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Meet Julie Frost of Music Moves Mountains Foundation

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Frost.

Hi Julie, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
My name is Julie Frost. I am the Director of the Music Moves Mountains Foundation. My story with music and the Arts started at a fairly young age. The philanthropic pursuit came later. When I was a child, music was synonymous with dance. I studied ballet for many years, but a knee injury kept me from following that dream. Music had always centered me growing up and it definitely got me through some very difficult times. I recall writing in a high school journal that my goal in life was to find a way to use music to help others and make the world a better place. I had no idea at the time what would eventually set me on that path.

I moved to Austin in 1993 from Oklahoma to continue a degree in Journalism with a focus on music and the performing arts. At the time, Austin’s music scene was really buzzing and I found myself taking some music management classes. That led to an opportunity to work at Antone’s Record Label and eventually start a label with a few co-workers called Dialtone Records, producing local artists and representing them around the world. I then spent a year in New Orleans doing freelance work for labels, artists, and producers. I eventually started my own music management and booking company with clients in OKC, Austin, and New Orleans. I also logged some valuable time working with non-profit organizations, including Austin Contemporary Ballet, the Paramount Theatre, and the Texas Cultural Trust Council.

When my son was born, my journey took another turn. He was a very musical child and had a drum set in front of him by his first birthday (thanks to my drummer brother!). After my son received a diagnosis of a handful of neurological disorders, I began a search for music therapy or adaptive music education to help him. I soon discovered a major lack of resources. At the time, neither Texas nor Oklahoma even recognized music therapy as a medical practice (even though it is recognized Internationally) and both states ranked as some of the worst for funding public Arts programs, special services, and mental healthcare. So, I did what I knew best and used my experience in the music and non-profit industry to rally awareness and funding to start the Foundation. That was ten years ago. What started out as a mission for one has evolved into a movement for many. My son now thrives as a musician and is very involved in volunteering.

Together with our community of movers and shakers, we have impacted many lives with the power of music. Our programs (All Abilities Rock, Play It Forward, and Feeding the Soul) have served those living with mental and physical disabilities, disorders, or challenges as well as underserved and marginalized populations. We have garnered support from The Who, the Joe Strummer Foundation, Lou Adler/Monterey Pop Fest Foundation, Bob Gruen, Carole King, and many local businesses and organizations throughout the years. All donations also help strengthen the local music community by allowing us to create opportunities for musicians, music educators, music therapists, music stores, venues and engineers, etc. I never imagined that it would take having a child in need to put me on the path I envisioned when I was in high school, but my son’s life has literally changed the lives of others for the better, including mine.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Smooth roads are boring, right? It definitely has not been a smooth road, but I get stronger and wiser from the bumps (and sometimes dead ends). I truly believe that you can manifest your destiny – but only if you don’t give up. I remember when I first tried my own project and so excitedly told a mentor of mine about it. He smiled and said, “well, whenever this fails, just remember to pick yourself up and try something else.” I was pretty discouraged but now I completely understand why he put that into my consciousness. Everything is going to have some sort of challenge, but I think when you have a calling and a purpose, it helps to keep you moving and staying focused.

When I first started the Foundation, I was pretty overwhelmed with just navigating how to set it up legally and jump through all the hoops and red tape. Then came the realization that to raise funds, you have to have funds – and if you are new to the game, it’s going to take a while to build up support. And then came the challenge of needing statistics and numbers to quantify the need for funding – I mean, how do you measure the effects of music? Yes, there is plenty of scientific data to prove certain measured effects in a controlled setting, but overall, it really is impossible to calculate. So, that’s when I knew I needed to use my son’s story to lead the mission. Putting a face and a story into the mix puts things into perspective for people. The other big challenge is that a lot of our work is helping those in very vulnerable positions, and we cannot share their personal “data.” I also find that when people think of music, they think it’s already an accessible thing. But when you are talking about music therapy, it is hard to get insurance to cover it; or if you are talking about music education, there are a lot of costs that individuals (and schools) cannot afford, especially for special education; or if you are talking about access to live music for people with disabilities, logistical barriers and a venue’s lack of education about needs are a common issue that often makes it impossible for fans to go. And believe it or not, I have had many places turn down any help because they either don’t want to bother (like trying to donate a piano for a memory care facility), or they just don’t see the value in it like they would food or something more tangible. To me, music is what makes us human and connected with the world, making it essential to live. It is an Art AND a Science, but sadly some still see it as useless entertainment.

There are all kinds of other obstacles that I wasn’t prepared for like competition within the charitable world and societal giving trends that are performative instead of genuine. And then there’s always the challenge of just being female in a position of leadership. I still get people who assume that I must be someone’s secretary, which I have gotten a lot through the years. I am picky with who I work with now and make sure I surround myself with good people who have respect for all humans. And really, the biggest challenge will always be sustainability. Sometimes my hopes and dreams are way bigger than our budget. It’s tough when the need is there and you can’t help. But then I have to remind myself, if you’ve helped one person, that is progress because that one person matters. And then they might continue the cycle of giving. There is a ripple effect.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
MOTTO: The power of music can change lives. Let’s use it to help those in need by giving hope, health, and happiness through the healing art of music.

MISSION STATEMENT: Music Moves Mountains Foundation is a perpetual series of projects, programs, and services utilizing the scientifically proven powers of music to change and improve the quality of lives. The Foundation is established as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that uses tax-deductible donations to facilitate these efforts. Our goal is to offer better access to those in need of music therapy, music education, and community outreach.

WE SERVE: Children, adults, and seniors suffering mental, emotional, or physical illnesses, developmental disabilities or disorders, depression or loss, trauma or stress, as well as underserved and at-risk communities and schools. We also offer opportunities to partner with musicians, music educators, music therapists, and other organizations.

“All Abilities Rock” – Community music workshops, adaptive music education/mentorship, and sensory-friendly concerts for children and adults with disabilities or special needs.

“Play It Forward” – A cooperative effort to offer donated musical instruments, music scholarships, and mentorship to low-income or at-risk individuals who commit, in return, to donate their time and talent to someone in need.

“Feeding The Soul” – A series of musical performances and engagements at hospitals, nursing homes, memory care, VA Centers, rehabilitative centers, hospice care, homeless shelters, etc.

Financial assistance and referral for music therapy sessions from a Board-certified Music Therapist

Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
1. Make a tax-deductible donation via any of our online platforms
2. Sponsor a program (All Abilities Rock, Play It Forward, or Feeding the Soul)
3. Start a fundraiser via Facebook, school, workplace, or community group
4. Offer an in-kind item or service
5. Volunteer or partner
6. Purchase an item on our wish-list
7. Attend a benefit concert or event
8. Designate us when shopping or selling via Charity eBay, Amazon Smile, PayPal Giving, Give with Bing
9. Give a legacy gift in honor of a loved-one, or donate in lieu of a birthday gift
10. Spread the word

Contact Info:

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