By Michael Boo

It is redundant to say one is involved in music education and has been touched by the life work of Sandy Feldstein. To have any hand in music education is to have been exposed and influenced by his teachings, his compositions, his publications, and his overall influence.

While Dr. Feldstein was involved in practically all elements of music, he had a soft spot for percussion. Moreover, he had a passion for inspiring young musicians. His method books are essential staples in many programs. In his attempt to bring music to all, he promoted the drum circle activity far and wide and introduced many to the joy of making music, even if they weren’t musicians. Especially if they weren’t musicians. He always believed that everyone deserved the opportunity to become a musician, if even only for a few minutes.

He was involved with a number of organizations as a consultant and served on the boards of over a dozen organizations involved with music education. Just a few of these included NAMM, the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Percussive Arts Society and the Music Educators National Conference.

He was a tireless champion of the goals of Music for All in all its incarnations.

He would be seen at the National Festival talking with directors, chatting with students, always figuring out what materials needed to be produced to reach more people. His passing at such an early age hit all involved with Music for All. But his ideals live on in the organization’s mission and so will his name. Effective in 2010, the National Percussion Festival is to be named the Sandy Feldstein National Percussion Festival.

Music for All is pleased to bring you a chat we had with his family during this year’s National Festival; wife Wendy, son David and daughter Tracy.

Wendy: Sandy was multi-faceted… a businessman, educator and creator. His abilities allowed him to accomplish success in all aspects of what he did. But his passion was getting kids into music. He was a professor of percussion at Potsdam, NY SUNY. His true love was teaching, and he accomplished that through teaching and writing his books. He mentored so many people. He helped them in all aspects of their growth and he brought a lot of people together.

Scott McCormick and Music for All former Chairman, Matt Carter, said Sandy was a critical advisor and board member. Sandy loved watching the students during their performances here and then seeing them in the clinics afterwards. He loved that they enjoyed what they were doing there and especially that they were having fun.

David: He was a mentor to so many people on so many levels. He brought organizations together to support the common cause of supporting musical opportunities for youth and keeping music education in schools.

Dad would be so proud to have his name on an event that touches so many kids and continues his work in music education. He would be thrilled. That’s why we’re proud to memorialize him through the naming of the percussion festival. He was first and foremost a drummer. His name on the festival will serve to inspire kids around the country to work hard, study music, and bust their chops to be the best of the best in order to perform here.

We have some great ideas for things we could do next year in honor of Dad and to help the festival grow. We’ll be kicking it off in November at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention and the Music for All Grand Nationals. People Dad worked with and his friends will be getting involved, raising awareness and excitement about the percussion festival. Dad’s name and affiliations will help it to grow.

We’re all struck by how good the kids are here. They want to impress each other, but they want to raise the bar instead of compete. Everyone wants to be at his or her best. The people doing the critiques after the performance were impressed and inspired by the performances. Their job in turn is to inspire the kids, which is what Dad was all about. There was no question they were having fun.

Tracy: This festival will help continue his life’s work and passion. The students here are so committed and passionate, full of excitement and energy. You can see that music has made a big difference in their lives. There was instant camaraderie and communication between the students from different schools; the music was the one unifying connection between them.

Dad wanted to bring music to as many people as he could, so he would find the most successful way to make it practical. He helped people walk through that first door.

David: That’s why he loved the idea of drum circles so much. Drum circles run the gamut of all ages and skill levels. It’s inspiring and motivating and fun. This is a project he wanted to be involved with and promote, in order to bring music to people not musically inclined. Drum circles appeal to everyone and anyone…parents, grandparents and children.

There are no rules; everyone expresses his or her self through music. Sometimes that alone is the catalyst to getting involved in music on a deeper level. When one goes to a drum circle, one sees both professional and amateur musicians.

We have continued the publishing company Dad started in 1995, PlayinTime Productions, Inc. Among other things, there are CDs of music you can play along with. It’s educational and fun. The biggest products are the Yamaha Advantage Band Method. There are a lot of percussion materials and we have created hands-on clinic DVDs with Wynton Marsalis. There’s also a series of books Dad did with Vic Firth.

He was proud to have a company that allowed him to do what he loved with people he respected. He believed that making music is part of a healthy lifestyle. You’ll see that slogan on our website.