Blues News

Donation of the Week

Drum Hero Joe Tomino Supports Local Music Program

cleveland, oh –  One hustle-and-bustle type of morning, I was getting ready to head into the office when I received a phone call on my cell. It was Mr. Joe Tomino – drummer of Hasidic Rapper Matisyahu and the Brooklyn-born powerhouse, Dub Trio.

After another successful year of touring and recording, Mr. Tomino was extremely adamant about making a donation to Keeping The Blues Alive Foundation.

“Tell me more about this organization – I have seen your posts and read your stories and I have been looking to make a charitable contribution this year.  Perhaps there’s something we can do together.”

This, to my knowledge of him, was the same selfless kind of mentality that he shows towards music and rhythm.  If you have never seen him perform, then you cannot understand how ruthlessly tasteful his groove is, and the musical maturity he brings to any band or studio recording.

Tomino, a native of Cleveland, wanted to invest in a school in his local area.  This led us to Citizens Academy East, a free K-5 charter school founded just 4 years ago as a result of the overwhelmingly positive reviews from its first school founded only in 1999.  Since then, it has become one of the top-performing elementary schools in Ohio.

Mrs. Estell, director of music at the academy, had always aimed to provide her students with the best chance to succeed not only in music, but also in their studies.

“I work at an elementary school, housing K-4 students in an urban area. The students at my school are high needs, socially, financially and educationally. Our school is wonderful at providing our students with a safe and fulfilling educational environment that encompasses a wide variety of learning styles including the arts. My intent is for the students to use their fine arts skills of text analysis and apply it in a literacy setting.”

Music notation is one of the fundamental building blocks of music education.  A musician who can read music accurately and translate it into a skilled performance, is considered to be accomplished.  Mrs. Estell wishes to take those music notation lessons and teach students how to play percussion instruments in her classroom.

“With the new common core standards, studying, identifying and comprehension of text is very important, Estell explains. “Music notation is considered a form of text. Using the various rhythm instruments I’ve asked for, students K-4 will be exploring musical text in a hands-on way.”

Together with KTBA, Mr. Tomino made a donation to help Mrs. Estell acquire the instruments she was looking for.  A shipment of tom toms, assorted shakers, and hand drums will arrive before the holiday.  We know that next semester will be especially unique for Mrs. Estell and those kids.  She sends her gratitude:

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]Thank you all so much for your generous donations to my students! I cannot wait to share the wonderful news with them! With your giving hearts, I can add more fantastic activities to the music curriculum at my school. With the winter break coming up I can plan out some great lessons with all the new materials coming our way. I cannot wait to share the photographs of excited, loving and thankful students making music with your kind gifts. Thank you again and have the happiest of holidays!

With gratitude,
Mrs. Estell[/quote]

As the holiday season approaches, we are constantly bombarded with sales ads for buying gifts for our friends and families.  However, this Christmas, why not invest in our children’s education?  They really are our future!  The next generation will be the ones taking care of us when we grow old, making decisions on behalf of our country and solving our country’s greatest challenges.

By investing in music education, students have the opportunity to exercise creativity and free thinking with boundaries.  That is why the arts are so important.  We cannot let arts and music programs fade, when they provide such positive outcomes for the kids involved.

We’d like to send a special thank you to Joe Tomino for his donation and we wish him all the best in the new year and beyond as he travels the world!

To learn all about Joe, visit his website at or check out one of our favorite articles on the Sabian website here:


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