Article from The Charlotte Observer, October 27, 2013
Section: Community, Edition: 1st, Page: 1SN

Foundation helps pay for art supplies, lessons, South Charlotte woman created organization to promote arts
by Marty Minchin   

​There's little question that art and music can bring joy and beauty to people's lives. But lessons and supplies also can be expensive. A professional-quality musical instrument can cost as much as $20,000. While a number of grant programs offer financial aid to art and music groups, not many help individuals who can't afford lessons or supplies.

Deborah Neuhs founded the Charlotte Area Foundation for Music and Handcrafted Art five years ago to help parents pay for instruments, supplies and lessons.

The foundation, privately funded through donations and fundraisers, has awarded thousands of dollars to fill the gap. Neuhs donates instruments and has used instruments repaired.

"We wanted to offset those financial burdens people face so they can pursue their art and music as far as they want to take it," Neuhs said.

​Neuhs said music and art can change the course of children's lives, and that as schools cut art and music programs to fight shrinking budgets, helping children pursue the arts becomes even more important.

"Whether or not they pursue it on a professional level one day, it just opens up their hearts to so much beauty and has such a positive impact on their personal lives and the broader community as well," Neuhs said.

Music and art teach discipline, and studies have shown possible correlations between musical training and better performance in school.

Neuhs, who lives in Waxhaw, also is a weaver with a studio in her home.

[Neuhs] took her first class in the mid-1990s at a little yarn store on Kings Drive that no longer exists. She fell in love with the craft and went on to study at the Penland School of Crafts in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the John C. Campbell Folk School and at UNC Charlotte.

Neuhs also teaches music and handcrafted and visual arts through her business Handcrafted Art LLC.

​Teaching opened her eyes to the benefits of music and art for children and the financial hardships that lessons and supplies can bring, she said. As children advance in the arts, the expenses often mount as they require better instruments and more instruction.

In 2012, Neuhs' group helped send two students to Interlochen Summer Arts Camp, a prestigious program in northwest Michigan that draws students from around the world.

One of those students was harpist Tamar Rowe, 17. Her father, Chris Rowe, said the $3,100 grant was "the difference between going and not going....

Interlochen was life-changing for Tamar Rowe, who worked with world-class harpists and conductors in a beautiful outdoor setting. Tamar has played the harp since age 8, and she plans to continue in ensembles and other musical settings....

At a recent fundraising dinner, Neuhs handed two refurbished violins to Rosemary Warren-Green, wife of Charlotte Symphony Orchestra music director Christopher Warren-Green. Rosemary Warren-Green oversees a music program at Winterfield Elementary School.

The Winterfield started several years ago when science teacher Courtney Hollenbeck brought her violin to class to demonstrate sound waves. Students were meant to watch the strings vibrate as Hollenbeck played, but one student was so moved by the music that she told her mother she heard angels sing when Hollenbeck played. The girl said she wanted to learn to play.

Hollenbeck bought several violins on eBay and began a small strings group, but it became so popular she needed help. Warren-Green stepped in to help, enlisting Charlotte Symphony players to teach. The program now has 70 students learning violin, cello, percussion or wind instruments.

Neuhs works with the Winterfield program as well, providing violins for students and connecting Warren-Green with resources to get violins repaired and donated.

"It's a great project in the right place," Warren-Green said. "I think that music is the best education you can offer anybody.

"Warren-Green said Winterfield's musicians now talk of when they go to college rather than if they go to college, and the principal reports that students often get off the bus proudly holding their violins in front of them.

The foundation is holding fundraisers and arranging teaching and performance opportunities forstudents.

Marty Minchin is a freelance writer for South Charlotte News.

Teen pianists to compete for scholarships, cash

by Luanne Williams

Do you love piano and want to study music in college? This opportunity is for you.

High school students looking to study piano in college can compete Saturday for a $21,000-a-year

scholarship to Wingate University. The second annual Wingate Piano Competition also features

a middle-school category with cash prizes.

David Brooks, assistant music professor, started the event last year as a way to showcase the

talents of veteran piano competitors as well as those who have never taken part in a contest.

“Win or lose, you will get a really good experience out of the competition,” Brooks says. “The mental preparation and practice that you have to do to compete is really astounding, especially for young students. … It’s a measure of technique and expression, resilience and grit all put together.”

High school students will be asked to perform two memorized, contrasting pieces of their choice from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary periods; middle schoolers will perform just one. Registration will remain open until Friday afternoon. 

All participants will get feedback from judges. First- and second-place high school winners will earn music scholarships to Wingate and cash prizes provided by Miller Piano Company ($300 for first and $200 for second) as well as certificates.

A Charlotte business started by the sons of Ohio piano manufacturer Edwin Miller in 1978,

Miller Piano is now in its third generation.

At the middle school level, the first-place winner – winner of the Charlotte Area Foundation

for Music and Art Award – will earn $300 and a certificate.

"The Foundation was established in response to a very real and growing

awareness of the need for beautiful art and music in our community," says

Deborah Neuhs, president of the Foundation. "It is our mission to help meet

this need by supporting young artists and musicians who are pursuing their

studies to a high standard of beauty and excellence. Your program is a

wonderful fit with our mission."

The second-place winner will receive $200 and a certificate. That cash award will be funded by a group of alumni and family members of the late Helena Munn in her memory. Munn loved piano and served her church for many years as pianist and organist.

The first-place winner in each age bracket will be invited to perform in the University’s 2019 “Decades Recital,” set for early next spring. For that event, a particular decade is chosen and faculty members, piano students and alumni perform music written in that time period.

Performances for Saturday’s competition will begin at 10 a.m. in the recital hall of the George A. Batte Jr., Fine Arts Center at 403 North Camden Road, Wingate. The awards will be announced shortly after the end of the performances.

To register for the competition, pianists should simply email the word “register” to and wait for further details. Click here to learn more about studying piano at Wingate.

Oct. 9, 2018