On December 27, 2012 an awards ceremony was held at Music Forte in Levittown, PA to honor the finalists and winners of the “Inspiring the Arts Essay Contest.” David G Shaw, financial advisor for LPL Financial in Fairless Hills, conceptualized and funded this program. This is the first year the contest ran, and, said Shaw, “I am so thrilled with how the 2012 “Inspiring the Arts Essay Contest” went. I feel that having over 100 submissions (108 total) in our first year is quite the feat. The children should be proud. It was very difficult to pick the winning essays as so many of them were great. The children spoke from their hearts. This is meaningful to me because it seems that as we get older this ability to be truthful and passionate becomes more and more difficult. I commend the children's efforts and can only hope that they stay encouraged by the arts and music.”
Starting October 1, 2012, participants age 17 and younger could pick up an entry form at Music Forte. The requirement was to write an essay detailing: “What does music mean to me and how does music make the world a better place?” The only other requirement was to keep the essay under 1,000 words and to submit it by November 30, 2012. The two age category winners received 1 year of FREE lessons at Music Forte and a starter instrument of their choice up to a $600 value. In addition to the two winners, ten finalists were chosen and given gifts related to their chosen instrument, hand picked by Mr. Shaw. All program participants received a certificate for their efforts. The judging was blind, and done by Mr. Shaw, his business apprentice Kevin, and Chris Heitmann – owner of Music Forte. Essays were judged based on quality of content, and as the age group got older, grammar and spelling were considered. They were judged based on the creativity of the writing, and most of all how well the questions were answered.
When asked why he would create a program like this, and what he got out of it, David said he wanted to give back to his community, most specifically the children, in an effort to evoke passion and to inspire them to take themselves seriously and be driven. For the rest of their lives, he wants them to think about how music has a positive impact on world and our lives. David has had a relationship with Music Forte, and its owner Chris Heitmann, since he started taking bass lessons at the age of 8 when Chris started the original store Music Services Unlimited (in 1985). Mr. Shaw lives ½ mile away from the music store, and his business ½ mile away in other direction, so it all fell together as a perfect pairing to kick start the program this year. He plans to continue to sponsor this program as long as the finances are there – and he wants to make it bigger. Says Shaw, “I want to expand the geographic footprint of the program, to open it up to all of Lower Bucks County. I understand that parents who live 20 miles or more from Music Forte aren't likely to bring their kids there for lessons, so I want to include other forms of art, specifically dance, and extend the offer of lessons to other studios. I want to provoke these children to be inspired by their chosen artform. I would also like to break the age categories up a little better and have three or four winners so younger kids are really competing against children in their age range.”
So, what did David get out of this program? “I got a lot of joy and hope. There are so many great kids doing the right things, it's not all about the doom and gloom we see on TV nowadays. I was inspired musically, artistically, and spiritually, and I hope that all the kids got an increase in their self worth by knowing that they can accomplish things that they put their hearts and minds to.”
Winner age 12 and younger: Lindsey Murphy
Winner age 13 to 17: Kathy Zhang
Alternate winner age 13 to 17: Thomas Adams