David Gross – Founders of Music an Arts USA

[quote style=”boxed”]Ideas are a dime a dozen. It is finding the one that creates your passion and following it through to a successful conclusion that counts. [/quote]

David C Gross spent over 20 years making records, writing instructional music books, (Music Sales Corp, Warner Bros Publishing and Hal Leonard Corp.)  writing articles for Downbeat, Bassics and Bass Frontiers magazines, instructional videos (Homespun Tapes) and traveling around the world as a bass player.

He now owns 144 Music and Arts Inc. an outsourced Arts education company that creates Music, Dance, Theater and Visual Arts programs. 144 Music and Arts brings professional Musicians, Artists, Dancers, and Theater people into the classrooms to conduct hands-on workshops giving students an opportunity to interact with Professionals and learn from Performers they otherwise most likely would not have a chance to meet.
David is also the Executive Director of Music and Arts USA, a not for profit. Their mission brings Music programs into Public Schools at no charge.  On Dec 20, Music and Arts USA is hosting an Unbelievable Rock and Roll fundraiser with Steve Augeri (Journey, Tyketto) Rex Brown (Pantera, Kill Devil Hill) Bobby Rondenelli (Quiet Riot, Black Sabbath) Alex Skolnick (Testament, Alex Skolnick Trio) Mark Zavon ( Kill Devil Hill) plus many others who are coming onboard.
David is also the creator of “Jazzin’ in the Key of Sea,” “an animated children’s edutainment program devoted to bringing Jazz to a young audience. He currently writes  www.talkinaboutmygeneration.com which revolves around music, fashion, art and growing up in New York City in the 1960’s. And he is happy to report that he is performing again with his band The School of Hard Knocks.

Where did the idea for “Music an Arts USA” come from?

After roughly 25 years of making records, writing books, and touring around the world as a bass player, I started 144 Music and Arts, an outsourced arts education company that brings professional musicians, artists, dancers, and actors into the NY City school system as Artists in Residence. 144 is devoted to bringing music, dance, drama and visual arts programs into the NYC schools. We have created programs in over 200 schools. While visiting these schools it became obvious that there are many holes in their curriculum. With the current data supporting the impact of the arts on children’s lives, there are currently major budget cuts affecting arts in our schools. The 2012-2013 school year has already seen an additional 3% cut in the New York schools.

This reality, and my belief that the private sector must establish new measures to help prevent, especially in low-income neighborhoods, the loss of an opportunity for a child, who may never again have the chance to play a musical instrument, which studies have shown, increases their possibilities for success.

Music and Arts USA is driven to create solutions that involve private industry as leaders to make certain children have their full complement of programs in school.

The most pressing need that we seek to eradicate is the continual slashing of Arts budgets in our schools. Most of the slashing is done by people who were fortunate to have had music and arts programs, sports activities, after school clubs and, it baffles me that they would cut an area that helps to create a well rounded person. The curricula and programs that are being piloted by us in New York City have the potential to develop into a nationwide program to help schools all over the country.

Where did the idea for “Jazzin’ in the Key of Sea” come from?

Having been a professional musician most of my life and spending months on the road, I spent a lot of time listening to music, Jazz in particular. Going into the schools for over 15 years got me thinking about Jazz and that as the most important music of our culture it would disappear if children did not know anything about it. I created Jazzin’ in the Key of Sea™ a multimedia learning tool bringing together music, animation, online learning, books, games, CD’s, and DVD’s etc to stop that from happening. This is a genre that is completely untapped. The first step will be an interactive website coupled with a collection of stuffed animals utilizing augmented reality software.

What does your typical day look like?

  • I wake at 5 AM. Meditate for 20 minutes. Exercise for 30 minutes.
  • Chill and write my goals and affirmations.
  • I then skim the news and get down to business.
  • I break at 8 AM and spend 40 minutes getting my 8 year old daughter off to school. I grew up in NYC and never had this hands on parental style but working out of the house affords me many luxuries like putting my daughter on the bus and being there when she gets off.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Ideas are a dime a dozen. It is finding the one that creates your passion and following it through to a successful conclusion that counts. I am in the midst of two projects that are growing weekly and it is very exciting to take an idea out of your head and see it progress.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

People are getting vocal about their disdain for our current educational system. There are three or four easy fixes that I believe will help.

  1. Keep the arts in schools
  2. Keep sports in schools
  3. Make reading cool (Leaders are readers)
  4. Make parents accountable

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

Working in a clothing store. Never to work in a clothing store again!

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Nothing. I am happy where I am.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Write your goals daily. Never give up because, every day someone is giving up and it brings you closer to the finish line.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Picking the wrong person to work with me. Fortunately, I found a way to get rid of that person.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Use a blue inked pen and a pad and write everything down! Ideas come and are forgotten without this technique. Moreover, typing uses far less of our mental capabilty where writing with a pen helps create visceral learning as you write

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

Education is a big passion for me. It is imperative we change how our system works. More attention needs to be paid to critical thinking, goal setting, and using the arts and sports to assist our children.

Tell us a secret.

I really love what I do.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Facebook – I like seeing what other people are thinking

LinkedIn -I have developed numerous relationships using this tool. Moreover, many well known musicians are on this site and some of them have become Advisory Board members of Music and Arts USA.

Kindle -I love to read and am usually reading 4 or 5 books at a time. When I get a recommendation for a book, I can immediately download it.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Clock of the Long Now by Stewart Brand. It shows us that as important as being here now is, it is also important to think long term as in 50 years, one hundred years etc.

The people involved in this endeavor are quietly building a repository of all of the knowledge ever discovered. A very cool idea.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

Talkin About My Generation – Ok, it’s me. I grew up in the 60’s and this site chronicles a lot of what went down in NYC and all of the great music that was a part of that time. Great memorabilia too! I plan on offering it as a coffee table book in future.

Fast Company – I think the magazine is excellent and enjoy their tweets as well.

Ephraim Gopin – A clever marketing guy in regard to fundraising and not for profits.

When was the last time you laughed out loud?

I always laugh out loud.

Who is your hero?

Sir Ken Robinson.

Why do I do what I do?

I am passionate about music, always have been and know how it has changed my life and will change the lives of all children given the opportunity to play an instrument.

What get’s me excited?

My family, getting on a stage with my bass, communicating with people. Knowing that I am doing good things for people.


Music an Arts USA’s Website: www.musicandartsusa.org
Music an Arts USA on Twitter: twitter.com/musicandartsusa
Music an Arts USA on Facebook: facebook.com/MusicandArtsUSA
Fundraiser for a Great Cause: www.facebook.com/BenefitDecember20