Now is the Time. Memphis is the Place.

Can we quantify the difference music education can make in the life of a child? 

There are studies that show that it can lead to higher test scores, stronger math performance, and even a higher IQ—and then we can talk about the positive effects on self-esteem, stress, and creativity. 

In short, the positive ripple effects created by music education and holistic care offered by places like Stax Music Academy are almost immeasurable. This Memphis gem is training the musicians and leaders of tomorrow, and they’re making sure everyone who wants to be there can afford to be there. 

Every year, Stax Music Academy raises money for need-based scholarships for SMA students whose families are under financial strain and need help paying tuition. Through their #MusicMustContinue campaign, they help students achieve their dreams and go to college. And the program is showing all the results you might expect based on the power of music education. Thanks to the support of #MusicMustContinue, all 13 seniors in the Stax Music Academy Class of 2021 earned music scholarships to pay for college!

Jaylon Toler is one of 13 students from Stax Music Academy who were seniors last year and are now headed to college. All 13 earned music scholarships, thanks to the Academy. Jaylon is headed to Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Meet one of those 13 seniors. Jaylon Toler first walked onto the Stax campus in 2017 as a shy but talented young person who wanted to learn to play bass. He worked hard to find his place, encouraged by the teachers and mentors at Stax who helped him find his sound and confidence. His skills as a bass player and his passion for music grew. As a high school student, he became the Assistant Music Director at his church, and a lead player in the SMA Rhythm Section Ensemble. He even earned high praise from Justin Timberlake for his songwriting after participating in the Stax Music Academy’s All Star Song Lab. 

Jaylon participated in Justin Timberlake’s All Star Song Lab at Stax Music Academy, and won praise from Timberlake for his work.

All his hard work and years of education paid off. After graduating in May 2021, he was awarded the Rufus Thomas Soul Ambassador Scholarship—given to a student by SMA instructors based on a student’s growth in leadership, musical ability, and desire to pursue music in higher education. Now, Jaylon is on his way to Berklee College of Music with a full scholarship!

Students like Jaylon can build a future through Stax Music Academy thanks to the need-based tuition scholarships that are available through the generosity of donors.   

Every year, it costs Stax Music Academy $10,000 per student to provide the teachers, instruments, instruction, wellness services, and the leadership training that make this program one of the best in the country. But no student EVER pays more than $1,000 to attend Stax Music Academy, and many pay as little as $200 thanks to the need-based scholarships. 

As COVID has intensified the financial struggle for many families, over 90% of Stax Music Academy students have applied and qualified for financial aid, compared to 50%-70% in years past. These scholarships are funded by donations to the #MusicMustContinue campaign.

Closing the tuition gap means that students like Jaylon don’t have to give up their chance for music education and youth development because their families can’t afford it. It means that every student has a chance to achieve big dreams and make Memphis proud!


Learn more about the #MusicMustContinue campaign and the world-class music education being offered to students at the Stax Music Academy.

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