole Opry House with the glow of cell phone lights during the jaw-dropping delivery of her final song, “Landslide.” She closed expressing her gratitude for NAfME honoring her with the “Stand For Music” Award earlier this year and the work of all music educators.

 American Idol finalist and headliner Casey James ended the night with an acoustic set including his hit “Crying on Her Suitcase,” to an enthused crowd who sang along to every word. “Music education is very important to me and I’m glad I can be a part of it,” he said. “I really appreciate what you all are doing for aspiring musicians.”

Outlining the vision behind the “Music Makes Us” program, which has been supported by Nashville’s music industry community, other local businesses and community leaders, Mayor Dean emphasized that cities can and should be ensuring students receive a quality music education in the schools, even in tough economic times. “What I want to leave with you is that it can be done,” he said. “Thank you for all you do in your local communities to make sure music remains a priority.” NAfME President Nancy Ditmer then presented Dean with a special award in honor of all of his work.

Pictured on the right, Artists also participated in a Q&A for students prior to the concert, answering questions they had about breaking into the music industry and the challenges of achieving long-term success.

The concert kicked-off a slew of other entertainment events to take place during NAfME’s conference this week, including a performance by more than 670 students selected as part of the All-National Honors Ensemble – the most skilled high school musicians in the country. Following Nashville At-Large City Councilman Ronnie Steine’s Keynote Address and other professional development workshops today, NAfME will host a fundraiser for their Give A Note Foundation for members at the Wildhorse Saloon tonight.

For additional program information, please visit

National Association for Music Education, among the world’s largest arts education organizations, is the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. NAfME advocates at the local, state, and national levels; provides resources for teachers, parents, and administrators; hosts professional development events; and offers a variety of opportunities for students and teachers. The Association orchestrates success for millions of students nationwide and has supported music educators at all teaching levels for more than a century.  With more than 70,000 members, the organization is the voice of music education in the United States. Follow NAfME on Twitter ( and on Facebook (

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