The nonprofit Maine Academy of Modern Music annual fundraiser, Chords for Kids, gave 110 students a chance to rock out Nov. 22 in front of a crowd at Aura.

“We have 30 bands and are here for five hours with most of the bands playing just one song,” said Jeff Shaw, founder and executive director of MAMM.

With the support of 20 sponsors and more than 400 attendees, the student showcase raised $40,000 in support of the Portland school of rock music’s scholarship and community outreach programs. About three-quarters of MAMM’s 1,600 students receive scholarship assistance.

“Tonight is a triumph of what we do and the power it creates,” said board chair Alisan Kavookjian of Portland, whose four kids are MAMM students. “It’s not stuffy classical music. This is exciting for them because it’s less about perfection and more about experimentation.”

“I’m living vicariously through my three kids,” said Kiersten Ellis of Portland. “They’re rock stars, and they really get to feel that way. They’ve performed in front of large groups, and that makes them more comfortable on stage.”

Michael Prescott, a music teacher from Mountain Valley High School in Rumford, received the Music Educator Award; Jenny Van West was recognized for connecting MAMM with the immigrant community; Susan and Fritz Onion of the Onion Foundation were honored as foundation partners; and Machias Savings Bank received the Community Sponsor Award for supporting MAMM year after year.

“MAMM has been so important to our family,” said outgoing board president Deb Ivy, who will chair the advisory council. Her daughter, Emma Ivy, now a freshman in college, was the lead singer of MAMM’s first all-girls rock band Yard Sail.

“Yard Sail almost single-handedly inspired a whole generation of young performers for MAMM,” Shaw said. MAMM’s next big event is Girls Rock on March 7 at Portland House of Music, with a Girls Rock Walk as part of Portland First Friday on March 6.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected].


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