By Patrick Gormley

2019 was a year of old friends, new friends and fantastic friends for the SAM Foundation’s educational programs.

Three new educators, Victoria Devito, Brian Overdorf and Donna Kerr, joined SAMF’s expanding group of teaching artists and assisted seasoned veterans like Mark Panfil and Doug Yeomans in delivering 26 classes/workshops throughout Western New York, reaching 280 school aged children.

The All City Jazz Ensemble jams before the announcement of the Floyd Fried Memorial Scholarship.

Annual program partners Valley Community Center and Old First Ward Community Center continued to anchor multi-week sessions where groups of students learned to play the guitar and ukulele with foundation provided instruments.

These recurring workshops allowed program participants to build on previous learned skills and begin to show proficiency that will continue to be fostered into 2020.

There were plenty of new smiling faces in 2019, as well, especially at new programming partner Fantastic Friends of WNY.

This all-volunteer organization serves special needs individuals of all ages. Facing challenges of how to best work with an audience that commonly has sensitivity to loud noises and tactile instruments, SAMF educators teamed up with Fantastic Friends staff to curate an experience that was engaging and appropriate for all participants. SAMF Educators proved adaptable as they worked to bring show tunes and pop hits to their classic Americana repertoire.

The SAM Foundation found itself in a position this past year to increase its support of other music organizations, as well.

For the third year, the SAMF proudly awarded the Floyd Fried Memorial Scholarship to an outstanding student of Buffalo’s All City Jazz Ensemble, headed by musician and educator Mark Filsinger.

It also offered monetary support for worthy programs such as the Youth Musical Mentoring Series at West Falls Center for the Arts and Mark Panfil’s Buffalo Bluegrass Youth Ensemble. Both organizations are free to aspiring musicians and have showcased tremendous work in supporting younger audiences.

SAMF has already partnered with new schools and organizations for 2020 and we look forward to bringing our members news on all our upcoming programs.


Elmer Ploetz

Author Elmer Ploetz

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