California student will follow the beat of the music to the CMAs

November 12, 2018 | GET MORE : Community

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U.S. Bank surprised Harmony Project students with behind-the-scenes country music experiences. 

When nonprofit Harmony Project asked program alumnus Matthew Morales to be part of a film session, he said yes without pause. For him, it was an opportunity to give back in support of music education. What he didn’t know is that the film session was for the Country Music Association’s nonprofit arm, the CMA Foundation and the U.S. Bank Places to Play #MusicMadePossible series. 

It turned out to be more than a film session.

“Today I learned that I’ll be attending the CMA Awards in Nashville,” said Morales. “As a huge country music fan, I’m so honored to be chosen and beyond excited. Such a highlight for me.” 

Music has a way of taking Morales places. The Harmony Project helped put Morales on a path toward higher education. Today, he’s a first-generation college student majoring in music and pyrotechnics. 

“Music has become my life. I’m doing a double major in music and pyrotechnics so I can teach students, because I want to give back to the community. My mom and dad worked so hard to get me to rehearsals and I want to honor them by being as successful as I can.”

And if that wasn’t enough, current students from the Harmony Project were invited that same afternoon to attend a sound check for the CMA Songwriters Series in Los Angeles featuring Florida Georgia Line with Corey Crowder, Ernest K., HARDY, RaeLynn and Canaan Smith. Students from 16 different locations had an opportunity to sit down with the band and its songwriters to learn more about the music profession. 

Brandon Armstrong, a 14-year old student with the Harmony Project, said the time with the songwriters was empowering. “We learned so much about how music is inspired, how the music business works. This has been such a great, eye opening opportunity to understand how other people got into this business.”

The students were also invited to attend the show that evening, but before that there was one final surprise – new instruments from U.S. Bank and the CMA Foundation. 

“This has been such a cool experience for our kids,” said Myka Miller, Chief Executive Officer of the Harmony Project. “Many of our students receive loaner instruments, so this will be the first time receiving their own brand-new instruments. That’s very special and will allow them to see what’s possible when it comes to music.”

The Harmony Project is one of four organizations that U.S. Bank and the CMA Foundation are partnering with in 2018 to #MakeMusicPossible. U.S. Bank has donated $115,000 to the Harmony Project, Roselawn Condon Elementary School in Cincinnati, Notes for Notes studio in Chicago, Napier Elementary School in Nashville and local students in the Seattle public school district next month.

“Seeing the faces of the students at the Harmony Project has made this event so special for all of us at U.S. Bank,” said Rudy Medina (above), senior vice president at U.S. Bank. “We are in the business of making things possible for our customers and our communities and that comes to life in partnerships like this with the CMA.”

For Morales, hearing the words from the songwriters telling the students to “keep chasing your dreams and we are rooting for y’all,” is advice he will take with him as he pursues his future in music.

Written by Susan Beatty of U.S. Bank.