As the academic year draws to a close, events hosted throughout Stony Brook’s campus give students the opportunity to kick back, decompress and celebrate all they’ve achieved.
This year at Kelly Quad, home of the Undergraduate College of Human Development, resident assistant Noah Montague ‘19 dreamed up the Kelly Music Festival, a musical bash with a charitable twist.
The steady pulse of drums and guitar chords filled Kelly Quad’s breezy inner courtyard during the festival May 7. Trees around the area were strung with lights and hammocks where students chatted, snacked and sang along to live entertainment. A photo booth, face painting, henna tattoos, lawn games and an abundance of free food drew a diverse crowd from many parts of campus.
Earlier this year, Montague, a second-year resident assistant, suggested the quad put together a battle of the bands party. His supervisors told him that years ago, Kelly was known for an annual music festival. Montague thought it was a perfect fit.
“I wanted to take what was offered in the past, which was just musical performances, and expand it to include other activities, food and off-campus vendors,” he said.
The idea was well-received by the quad staff, who were eager to take the event even further.
“We wanted to offer an event that was more than just having fun. Ideally, we also wanted the ability to contribute to an organization that could benefit from our support,” Montague explained.
They began to research charities focused on music education, and selected the Save the Music Foundation, a nonprofit that provides public schools with funding, materials and professional development for music education programs. Proceeds from a Stony Brook apparel raffle at the fest will be donated to the foundation.
Today, more than 5 million American children don’t have access to a music program in school. A 2013 study from the University of Kansas is one of many that shows music education boosts graduation rates, test scores and attendance and decreases disciplinary problems. Children involved in music also show greater self-esteem, confidence, collaboration and leadership skills than their non-musical peers.
Since its founding in 1955, Save the Music has helped build and sustain more than 2,000 school music programs across the country.
Kelly Music Fest featured performances from a variety of student and local musicians. They included singer-songwriters, pop artists, and R&B/hip hop groups, among others.
Sal Fratto ‘19, an English major and jazz studies minor, is no stranger to taking the stage. While Fratto performed solo at the fest, his indie-punk band Elephant Jake has toured half of the U.S. and parts of Canada.
“It’s so important to keep a sense of community thriving at the University, and live music is a great way to accomplish that,” Fratto said. “The camaraderie here at Stony Brook is unparalleled. Being a part of this festival has been really important to me, and I was honored to perform for everyone.”